Levi Wilson

Part 1: A Tale of Furby Art

Hi, I’m Levi and I’m a trans and queer artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. I used to work in primarily traditional media but have increasingly been using digital media for a lot of my paintings and illustrations. This is because it translates a lot more intuitively when it comes time to either post or incorporate it into design work. I also used to create a lot more portraits of people, but recently have been experimenting with content focused on animals, creatures, monsters, etc. as you can see from my Furby monsters series.

The Last Thing You See Before You Die, 2021, digital media, 11×16 inches
Uh Oh, 2021, digital media, 11×16 inches
Give ‘Em The ‘Ol Razzle Dazzle, 2022, digital media, 11×16 inches

I enjoy creating work for a wide variety of subjects and kinds of content but have gravitated toward the bizarre, humorous, and/or darker subject matter such as horror or the occult. In a similar vein, I also quite enjoy messing with religious imagery and twisting it into being something more blasphemous or sacrilegious because I find people’s interactions and reactions with that kind of content interesting.

Furby the Baptist, 2022, digital media, 11×16 inches
Madonna and Long Furby Child, 2021, digital media, 11×16 inches
Be Not Afraid, 2021, digital media, 11×16 inches

My affinity for depicting Furby faces on people or things that you wouldn’t expect and/or want to see them comes from a few things. First of all, I have had an inclination towards making humorous, bizarre, blasphemous, and/or mildly frightening content for a long time and this schtick within my recent art is just a natural outgrowth of that. What also kicked this off was a sketchbook assignment where I had to pick an object to draw different versions of, and I had been given a Furby not too long before. I wanted to choose that for the assignment because I enjoy Furbies and find people’s reactions to them amusing. I quickly began creating all sorts of weird Furby creatures, objects, and characters not too long after starting this assignment.

Sketchbook work, 2021, ink
Sketchbook work, 2021, ink

Another thing that led me to create this kind of work is that I have had a fascination for a bit with odd-body Furbies which are a fairly recent internet phenomenon where people attach Furby faceplates to various objects and materials. This is basically what I’ve made here and hope to continue to make in the future, just in 2D form. 

If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, head to my instagram @leviathancrowart. 

Part 2: A Tale of Furby Art Continued

Another development of my work is the 3D manifestation of the odd things I’ve been working on in 2D media. Like the work featured in my last blog post, two out of the three of these are weird Furby creations inspired by the internet phenomena of odd-body Furbies. Another internet phenomenon that has inspired my 3D work here is modifying stuffed animals, more specifically giving them new faces made of clay. I was also inspired by the idea of taking something cute and harmless, like a stuffed animal, and turning it into something that might be unsettling in a humorous way. 

Clay-faced stuffed animals, 2021, old teddy bears and model magic
Sketches and plans for the clay-faced stuffed animals, 2021, ink and watercolor

My first foray into making these was through the most common path of modifying stuffed animals with some type of clay. Before I got started, I sketched out plans for what I wanted my stuffed animals to look like. After that, I started sculpting the faces. My biggest mistake with this project was that I chose to use model magic, which is very hard to work with and ‘dries’ to a “old marshmallow-like” consistency. I made do with it and forced it to work for this project, though. After I let it dry as much as I possibly could, I painted it with matte acrylic paints and sealed it with a satin acrylic varnish. In order to attach the finished faces, I cut off the faces of the teddy bears and glued on the clay faces in their place with a two-part epoxy.

I’m not 100% satisfied with the finished stuffed animals but that’s mostly because of the materials I chose to use. I still really enjoyed making these, and I love how unsettling they look. Furbies don’t scare me, but the Furby face I made legitimately creeped me out as I was making it and I thought that was hilarious. 

Template for odd-body Furby, 2022, digital media
Untitled odd-body Furby, 2022, old zebra plush, felt, fabric glue and embroidery floss
Untitled odd-body Furby, 2022, old zebra plush, felt, fabric glue and embroidery floss

This is my most recent project, and as you can see, it ties in more with my Furby paintings. For this one I decided to try using felt, and I enjoyed using that a whole lot more than model magic. The process for this was pretty similar to my last project, except I had to cut out and assemble pieces of felt. After gluing them on to the zebra plush, I sewed the outer edges of the felt down to secure it further and make the plush 

I’m very happy with how this plush turned out. I enjoy how it’s a lot more huggable even though it’s still a bit creepy like the last two. Also, I’m not sure what it is, but something about the flat-faced silhouette cracks me up.

