Earlier this year, Team Epic Reads was lucky enough to attend New York Comic Con. While there, we browsed through the Artists Alley and met Dylan, creator of the comic upside down grin. We had Snarkles with us and Dylan was instantly enamored with our bookish overlord — who could blame him?!
Dylan was kind enough to create a graphic for Snarkles and here it is! How adorable is this? Anyone else thinking we should make some t-shirts or buttons of this?
We had a chance to speak with Dylan about his art, here’s what he had to say:
Epic Reads (ER): Hi Dylan! So we hear you run the site upside down grin and are the creator behind all of those adorable illustrations. How long has upside down grin been around and when did you get started?
Dylan: You heard correctly. I’m “that guy who does those upside down grin things,” as I tend to be called when someone connects the dots. The site launched on October 03, 2011 with one big promise: every Monday through Friday, five days a week, I would post a new illustration/caption. I haven’t missed a single day since the site started. As for doing illustration, I had been doing these kind of drawings for about three years before the site launched.
ER: Do you have any favorites?
Dylan: I really do love all of them. I wouldn’t post them if I didn’t enjoy the finished product, but there are some that stand out. There’s the fridge, this fire guy, and, of course, the donut.
ER: What inspired you to create these illustrations?
Dylan: Ennui. Not the haughty kind, mind you. I first started doing these kind of illustrations while I was job-hunting after college. I just sort of made them for fun, for myself. It was a nice cheap form of entertainment – like watching grass grow, but more fun and less seasonally dependent. I decided to start taking the illustrations seriously after I returned from a trip to Italy with my little brother. We saw some incredible art and, if I left that country with one feeling, it was that I need to be doing more things I was proud of every day. That’s what upside down grin has been for me ever since it launched – an outlet where I get to make and share something I’m proud of every day.
ER: How did you go about picking an illustration style? Did you play around with different styles initially or has it always been like this?
Dylan: I have zero art background, so any style had to be this one. Granted, if you look back to day one and click through to now, you can see there are two distinct art shifts (one around January and again around April). A big part of this for me is having fun and experimenting. So you’ll see little techniques being tested and included along the way as I grow to like certain ones. I feel like I’m finally getting into a style I like.
ER: Can people buy your art? If so, what kinds of products do you currently have available?
Dylan: They can and they have. It’s a crazy feeling having people buy your art. I sell 8×10 prints of any illustration that I’ve posted on the site and I do small batches of t-shirts which I announce on the Facebook page. I don’t have an online store yet, so people just email firstname.lastname@example.org to place orders and I ship to them wherever they are.
ER: Cats vs. hedgehogs. Who do you think is the cuter internet animal?
Dylan: Finally, an important question. Cats. 100%. It’s funny to say seeing as I’m allergic to cats, but I grew up with two of them and they’re just the coolest. Sorry, Snarkles.
ER: Do you have a favorite internet animal?
Dylan: NYAN CAT.
ER: Why do you think hedgehogs love YA books so much?
Dylan: Woah, mind reader. I was just thinking about this the other day! Okay. So, you know how people “curl up” with a good book? Hedgehogs are experts at curling up into a ball. If hedgehogs had a country, I’m pretty sure “curling up” would be its number one export. That makes books the perfect activity for them. I know, I know. But why YA (young adult) books specifically? I think it’s because, deep down, hedgehogs are a lot like us. We dream of becoming more than we are and growing along the way. A lot of YA books really hit on that theme.
ER: What can we expect to see in the future from you and Upside Down Grin?
Dylan: Let’s see. I have a to-do list. Expect a functioning online store, so you don’t have to email me for every order. I’m eventually going to extend to selling a few different print sizes beside 8×10, more t-shirts in more sizes, and I’m even looking to turn some of the characters into plush toys. Oh and more in-person appearances. I went to NY Comic Con in October and it was awesome.
You can check out all of upside down grin’s illustrations here! We hope to see more of Snarkles soon!