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NEW MURAL IN IOWA

Shows Mural

In October of 2020 I had the opportunity to begin work on a large mural on the side of the police station/city hall in Altoona, IA. Being late in the season it was not the best time to paint a mural with freezing temperatures and early “freak snow squalls” (that’s what the local weather channel was calling them). It was turned out to be too much of an adventure for us. We decided to cut the trip short and return when the weather had warmed up. In early April of 2021 we returned and were able to finish the job with only some minor wrestling with Mother Nature.

At over 20′ tall by 50′ wide it was definitely the largest mural I have worked on, as well as my first outdoor one. I loved working on it and eventually was able to tame my nigh-paralyzing fear of heights and become an expert scissor lift operator. Big thanks to the City of Altoona, Mayor O’Connor and everyone else involved in making the project possible. I had a great time working on it with fellow artists: Calvin Hillgrove (my son) and Mike Capp.

The Mural is based on a painting I did in 2012 titled “The Night Max Wore His Wolf Suit”, which is a tribute to my favorite children’s book “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

If you would like the see the mural in person, it is located at 900 Venbury, Altoona, Iowa

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New Painting “Story Break”

Red Riding Hood reading with a wolf

It seems like forever since I finished my last acrylic painting, so I am excited to share “Story Break” with you! Having made the transition to a “normal job” (doing toy and product design) my art has kind of fallen back in the realm of a “side thing” or hobby I suppose – at least in the sense of how much time I have to devote to it. I’ve worked on this latest piece off and on for the last couple months and had so much fun painting all the little details – like the mushrooms and the little jars with spirits in them.

“Story Break” is based on a sketch I did last fall (2020) as I was sharing a sketch-a-day for a few months. (Pictured below).

The original is already sold, but prints are available – just click the button below to check them out.

Thanks! 🙂 Justin

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CliFF: The Failed Troll

After a lot of work and time, the picture book I illustrated for the Little Bigfoot division of Sasquatch Publishing is finally available for purchase and I am excited to share it with you.

This sweet and funny story is about feeling different and embracing who we are.

A fun and original story by Barbara Davis-Pyles, author of Grizzly Boy and Stubby the Fearless Squid, about a troll named Cliff who isn’t very good at sitting still or being a “proper” troll. He’d much rather be a pirate anyway!

“Ahoy!” he shouts upon meeting other trolls, who then remind him that the proper troll hello is “Go away!” After a report card full of Fs in bridge building, stoney staring, and even goat gobbling (he’s a vegetarian!), Cliff sets off for pirate school.

But are things different for him there? Aye, that they arrrre!

This humorous story is about appreciating who we are and knowing there is a place where we fit in the world.


CLICK HERE to read an interview with Jena Benton about the making of Cliff: The Failed Troll

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“Well Read” Exhibition

Welcome to Justin Hillgrove’s 2017 “Well Read” Exhibition. This is a new body of work by Justin Hillgrove consisting of over 20 original acrylic paintings and more than 15 framed drawings, all themed around reading and books. Each piece of art is accompanied by a short story, description or poem. “I wanted an exhibition that would allow viewers to stop at each piece and become immersed in the story and details for a time before moving on to the next. A show that was a complete experience…”

Originals still available after the show will either be sent to galleries or may be purchased on the website. Prints are available for order online here on ImpsAndMonsters.com. Please note that framed sketches from the show will likely not be posted here. See previous blog post for show time/location details.


“Well Read”

April 6th – 8th 2017


Word Travels West

12″ x 24″ acrylics on canvas.  SOLD

Before the books arrived, the villagers’ time was spent collecting shiny but useless trinkets or staring vacantly at the cacophonous boxes that held such prominent places in their homes. The words on the pages brought knowledge, enchantment and adventure to them in a way they hadn’t dreamed possible before. Many in the village decided to gather their new favorite books and set off in different directions to share their discovery.  

Wynne travelled to the West with Hornesby the Narwhalicorn and a curious blue dragon named Emil. Hornesby adores anything nautically-themed so Wynne packed several books to read to him, including the water-resistant editions of “Moby Dick” and “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.”


