The following is an interview with critically acclaimed Alaskan artist Ray Troll regarding the Kickstarter campaign launch for the hardcover collection, Spawn Till You Die: The Fin Art of Ray Troll, in conjunction with Clover Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Troll about his experience in revisiting his life’s work, what he is most looking forward to with the collection, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Spawn Till You Die collects over 40 years of your incredible artwork. As you look ahead to the combined collection, what is your experience in revisiting your body of work from the various stages of your career?
Ray Troll: It’s been kind of a strange, yet very enjoyable, ride sifting through the decades of my artwork with the crew at Clover Press. There are some genuine surprises in the mix that Robbie Robbins, their graphic designer, has unearthed in my body of work. Looking back, I can see I’ve been a very prolific guy, having produced tons of imagery. We all need editors, though, especially we creative types.
BD: Likewise, in revisiting these pieces, was there anything new or intriguing that you took away from the work that you hadn’t anticipated when originally creating it?
RT: I can start to see the continuity of certain themes in my work, where I return to certain images or ideas. A fascination for fish is a real continuum flowing through the book, but that’s certainly not all. Evolution, sex & death, dark humor, fatalism, and a genuine quest to figure out this thing called life. Who are we? What are we? Where in the hell are we going? What have we done to this world? What is our place on this big watery planet and how did we get here? That said, sometimes, I just like a good joke.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with Clover Press for the hardcover collection?
RT: It’s been an interesting back and forth over the last couple years as we’ve been working on the book. I sent a hard drive down to San Diego trusting that Robbie would do the right thing sorting through hundreds of my artworks. He’s had carte blanche in that editorial process, and, so far, I’ve been blown away by what he’s done. We’re still in the final phases of laying the book out, but, believe me, it’s a wonderful collection of my work.
BD: Your work has highlighted the beauty and interconnectedness of underwater life and has been featured by many of the US’ natural history museums. Is there anything in particular that you hope that viewers will take away from your work?
RT: I’ve been lucky enough to have gained an audience over the course of my life through my shirt line, books, music, and many museum exhibits. I’m fascinated with the natural world and the unfolding story of life. I strive to make science fun and engaging. I didn’t know that at first when I was just starting out. I was printing fun, goofy ‘art’ shirts, but they had a message behind them. I stumbled into the world of science communication, but I guess that’s what I do. I believe my enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious. If I help to foster fascination for our fellow creatures on this planet, I’ve done my part. If you know about something and are intrigued by it, you start to care about it.
BD: Lastly, in light of the Kickstarter campaign, are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
RT: Well, I myself want that hardback book with the ultra-cool dust cover sporting the flaming salmon blazing across the spine. The stickers are cool, too. The ‘Planet Ocean’ puzzle looks fabulous, and who wouldn’t want one of those original pencil sketches? I guess I want it all!