David Ayllon is a photographer, graphic designer, and self-described comic book aficionado. Ayllon has won many awards, such as the 2009 Internet Advertising Competition award for Best Design Website, and more recently, the 2016 Seeing the Light competition. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, Rangefinder Magazine, and other publications, and on the cover of Next magazine.
His portfolio includes print design works for The Encyclopedia Project, a monthly show from Chicago described as “a hilarious melting pot of poetry, performance, and comedy.” There’s also digital, print and logo design work created for Rockstar Games, which makes video games. Ayllon worked on creating promotional material, such as stickers, T-shirts, in-game graphics, and others. “[Through its franchises] Rockstar informed my adolescent brain (and never stopped),” Ayllon writes on his website. “[For this project,] I got to play video games and call it ‘research.’”
Ayllon grew up on Long Island and moved to New Jersey about a decade ago. His journey through visual arts began with his childhood love for cartoons and comic books. Graphic design came first, and it makes a big part of his life to this day. He is currently working toward his master’s degree in design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He considers photography more “fun,” especially because he uses it for more personal projects that fall outside the work or school experiences. Some of these projects include photographing drag queens and related shows. “It’s really cool to be a part of the transformation, as a photographer,” said Ayllon to describe his interest in using his lens to capture and immortalize iconic drag queens.
Ayllon takes the necessary time to make his art. Poems might get written in one shot, whereas editing photographs or drawing take much longer. “I tend to enjoy working on drawings in pieces,” he explains. He’d draw different parts of the final artwork on separate pieces of paper. “I’d do it all in pieces, and then put it all together,” he says. The process might be time-consuming but, at least when it comes to Ayllon’s work, it’s proven to lead to award-winning artwork.
While creating work in various art forms, the young artist doesn’t appear to have a particular favorite. “I think that they all inform each other,” he explains. He feels most comfortable in graphic design, but photography and illustration “just came organically.”
Each of Ayllon’s works is eye-opening, jaw-dropping, unique, and very bold, in its own way. What first catches my attention is a Queen (the band) design for an online competition, for which participants were to create a T-shirt design for Queen’s 40th anniversary. Ayllon’s made it to the Top 10.
He also created Fuzzy handcuffed!, an animated movie poster, for a short movie. John Carlo, who made the movie, was the winner of a competition together with Ayllon.
Another example is the poster for That’s Not Right…A Mistaken Cabaret, featuring actor (and Ayllon’s boyfriend) Joe D’Angio. That was D’Angio’s first solo project “before he started doing drag.”
Another impressive art piece is a poster showing two hands embracing a cello. The mood evoked by the curves carved in the cello and hands, and also the gestures, pose and colors, tell the story in a subtly dramatic, thrilling, almost erotic way. “Craft will do well to pass the time until genius calls on us again” is written on the poster. Ayllon created the piece for Paulie Lipman while the poet was participating in the 30/30 Project, for which Lipman wrote 30 poems in 30 days.
There’s also a piece “created for Issue 6 of Union Station Magazine,” as explained on Ayllon’s website, and which is based on Sam Sax’s poem, “The Handsome Phalangesist’s Lament,” which reads in part: “When you kiss me I am reduced to my most basic elements: several buckets of water, a trash bag of carbon, a shot glass packed with salt.”
Nowadays, Ayllon works for an ad agency in New York City. “I love doing that!” he says. “It’s all about balance, [and] it’s all good.”
When asked if he has an advice for aspiring artists out there, he confesses that he doesn’t really have any advice, but rather a “character flaw.”
“I’m extremely stubborn. I just never wanted to do anything else other than to be creative and make stuff,” he said. “So working in any other industry wasn’t an option. I just worked really hard because I didn’t really have a Plan B. After I graduated from college, I started a T-shirt company because I’d always wanted to start a T-shirt company. I was a fan of this T-shirt company called Johnny Cupcakes, which started in Boston. And I just wanted to be the next Johnny Cupcakes. And so I started this company, and then after a few years it wasn’t taking off. I had to end it. It felt like I was a huge failure. So, the best advice I can give or I could have given myself at that moment is that being a little bit fluid is okay. That the dream that you originally thought of might change a little, but as long as you’re still happy, that’s fine. So I had to give up on that dream, but in the process I found more dreams that I didn’t know that I wanted.”
He still has plans and goals, especially for the New Year. David Ayllon plans on doing more photo shoots with “queens that I admire and adore.” He also plans on combining photography and graphic design, because, after all, one art form feeds the other.
Find out more about David Ayllon at www.davidayllon.com.