Destroy Rock City: Q&A with Lee Misenheimer

One of the first fables I heard as a little girl growing up in Japan was "Red Ogre & Blue Ogre" story. It’s interesting that I learned about mythical figures before physical things like typewriters, walls or paintings. In old Japan the ogre was created to teach kids morals. He was the perfect embodiment of good, evil, fear, love, and all the other traits of human nature. So it was natural that I felt instant connection to Lee’s illustrations of scary mythical characters when I saw them. I was also curious why this American person was so into drawing ogres.

Q1: Your images look like they are from a great saga. Who is this figure above and what is the story you are trying to tell with this illustration.
i definitely think a lot of my work or the characters in them are searching for something... what that is i'm not sure... but you could probably use a title of "the seeker" to describe this and much of my work. i've also been fascinated with constructing my own mythologies. i like to think the characters in my work are part of some odd mythological narrative... well in my own head anyway.

Q2: Were you into monsters when you are growing up? What were your favorite ones? Who is your current favorite?
i was very into monsters and creatures as a kid. i was totally fascinated with H.R. Pufnstuf. way back when, and while not so much a monster, he was definitey an interesting sort of creature. i was pretty amazed with any of the Sid and Marty Krofft productions, and of course anything related to Jim Henson. The Dark Crystal is a totally an amazing movie. it is completely unique and sinister. also very early on i was always venturing around the woods with my friends. so i think this sparked a lot of imagination of monsters in the woods. Where the Wild Things Are would also be a favorite of my childhood as well. currently i am very fascinated with Japanese mythology.

Q3: Do you believe in supernatural thing? Have you had experienced with it?
hmmm... haven't had to much experience with the supernatural. although i'd like to believe there's whole other sets of energy and spirit out there they we are not quite tapped into. the idea of supernatural is very inspiring though.

Q4: What is the first art you made? And what did it look like?
i remember way back making a drawing of a turkey using my hand as a base shape. also i remember being very good at drawing the profile view of big rig trucks, 18 wheelers. i would study these trucks as my family drove to where ever. trying to get all the details down as a kid was very challenging. the best part of this process was drawing the airbrush art that appeared on the side of truck cabs such as a sexy pin up girl. it was always interesting to try to translate this onto paper using crayons.

Q5: You have a very unique illustration style. How did you develop your current style? What was your inspiration?
i've definitely been heavily influenced by japanese prints over the last few years. the soothing quality of repetitive line drawing is very appealing. trying to break out of that somewhat lately. haven't quite found a new comfort zone yet. we'll see what comes along.

Q6: What magazines/ publications/web feature illustrations worthwhile to look? is always full of good drawing/illustration sites. i was a big fan of The Drama Magazine while it was in publication. but sadly i haven't been looking at too many magazines or books recently. i should get out more.

Q7: What music do you listen to when you draw?
right now i'm on a heavy rotation of Battles, Blood Brothers and Part Chimp... but i've been known to listen to way too much YES.

Q8: What are you wearing today?
today i am wearing a faded black tee (kinda dirty), Levi's 505 jeans, a pair of black suede Vans and a substantial beard (getting an early start on the winter super scruff).

Q9: Where is your favorite place to hang out?
home mostly. but we take our dog to McCarren park a lot as well. i am a fan of Barcade... i can get a Coke and some beef jerky and entertain myself for hours playing old school video games. it can be a very affordable evening. and i'm definitely a fan of any place that serves pork belly... Fette Sau is dreamy.

Q10: What are the random funny jobs you had in the past? Also what do you think you’d become if you weren’t professional illustrator/artist?
paperboy, busboy, lawn care were my main sources of income early on. the craziest job i had was driving a huge truck for a rock quary. it was super challenging and fun, but kinda dangerous now that i think about it. i think my dream alternate career would to be a chef. i've often thought about dropping everything and running off to culinary school. but if any future endeavor includes a vegetable garden, i'll be stoked.

Q11: What are you working on right now?
currently i'm working on a large format vector drawing for the Todays Art Festival in The Hague. the work will be projected onto the City Hall Building i think at a size of about 32 x 32 meters. should be pretty fun. it's always amazing to see your work at such a large scale. this is really the firs thing i've done in awhile, i'm just coming out of a pretty big creative slump and i'm excited to get some new ideas onto paper. also perhaps look for a small destroy rock city book in the beginning of 2008.

Thanks, Lee!

Special thanks to Dan.

See more of Lee's great illustrations at