• Brian Aufdenberg

A Couple Of Things with Nik Scarlett

Six years ago I left my job with Sailor Jerry and walked in to the offices at Sourpuss Clothing. Since then, I have got to know some pretty amazing humans. The amount of pure talent that shows up there every day, and that I get to surround my self with is something I am so grateful for. One of those amazing humans in Nik Scarlett. Not only is Nik one of the amazing art directors at Sourpuss and Kustom Kreeps, but is the owner of the Dumb Junk brand and website.

How old were you when you knew you were a creative person? Was it always a part of you or did it evolve over time? 

Always. As far back as I can remember, I loved drawing. I’d try and copy the cartoons I watched (or anything that caught my eye, from trading cards to cardboard cutout holiday decorations) until I eventually developed my own characters and “style”. As I got older, nothing else really interested me. Except WWF wrestling and football. But a career there wasn’t going to happen for me! Haha

What is the most rewarding aspect of living a creative life? 

Appreciating the beauty and creativity in all sorts of work around us. Painted lines on the streets, a tricky little logo that has hidden imagery, the lettering and pricing painted on windshields at car lots, etc. Dumb things that a lot of people wouldn’t take 2 seconds to inspect or appreciate.

You do pin striping, illustration, design, and more. There is a heavy Kustom Kulture influence in all of your work for sure. Were all of those outlets a big influence for you as you developed your style, or was it one in particular aspect of it that sort of opened the door for you and exposed you to the rest?

Growing up I always drew weird monster/human mashups and was fascinated by old cars and motorcycles. My dad was a biker, and despite losing him young, I still had that ingrained love for bikes and cars, so it was natural to bring that into my art. As a young teenager (before ye olde reliable internet), I discovered who Coop was in a magazine ad (famous for his illustrations of devil babes and music posters in the 90s) which then led me to Ed Roth, and it was all down hill from there.

There is also a lot of monster themes in your work. What are some of your favorite monster movies or illustrators? 

Most of my favorite monster movies (and art in general) are tied to that distinct brand of kitsch horror/comedy from the 80s like Gremlins and Little Shop of Horrors. Illustrators would have to include Ed Roth, Coop, Von Franco (who worked with Ed Roth and still produces fink styled art), Tim Jacobson (who did many of the Goosebumps book covers), and Sol Rac (current day and specializing in bright, bold, psychobilly graphics with heavy zombie themes). I’m probably forgetting somebody (or somebodies) important here, but off the top of my head….

Whatʼs one thing about the art and illustration world  you wish you would have known about earlier in your career? 

There will be no rest. If you think you’re comfortable, you’re all caught up in how to use certain programs, you’re a real pro now - get ready because a bomb’s about to drop. You’re either out the door because you didn’t acclimate - or about to hit the pavement, learning a whole new set of skills because a new design trend is holding on or your reliable programs are changing and updating.

What are a few of the major influences of your art? 

There’s a lot. There’s Ed Roth - illustrator/pinstriper/kustom car builder who made Rat Fink famous, Impko - a NJ based printing company who made souvenirs and novelties, primarily in the 50s-60s, featuring bright, bold monsters and highly stylized illustrations, and, naturally, the cartoons of the 80s that helped raise me.

How has being an illustrator affected the way you see the world? 

Well, I can’t drive behind a work van or truck driver without commenting on the logo or graphics blasted on their vehicle. So I’d say it’s a curse for whoever is driving with me.

What is it about Col. Sanders that lead to your collection of Col. Sanders and KFC memorabilia?

When I was a teenager, I worked a brief stint at KFC (it didn’t last long, and was my only foray into the fast food world, but I made it worth my while by eating my weight in Honey BBQ Sandwiches). So there’s enough connection for it to KIND OF make sense, though it mostly started as a joke. BUT ALSO, let us not forget: the chain’s mascot is just - straight up - the surly old man who founded the restaurant. That’s kinda weird. It’s not a funny cartoon character, a “friendly” clown, or pretty young lady. It’s a damn old man. It’s pretty weird. And I like weird.

Where can people keep up with and buy some of your art? 

@Creepnik on Instagram and Dumb Junk on Etsy for all your dumb junk shopping needs!

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