Word Travels North

12″ x 24″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Nicola and Ursel the  bear  packed their stump and headed towards the great lights and open spaces of the wild, wintery North. They both love fairy and folk tale collections, with Nicola’s favorite story being “Little Red Riding Hood” and Ursel’s “Masha and the Bear.”


Word Travels East

12″ x 24″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Emyr and his old friend Tudur journeyed to the East with their literary selections and a few friendly stowaways.  They are both enamored with the fantasy and adventure genres, though Tudur will read anything with a tortoise in it. Roald Dahl’s “Esio Trot” is his favorite. 


Word Travels South

12″ x 24″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Samu and his amiable companion Baalan were both enthralled by nonfiction. Art and music books,  biographies, histories and even a cookbook were packed for their journey to the South. Samu also included a razor for Baalan just in case it got a little too warm for his woolly companion.


Precious Cargo

24″ x 36″ acrylics on canvas. $3200

The caravan of refugees loaded up their most prized possessions and set out to transport themselves and their riches. There were many things that shone and sparkled along the way, but nothing so valuable as what they already carried. Focused and determined , but with enough sense to create new stories along the way, they journeyed to a better places.


Library Imp 1

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

Library Imp 2

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

Library Imp 3

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

Library Imps are often mistaken for pests or familiars, but they are neither. They are skiddish and wild, but harmless. They are considered good luck in libraries and other book repositories and with good reason. They hunt the rodents, book worms and fairyfolk that often damage books, and their innocent, curious natures are contagious – broadcasted to those in close proximity via pheromones and sub-sonic purring.


The Book Hoarder

24″ x 48″ acrylics on canvas. $4000

Gilbert McGruff hadn’t realized there was an attic when he had moved into the old house – and it certainly hadn’t been in the brochure. The typical sense of foreboding one usually feels when exploring a hithertofore undiscovered room in one’s home was replaced with a sense of curiosity and then awe as Gilbert’s eyes adjusted to the dim lighting and registered the tall crooked columns as stacks and stacks of books. And the stacks seemed to continue on endlessly in this… attic? No, not an attic then, but a vast cavernous library that had never been disturbed by anyone of the Dewey Decimal persuasion.

Gilbert explored, until he found a volume that looked particularly interesting, and carried it off to find a good reading nook. He noticed a soft glow some way off and followed it, not taking much note of the harmless library imps scurrying around keeping this treasure trove free of pests. To his surprise, (and yet somehow not surprising at all), the glow emanated from a large, furry dragon with gem encrusted hide and a lazy smile.

It looked up from its book and said “Oh yes, good choice. I do so like that book. Why don’t you climb on up and settle in for a spell. Nothing quite like a good book.” They read until Gilbert’s eyes drooped and the book slipped from his fingers.


The Book Seeker  – or –  Gilbert McGruff’s Dream (Part 1)

18″ x 36″ acrylics on canvas. $2400

Gilbert McGruff had been on this particular hunt for most of his life. He was seeking a book, the PERFECT book. He’d followed the old, wise woman’s directions to the letter and had found the entrance right where she said it would be. And now here were the stairs. She had said the stairs went on for many stories but he hadn’t realized just how literal her words would prove to be.

At first he descended slowly, reading the titles adorning each “step”, but Gilbert soon realized that every one was a book he had already read. Unsettled because this place seemed to know too much about him, he fixed his eyes forward and continued his descent, trying to ignore the sounds of shuffling  papers and sliding books echoing in the darkness around him.

 


The Book Borrower  – or –  Gilbert McGruff’s Dream (Part 2)

18″ x 36″ acrylics on canvas. $2400

Gilbert McGruff clutched the book tightly and took stock of his situation. He was still shaking from the flight from the lower levels and the fight that had cost him his lantern and his right eye. And they all said getting TO the book would be the hard part – well, he’d have quite the story to tell when, or if, he made it back. His ancient blade suddenly blazed with hot, white light – a sure sign that they were closing fast. Unfortunately, the glow also illuminated the wrong turn he had taken. Now the only way out would be to wade through the mass of claws, teeth and tails. Gilbert took a moment to steady his nerves and turned to face the hosts that haunted these primeval passages. “This had better be a REALLY good book.”


