Lucas Elliott: Alaska’s whimsical illustrator
Stories about a sharp-fanged, body-snatching alien who bites his victim’s heads off isn’t exactly a conventional bedtime story for a young child. But then again, Lucas Elliott wasn’t an average kid. The son of an artist and a military man, Elliott relocated from Virginia to North Pole when he was 10. Ensconced in the dark icebox that is the Fairbanks Borough, Elliott discovered his love for illustration.
“My mom and grandma both really encouraged my art and it was actually my grandma who gave me my first comic books. She was just like ‘here’s a bunch of stuff to read that I think you might like.’ Funnily enough, one the comics was Venom—that one gave me nightmares for a bit,” laughs Elliott.
A self-proclaimed cartoon lover, Elliott says that they provided him an escape from reality. But it wasn’t until he took a family trip to Disney World in eighth grade that he realized his escape could become a financially viable reality.
“I remember looking down at the animation studio and seeing all of these illustrators working on a movie. Then I got to meet an actual illustrator who was showing a group how to draw Minnie and Mickey and I just thought, ‘yep, this is it—this is what I want to do with my life,’” Elliott recalls with a warm smile.
When Elliott returned home, he downloaded Disney stock images and soon his notebooks were full of drawings both inspired by and tangential to the work he admired.
Now 32-years-old, Elliott works as a full-time illustrator and although he has courted the likes of Disney, Pixar and Nickelodeon, he feels happy where he’s at.
“I’m kind of known in the animation industry as this weird Alaskan guy. People ask me all the time why I live in Alaska and then I show them pictures of it, and they seem to get it,” says Elliott. “Honestly, it’s not that I don’t want to work at some of those amazing animation companies, its just that it’s too hard to give up Alaska.”
With no plans of leaving, Elliott’s work fills a unique niche of fantastically joyful illustrations featuring the things that make Alaska, well, Alaska.
“I started doing a ‘Merman’ series partially because of my wife’s love of mermaids. We literally have mermaids all over house—our mantle, bathrooms, even in our room. It got me thinking that you don’t see a lot of mermen so I decided to draw a lumberjack merman, partially just because I wanted to see what a plaid tail would look like,” says and animated Elliott. “I ended up selling out of prints in the first day and it’s kind of became a thing. Last year I even ended up doing a ‘Manly Mermen Calendar’.”
While Elliott is still thinking up new mermen designs, he has begun to shift his focus to another equally lovable character—BATTLE STAR. The star of a comic by the same name, BATTLE STAR is a warrior starfish as he embarks on a journey to save the seven seas. Elliott has already released the first edition and is currently working with his wife and muse, Rhiannon Elliott, on a second edition.
BATTLE STAR may be a work in progress for Elliott but it’s not unusual for the talented artist to have irons in many fires. When he’s not watching cartoons “for inspiration” or fielding commercial work assignments, he’s taking on commissioned pieces for the young and young at heart.
“I feel like if can make somebody smile, if I can make them happy then that’s my goal,” explains Elliott.