Ariel Zucker-Brull

New York native Ariel Zucker-Brull was raised in Chelsea by his two mothers, who were immersed in Beatnik culture. Twenty-seven years later, Ariel still lives in the same 8th Avenue apartment, creating art and working the New York nightlife scene on the side. The talented artist has just released a graphic novel that’s already sold out and has had his work published in NYLON Guys. We caught up with Ariel and asked him about his creative process and his experience growing up in the city that never sleeps.

What was it like growing up in New York City?

I grew up in Chelsea with two mothers who knew a lot of old hippies and Beatnik writers like Jim Carroll and Herbert Huncke—I guess they could be considered original hipsters. My mothers dressed pretty crazy, and just observing 8th Avenue was quite an experience.

What are your thoughts on the hipster culture that’s infiltrated New York?

I like the way it blends many different subcultures and borrows looks from different eras, but many people take it overboard, which I don’t like.

Aside from your work as a graphic novelist, what else do you do?

Art-wise I’ve done a lot of nightlife flyers, some short animation and fashion illustration. I’ve worked in nightlife on and off since I was 20, mostly working at the door of nightclubs.

All of your heroines look like fashion models—is fashion a big influence in your work? Where else do you draw your inspiration from?

Fashion is a huge influence! I draw a lot of inspiration from fashion magazines and just observing people in the streets and clubs. Movies and comics influence my work, as well. I like comics from the ’90s and sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and Alien.

How do you decide what hair and clothes your characters will have?

My decision-making process is pretty random…mostly just stuff I remember liking, especially from rock and roll. Sometimes I scan through magazines or take still shots from movies. I hate to admit it, but some hairstyles are just easier to draw. For example, I used to draw a lot of bobs because you don’t have to draw the roots or worry about the hairline. Now I’m drawing girls with a lot of long, voluminous, wavy and messy hair. Also, hairstyles that aren’t very symmetrical are always easier to draw.

What are your all-time favorite graphic novels?

I’m not all that into graphic novels; I enjoy regular comic books more. I like artists like Jim Lee, Dave Finch, Mark Texeira, Sean Gordan Murphy and Joe Mad.

What is your creative process and how long does it take you to go from inspiration to a completed work?

This varies depending on the project. For comic pages, it takes from six to16 hours to pencil and about three or four hours to color. Illustrations don’t take nearly as long—generally just a couple of hours. I don’t like to plan things out too much because I feel it makes the end result stiffer, so the fewer steps the better for me.

Your work was published in NYLON Guys. How did that come about?

I met the art director at a party in Brooklyn and we kept in contact. I guess he liked my work!

If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and what would you like to do with them?

I would love to have Scott Williams ink over my pencils and sketch models with Rene Gruau.

If we opened your closet, what would we find?

I don’t have a closet…mostly just stuff on the floor. Jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. When I’m working, I go with blazers, v-necks and pointy shoes.

For more of Ariel's work, click here.
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