Ithaca Fantastik

Fantastik Illustration

Spotlight: Arik Roper

Ithaca Fantastik is proud to collaborate with guest artist Arik Roper for our 5th year. Arik has made an indelible mark on the underground illustration world, and as such was a natural choice to support indie film. We will be displaying a selection of his work relating to this year’s festival theme at the State Street Gimme! Coffee for the month of November. We are also thrilled to offer an original piece from Arik reinterpreting the iconic Altered States poster from 1980, a film featured in this years Retrospective.

IF’s newest member, local filmmaker/editor Mike Skvarla, interviewed Arik to give you a firsthand impression of this year’s guest artist.


You’ve made an amazing name for yourself creating album covers for the music world, did you have that specific industry in mind from the beginning of your career or did it just happen to find you?

It just developed that way. I was into art and music and combining the two was natural.

I definitely see the artistic influences of Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi in your work, do you have any influences from the film industry?

Yeah, Kubrick and Tarkovsky are very inspirational personally. The early Ridley Scott films have an awesome aesthetic. I also like Saul Bass's work, both his visual design and film work. I'm sure I'm forgetting many others.

Many of your signature pieces are created using watercolor and gouache, what do you find is the best part about this technique?  How about the worst?

I like the fluidity of watercolor. I use liquid ink/watercolor specifically. It takes its own path and if you can direct that path it can yield beautiful results. I can also get great results from layering and diluting the ink. But this quality can also be a downside as it can be hard to control.

How has your style changed over the years?

I've been through some phases over the past 20 years. I was more influenced by comics and graffiti in the 90s- I was young when I started doing professional work. I've grown away from that, though I still have some "comics" influence. I think I've done somewhat of a full circle in getting back to fantasy art form where I began as an early teenager, though more refined and expansive now, thankfully.

Where do you usually come up with your otherworldly characters and settings?  Do your clients usually give you detailed notes on what they want, or are you more or less left to your own devices?

They mostly leave it to me. They may have an idea and I'll expand on the idea. I usually ask for some direction because it helps to focus and cuts down on the brainstorming process.

Do you see any of your characters and settings as existing in the same universe?  Or are they each their own creation?

They often appear to be from the some worlds but I don't necessarily plan it that way. I think of each as an individual but I like the idea of some of them coexisting.

You’ve experimented with animating your art, do you have any further plans to infiltrate the world of cinema?

I'd love to do that. It seems like the next step toward where I'm headed. I would need to organize a team to help me with that which would require funding and other potential obstacles but I do plan on creating more animation as soon as I'm able. I'd like it to be a story, a narrative film.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring illustrators?

Just keep doing it and be the best at it. Don't rush yourself to be published too soon (if you do want to be published at all that is) . Try not to follow current trends in illustration too much. Get inspiration form the real world as well as classic illustration. Observe different styles and techniques. Take your time and craft your skill so that when you do start working for others it will be refined into something that is really yours.

If for some reason you weren’t an illustrator, what would you do instead?

Probably a full time musician. Or professor of archaeology who had dangerously exciting exotic adventures in my free time.

What is your favorite non-animated movie?

2001: A Space Odyssey... maybe.

Freddy, or Jason?

I guess Freddy, only because he's supernatural and had a sense of humor.


The Arik Roper Altered States screenprint will be available for purchase at Cinemapolis, during the week of the festival (November 9th to 13th). We highly recommend taking time out from watching our diverse lineup to see Arik’s art in person, as well as the other art events we’ve scheduled this year.

Gimme! Coffee
506 W. State St.
Ithaca, NY 14850

— Andrew Summers • IF Art Curator 2016

Limited Edition poster for Ithaca Fantastik's 2016 Retrospective by Arik Roper


For more information, more artwork or to purchase prints of Arik's artwork, click here.