Literal Levity

10″ x 20″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Literal Feast

10″ x 20″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Literal Suspense

10″ x 20″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Book Imps gravitate towards a specific genre of book, and will devour every word of their chosen genre, pausing only to prank unwary librarians, and to pilfer snacks from vending machines and unguarded school lunchboxes. They take everything they read literally and believe all books to be non-fiction. As a result, Book Imps that lean towards the horror genre are afflicted with all kinds of anxiety and emotional trauma, and those of the romance and mystery pursuations are insufferably meddlesome. Despite their voracious appetites for the written word, Book Imps refuse to read eBooks, nor do they believe anything they see on the internet.


How Does It End? 1

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

How Does It End? 2

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

How Does It End? 3

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

“How Does It End?
[A Limerick]

There once was a creature that read,
Books filled with adventure and dread.
Till along snuck up death,
And with one final breath;
“The End” had come early instead.


Arcane Shelfie

10″ x 30″ acrylics on canvas. SOLD

Many of the imps that infest the workrooms of most competent magic-users will pour through said wizard or witch’s shelves in their absence. They’ll read books, try on hats, fiddle with talismans and other objects of power, and otherwise attempt to emulate their hosts in the hopes of discovering new secrets to use, trade or sell. This can be quite dangerous when particularly adventurous or curious imps decide to sample potions and drafts they find at random. The luckier imps unstopper the sleeping potions before they get to the poisons.


Travel Log 1

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

Travel Log 2

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

Travel Log 3

5″ x 7″ acrylics on wood. SOLD

“Travel Log”
[A Limerick]

There is naught like a log and its book,
So happy a journey they took.
But his friend from the south,
Put the tome in his mouth;
So he pleaded ‘No tasting, just look.’


 

 

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“Well Read” Exhibition FAQs

“Well Read” Exhibition – April 6th – 8th 2017

What is “Well Read”?

Well Read is a new body of work by Justin Hillgrove consisting of over 20 original acrylic paintings and more than 15 framed drawings, all themed around reading and books. Each piece of art is accompanied by a short story, description or poem. “I wanted an exhibition that would allow viewers to stop at each piece and become immersed in the story and details for a time before moving on to the next. A show that was a complete experience…”

Joining Justin will be Author/Illustrator John Skewes, celebrating the tenth anniversary of his best-selling children’s book series “Larry Gets Lost” with a show of artwork from the series. John will be signing Tenth Anniversary Editions of “Larry Gets Lost in Seattle” and “Seattle ABC” during the art walk.

[Click HERE for Facebook Event Page]

Want to see the show, but can’t make it in person?

The show preview will be posted on Justin’s blog Thursday at 7:00pm, an hour after the physical show opens. If there is an original you are interested in purchasing during the opening (4/6/17 6-10pm PST), you may call 206-799-3863 to see if it is still available and make the purchase over the phone (shipping extra). Originals still available after the show will either be sent to galleries or may be purchased on ImpsAndMonsters.com.

Just will also likely be posting show images (and maybe video) via social media during the exhibition, so follow him here:
Instagram: @impsandmonsters
Twitter: @impsandmonsters
Facebook: @impsandmonsterspage

Giveaways

I will be giving away a bookmark (while supplies last) to those attending the opening. Additional bookmarks may be purchased at the show or online.

If I purchase an original, can I take it with me right away?

No – The original paintings and drawings will stay hanging until the show ends on Saturday night so that they may be seen and enjoyed by all who attend. Purchased originals may be picked up at the Piranha Shop at 7pm on Saturday(4/8), and those remaining will be shipped or otherwise delivered to their new owners starting on the following Monday.

Will prints be available?

Yes – Both open edition and giclée prints will be available for purchase during the show. They will also be available online once the show opens.

