Mad Max: Fury Road Inspired Artists

Kelly Garrett & Grace Lang
Sat 05.16.15
It is fascinating to witness overlap in creative fields, and to see how the influences of 2D productions can expand and infiltrate 3D and 4D work. For George Miller's latest creation of the horrifying dystopian society that is "Mad Max: Fury Road", he enlisted the help of many talented artists to assist him in the storyboard process during preliminary stages of the film. The end result is a catalogue of artist responses to a war ravaged, water-deprived, destitute landscape that Miller has manifested from the deepest, darkest cavities of his brain. The book, "Mad Max: Fury Road — Inspired Artists," contains incredible artwork from artists scattered all over the world,
including but not limited to our very own Tara McPherson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Lee Bermejo, Dave Johnson, Paul Pope, a friend of The Cotton Candy Machine who has shown his work on our walls, David Mack, Howard Chaykin, Nicola Scott, Gabriele Dell'Otto, Cliff Chiang, George Pratt, Tommy Lee Edwards, John Paul Leon, Teddy Kristiansen, Simon Bisley, Gilbert Hernandez, Javier Pulido, Declan Shalvey, Rebekah Isaacs, Dave McKean, and many more!  It includes a brief commentary from each artist, with a forward by George Miller. The book has been released by DC Comic's imprint, Vertigo in conjunction to the film's May release.



For many artists, the question, "what is your inspiration?" can be somewhat daunting. An often elusive force, an artist's inspiration is constantly evolving, finding new ways to manifest in the work. Sometimes, all of the specific influences that lead to a piece's completion are tough to pin down, even for the artists themselves. When it comes to inspiration, there's usually a little bit of this and a little bit of that, sprinklings of the countless ideas and images that make up our creative lives. Knowing this, it is always fun to find ways in which different artists work from the same basic inspiration. Director George Miller clearly recognizes this, calling his curated book  "a brigade of wonderful artists from all around the planet 'freestyling' their responses to the movie." The book is a codex of interpretations, all stemming from the same dystopic universe but ending up in their very own realms of Mad Max territory.

Take, for instance, Tara's painting of the characer Furiosa played by Charlize Theron, shown below. 



Tara McPherson writes "She has such a strong look and intense makeup that really resonated with me. I knew I had to paint her the instant I saw her,". McPherson is known for her compelling ability to depict powerful, independent women of all sorts. Charlize Theron's character in this movie is more than appropriate subject matter for McPherson, as she completely proves to be a prominent symbol for female strength. The fact that Tara felt so attracted to the character's intense makeup is no surprise to fans of her work. Many of Tara's paintings and drawings use makeup to convey complex emotions rather than simply a pretty face. From her dripping heart-tears to her candy colored corpse paint, Tara's use of makeup (much like her girls themselves) depict both human strength and human vulnerability. Makeup is the impermanent mask we choose to show the world, a mask capable of both camoflaging and revealing the person underneath. This feels especially true for a character like Furiosa, a woman once valued only for exploitation who has risen up for the sake of justice. The soot and dust that surround her, evidence of her struggling world, create the intense makeup that so many find commanding.



As was Miller's intention in curating this project, the book contains multiple interpretations of the same characters, each crafted by a different hand. This demonstrates that although multiple artists chose the same starting point from which to work, they chose these points for different reasons and took them in different directions. Like Tara, David Mack also chose the character Furiosa as his focus. Although he does not mention the character's iconic makeup look as the specific element that fuelled the piece, he certainly includes it. Mack's added commentary reads, “For this new film, I was fascinated with the religious connotations. The iconography and tribalism based on a belief system with a central metaphor of the machine."

Ryan Kelly, too, focuses on the film's heroine, as well as the other powerful females surrounding her. In a more classic comic style, this piece captures its characters mid-movement, each of them braving the elements of a ruthless wasteland. In Furiosa's face and stance, we see a determined warrior prepared for anything.




Marguerite Sauvage is another artist who felt instantly attracted to Furiosa's power. She states, “the women characters; so beautiful, strong and numerous, these female characters had to be the main part of my image. I also was struck by the image of the abandoned dead tree in this red or blue desert of dust, so I took care to integrate it into my image. Then my image will speak by herself about the feelings I wanted to convey, from determination to faith or fate.”



Here's a look at Paul Pope's piece for the book, which also focuses on some of the film's badass babes.



"Mad Max: Fury Road — Inspired Artists." is available for purchase through Vertigo as well as through Amazon. Be sure to get a copy to take a look at the vast array of astounding responses to the post-apocalyptic wasteland Miller conceived.



George Miller was interested in the idea of a female road warrior that would be equivalent to Max for this installment, and praised Theron for her complete dedication and the authenticity she brought to the role. He referred to the women in the movie as an organic element that he would definitely like to incorporate more into future installments. Theron commented on Miller's capacity for celebrating the female race with "I always had this little voice in my head of George going, 'well, now I'm going to show you a real woman.' When you come across that rare filmmaker that really wants to embrace that, it's really nice, and should there be more of that? Hell yeah."



In the movie, a tyrannical warlord holds women captive to utilize as his sex slaves and wet nurses, treating them like his own personal livestock. Furiosa, played by Theron, breaks free from this imprisonment and becomes a renegade for the others still under the warlord's control, complete with a shaved head and a mechanical arm that she rigged herself, allowing her to be a sharpshooter who can also operate an 18 wheel war machine through the desert. She's trying to liberate the other women the warlord has in his clutches, who are also all firey, strong woman in their own right.

Tara McPherson and Charlize Theron are both powerful examples of strong women who are capable of tackling many things at once while retaining a level of self love and respect that is beautiful and inspriing to women as a whole. McPherson's interpretation of Furiosa completely captures this feeling of liberation, strength, and determination present in the character's heart. 

Check out the trailer for George Miller's latest masterpiece, featuring powerhouse and dignitary of the female race Charlize Theron. 

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