edited by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Joe Duncan got involved with Spiderweb around 2013; the first show he attended was at Dan’s Silverleaf. He remembers being entranced by Walker Smart’s work (aren’t we all?) and being struck by Ron Lechler’s comedic professionalism. He started participating in shows the following year, attending workshops, contributing to zines, and live-printed with Laura and Dave of Triple Threat Press for a Spiderweb anniversary many moons ago. He’s been around in some capacity ever since.
Much of your work seems to be inspired by media and pop culture. What about pop culture appeals to you and makes you want to dive further into it?
I don't really think of my work as that closely connected to pop culture as far as source material or inspiration when I'm making it, but upon reflection I can see the connection. My gateway into that world has probably always been comics. I love sequential art! From superheroes to graphic literature and storyboards, it all appeals to my visual sensibilities and fans the flames of storytelling that is central to my art making. Most of my work can be boiled down to narrative. I'm just trying to tell stories or accentuate a moment in a story that I find impactful. I think the real bedrock of my interest has always had a healthy foundation in folklore and mythology and maybe that has led to my pop culture tones because of the renaissance that subject matter has experienced in contemporary media. Stories were an important part of the southern social fabric that I was raised in. Stories are how people connect and entertain and even to some degree your ability to craft a tale determines your importance to the group as a whole.
What subjects beyond pop culture are you interested in?
Outside of that specific interest, I play bluegrass mandolin and really enjoy listening to 30s-era dustbowl kind of stuff and learning the history of that era of music. To some degree I think this can be felt in my earlier work more so than now. I am constantly reading books that are in the vein of American political history. This shows up in my work, but not in a recognizable, editorial manner that this subject usually elicits. I don't even know if I could point out where it makes its presence in any particular piece. I just know that it is on my mind enough that it is probably in there in one way or the other. More than anything, the cultural aspects related to these subjects are a well of fuel for my creative endeavors.
What have been some of the most rewarding experiences you've had as an artist?
The most rewarding experience I ever have as an artist is when someone connects with my work, negatively or positively, and they develop a relationship that is independent of me, the artist. To make something that pulls on the existing experiences a person has and to draw out of them a feeling or a thought is a pretty amazing feeling that I never get tired of.
Who are some of your influences?
I'm most influenced by illustration art. Book illustrations, comics, sequential art, cartoons, magazines, etc. I am a big fan of the designer James Victore and his mentorship has been a huge influence on me in recent years. Another influence would have to be Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art, which I read fairly regularly.
Any upcoming shows or projects you'd like to share?
I'm pretty much a hermit as far as upcoming events go. I'm just making stuff and trying to enjoy the process and not worry too much about the audience right now, but people can follow along via my website (joeduncanisnotimportant.com) or social media (which is all listed on my website).
Joe Duncan is an illustrator. He grew up in western Kentucky and got his degree in Printmaking from Murray State University. He lives in Texas with his two ultra-cool dogs and super awesome wife. Joe loves cheap cereal and good cartoons.
If you’d like your work to be featured by Spiderweb Salon, send us your work through our submissions page.