When and where is the exhibition?

Opening Night:
First Thursday, April 6th, 2017 6p – 10p PST

Show Hours:
Thursday, Apr 6th, 6p – 10p
Fri, Apr 7th, 11a – 8p
Sat, Apr 8th, 11a – 7p

Location:
The Pirahna Shop – 1022 1st Ave. South Seattle, WA 98134

Who is Justin Hillgrove?

Justin is a Pacific Northwest artist, well-known for his paintings of monsters, robots, pop art and parody.  He also creates board games, comics and toys. He has been showing his work in shows and galleries since 2005.

Who is John Skewes?

John is a former Disney artist and illustrator of more than 20 children’s books. He is the author and illustrator of the award-winning Larry Gets Lost picture book series.

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Imps and Monsters February Newsletter

Imp Lands Comic Book 4

Newsletter: Kickstarter ending Thursday, Imp Lands Issue 4 is out, and Emerald City Comicon Approaches!


Hi everyone,

I will no longer be using Constant Contact to send out newsletters  but will instead be regularly updating my blog – so if you want to receive updates in your inbox just enter your email address in the “Subscribe to Blog via Email” field here on the right side.

Other than that, just a few updates (see below) – because this week is BUSY!

Thanks for all the support,
Justin Hillgrove


“By Order Of The Queen” Boardgame

Ends Thursday March 2nd @ 9pm PST

Just a few days left if you want to get in on the Kickstarter for our new game “By Order Of The Queen.” We have been working like mad on all the finishing touches, last minute stretch goals, and getting files ready to send to press. CLICK HERE to learn more about the game. Remember the Kickstarter copies come with extras not included in the retail version as well as being offered at a lower price than the MSRP. Thanks for all the support and sharing that has made the campaign so successful!

Also, Analog Games interviewed me about working on board games. CLICK HERE to read the interview on their blog.


Imp Lands 4

Imp Lands Comic Book 4Imp Lands issue #4 is hot off the press! I’ll have some with me at Emerald City Comicon and they are available HERE on the website as well.


Emerald City Comicon

And speaking of Comicon, I will be at booth #412 near Steam Crow and The Oatmeal, so if you are attending be sure and drop by. I think tickets may already be sold out so be sure and check before coming down.

Emerald City Comicon – Seattle, WA

March 2 – 5, 2017
Washington State Convention Center
emeraldcitycomicon.com/

 

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Miyazaki Totems

A Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki-themed group show opened at Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco on February 2nd. My contributions to the show are two 8″ x 24″ original acrylic paintings on canvas (sold as a set). The “Miyazaki Totems” were a lot of fun to work on – It was an opportunity to re-visit my favorite Miyazaki films and put my spin on many of his beloved characters.

Prints can be ordered HERE on impsandmonsters.com

Spoke-Art Gallery
816 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 796-3774 * SF@spoke-art.com

 

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“By Order Of The Queen” Board Game is on Kickstarter

After a full year in the works, our  2-4 player cooperative fantasy board game is finally on Kickstarter! There is a reward level that includes my original inked drawings but those are limited so grab one quick if you are interested. You can find out more about the project by clicking the link below. And if you want to support the project but aren’t able to back it, please share via social media!

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/99575233/by-order-of-the-queen

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Free nativity sketch download

A bunch of people asked me for a print of this little nativity doodle I had posted via social media. Here’s a link to a high-res file you can download and print for free on your end:

https://impsandmonsters.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Nativity2016.pdf

 

 

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Open Studio 11/25 – 11/26

UPDATE: Big thanks to everyone who came out to see me. It was fun to have so many come by and tour the studio. I’ll definitely be doing this again next year. Thanks again, Justin.

 

sudiopic

Black Friday Studio Sale
November 25 – 26, 2016
10am-5pm Friday and Saturday
7110 184th Street SE, Snohomish, WA 98296
My studio will be open and available to visit Friday and Saturday 10am-5pm and I’ll have prints, books, toys and more for sale with some great deals and swag for those who can make it out.