A tiger stalks through a dark forest, rippling fog shrouding its paws. Its head is lowered, its gaze is fixed. The lines are sharp and determined, and the palette is strictly limited to black and white. Stripes and branches flow together. This is one of Tennessee small town-raised Derik Hobbs’ many depictions of nature. The key words are unmistakable: “crisp” and “clear,” with undertones of “ominous, inviting, treacherous,” to use his own words.
Derik has not always been illustrating. Although he grew up drawing, his actual illustration (in the more professional sense) was limited to “tinkering around in PhotoShop every now and then” and some shirt and stencil designs. Attending art school in Savannah College of Art and Design opened up his view of illustration, and attracted him with its possibilities. Using metaphors and narratives, he found that illustration could speak to the viewer both conceptually and by the style and design itself.
Emphasising lines and hatches – by ballpoint and crow quill pen – Derik aims to capture the viewer’s attention by means of repetition and texture. “The scenes illustrated aren’t usually ones that will knock you with the message upon first glance. I think the main objective is to say something with striking imagery, made up of elegant features and meticulous details,” he says. An illustration can take anything from a week to a month to complete, as many different pieces may be worked on at the same time. Derik describes his relation to illustrating as “relentlessly curious, and at times a bit unhealthy.”
In his creative career, Derik thanks his parents and friends, professors and colleagues, but also experiences which he believes has molded him and his work tremendously. The biggest lesson he’s learned is clear: “Continuously push beyond what you think is enough, and to consistently do something that furthers your creative career every single day. Always be drawing, learning, observing, and striving for the next project.”
Nature is Derik’s main theme. As he says, there’s simply nothing about it he doesn’t enjoy (except summer, “the absolute worst season.”) Tigers and big cats, and just about every bird, fascinate him. “Animals with beauty, power, and grace are always first to catch my attention and hold it,” he says.
When asked about man’s relationship to nature, Derik has a thoughtful answer ready. “I think it’s a very interesting and captivating relationship in the way that they both imitate the other, humans having animalistic traits and animals having human traits and personality elements. We both do things to survive and out of anger or pleasure. This subject is one I explored recently with a project called “The Anatomy of a Liar,” one I began writing and illustrating in my 3rd year at college. It’s an illustrated interpretation and observation of the relationship between the ways animals lie to survive, and how human beings can lie for many means outside of just one motive.”
Derik’s upcoming projects include two personal book projects (including “The Anatomy of a Liar” mentioned above) and a brand design for a Tennessee coffee shop. He sees himself following his work where it takes him, whether that is moving to another state, partnering up to create a design studio, or being represented by an art agency. His dream project is to illustrate a collection of Penguin Classics book covers – “taking something already loved and revered and add my own work to its legacy.” Ultimately, he hopes he can exhaust all the possibilities of his work, and make an impact in the community he grew up in – “adding an artistic element to stagnant lifestyle and to someday create a poster design studio that will stay in place even after my life.”