Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
San Diego-based artist Joe Phillips is internationally known for his illustrations, animations, designs, sculptures and commercial work. With an extensive portfolio working with leaders of the comic book industry, he has penciled interiors and covers for publishers DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Wild Storm, Now and more. His work also goes beyond comics and moves into the commercial world with clothing lines and recording artists. But for all of his life, his passion has been the art of drawing.
Phillips displayed a wide selection of his LGBT illustrations and introduced his fifth book, “Joe Boys,” at insideOUT on Nov. 15. A vibrant part of the San Diego LGBT community, this book is flooded with incredible illustrations, letters from fans, pencil sketches and some familiar faces in our local LGBT community.
Phillips’ art has the ability to catch the eye with strong lines, a powerful yet seamless use of colorization, and most of all, the ability to tell a story. His different techniques and styles of art take you through a journey of traditional comics, ubiquitous illustrations that show the reality of life. His art represents all things sexy, funny, whimsical, playful, and masterful and showcases the spectrums of his artistic ability.
After going through traditional comics, Phillips said he realized that it wasn’t as meaningful as he expected.
“It felt like there was something missing in the gay community, so I started doing my own thing because there was a lot of overly sexual stuff but there’s nothing that just shows people enjoying themselves,” Phillips said. “When I was growing up, I always saw these pictures on The Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell and things like that and I always wanted the same kind of images with guys, so I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Phillips said illustration can be very communicative, no matter what language you speak.
“You can tell a friendly gesture, you can see something where people love each other, having a conversation or friends laughing,” he said. “That translates no matter where you are from. So that is what I strive to create in my work.”
In “Joe Boys,” Phillips included letters sent to him without revealing their names, but he placed them next to the illustrations that they related to him in the letters.
“I may be drawing this in California, but there is some guy in Kansas that is being bullied and finds a picture of my artwork and he stores it away,” Phillips said. “It gives him hope that there is a place sometime in his life that he will be able to live that life. That just melts your heart and makes me know that’s why I want to do it. I want to continue to do that for people unlike us. We are in Hillcrest and we have all kinds of support, but there are large parts of the country and around the world that they don’t have that. This is not there. The art is kind of like a little oasis for that.”
Phillips also does consignment work. During the holidays, he creates personalized Christmas cards. He also does anniversaries, commemorations, personal illustrations and strives to do the kind of artwork that people request.
Coming out in early December is Phillips’ first set of tarot cards. The “Joe Phillips Divine Diversity” 80-card tarot deck is a masterwork and comes from an entirely different perspective than many of his original art pieces. He captures the meanings of the cards through his art. It is an original, one-time collection piece for any lover of tarot.
“I’ve loved the tarot for a long time and I always wanted to do one,” Phillips said. “Finally, I started doing it as my art therapy and little by little it got momentum. It is a limited edition so the people that have already contributed and got it funded have first priority, but I’ll have other copies for sale. It has gilded edges and it’s quite beautiful.”
The art show was enlightening and eventful. Books and artwork were sold, and Phillips personally signed each and every purchase.
“Tonight is wonderful,” Phillips said at the event. “The place is really beautiful, and I love how it is all laid out and everybody has been so sweet. You work alone when you are at home drawing and you don’t get to see people. So when you get a chance to get out and you connect the faces, that’s really good.”
The original artwork for Phillips’ tarot cards will be displayed at Alexander Salazar Fine Art in Downtown in early December. Salazar is also the point of contact in order to purchase Phillips’ artwork in its various layouts. Alexander Salazar Fine Art is open by appointment only.
To learn more about Joe Phillips, visit joephillips.com.
To contact Alexander Salazar Fine Art, call 619-531-8996 or email As@AlexanderSalazarFineArt.com.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.