Untitled odd-body Furby, 2022, old zebra plush, felt, fabric glue and embroidery floss

Part 3: Design and Illustration Work Part One

In my last couple of blog posts, I talked about my digital painting and 3D work. In these next two, I will be discussing my design and illustration work. 

One of my main goals is eventually to work for bands and other vocal artists, specifically in alternative subcultures such as the metal and punk genres. I’m especially interested in poster work and various kinds of merch design, examples of which are featured below. This is because I find music to be a significant source of inspiration for my art and design work. Just for reference, I’m the kind of person who creates music videos in my head when I listen to the same music over and over and this can be a great starting point for paintings and illustrations.

The Altar of Papa Emeritus IV, and unofficial commemorative CD box set for A Final Gig Named Death, 2021, digital media and print mockup
The Altar of Papa Emeritus IV, and unofficial commemorative CD box set for A Final Gig Named Death, 2021, digital media and print mockup

This first project is an exercise in taking a creative approach to CD box design, and for this I chose the band Ghost. Ghost is an occult rock/metal band whose schtick is that they are a satanic version of the Catholic church, with the front man character usually being an anti-pope named Papa Emeritus. They take visual inspiration from a lot of Christian religious imagery, so I wanted to choose a format that would best fit their aesthetic. I chose an altarpiece because not only did I think it was the most appropriate, but I also thought it would be an interesting problem to solve. I took inspiration mostly from the Isenheim Altarpiece, but I plugged in the various characters from the Ghost universe/lore. The illustrations were done in Procreate on my iPad pro, and the formatting was done in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. 

Illustration and event poster design for the band Calabrese, 2021, digital media
Illustration and event poster design for the band Calabrese, 2021, digital media
Illustration and event poster design for the band Calabrese, 2021, digital media

This second project was an exercise in illustrating and designing event posters. For this I chose the horror punk band Calabrese and created an imaginary tour based off their most recent album Flee the Light. I also incorporated the goat-man imagery from their album cover and the music video for “He Who Flees the Light.” I made the illustration in Procreate and arranged the logo and text in Adobe Illustrator. 

These projects aren’t the first fan works I’ve made for bands, and they won’t be the last. This is especially true for the band Ghost, which has been my favorite band for almost 3 years now. If you’re interested in seeing what I do in the future, whether it’s music-related or not, you can head to my Instagram, @leviathancrowart. 

Part 4: Design and Illustration Continued

In my previous blog post, I discussed my main long-term goal as a designer and illustrator. Here, I will be discussing a couple of my general design interest with some of my more recent work as examples. 

I’m sure this is a bit redundant at this point, but I really enjoy making illustrations, both in general and for the purpose of adding it to apparel and other merchandise.

Possum God, 2022, digital media
Possum God t-shirt mockup

The images above show one of my most recent digital illustrations. If you’re Christian or have listened to Christian music in the past, you probably know what song I’m riffing off of here. I had the sketch for this sitting in my sketchbook for a long time but I’m glad I finally worked on it. This was a lot of fun to make, and I like how it turned out. (If you’re interested in having this as a T-shirt or sticker, I have a Redbubble shop @ leviathancrow.)

I also quite enjoy designing logos and working on branding guides and materials. I’m not going to lie, part of it is because depending on the project, I might possibly have the opportunity to include illustration work as a part of the logo. I am aware of how clichéd this sounds, but I also enjoy the problem-solving aspect of it too. 

Devilish Delights, 2022, digital media
Devilish Delights, 2022, digital media
Devilish Delights tote mockup
Devilish Delights window sign mockup

The idea for the project featured above was to create a logo for a hypothetical company that fit my tongue-in-cheek style and interests. I settled on a satanic-themed edibles company called Devilish Delights. This went through a lot of iterations throughout the entire process, and I’m presenting the final versions of the ones I liked here. My favorite part of working on this logo was coming up with the way the goat merges in and out of the cannabis leaf, especially where the bottom of the neck ends. I also think the texture I added to it works quite well.  

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