January 17, 2018
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  • Pasadena artists Dan and Justin Supple will display their whimsical works at the Aloft at BWI in Linthicum throughout September.
    Photos by Zach Sparks
    Pasadena artists Dan and Justin Supple will display their whimsical works at the Aloft at BWI in Linthicum throughout September.
  • Born only a year apart, artists Dan and Justin Supple were raised by a fairytale-obsessed mom and a sci-fi aficionado dad who encouraged their sons’ creativity with a steady diet of fantastical literature.
    Photo by Kerry Muir
    Born only a year apart, artists Dan and Justin Supple were raised by a fairytale-obsessed mom and a sci-fi aficionado dad who encouraged their sons’ creativity with a steady diet of fantastical literature.

Supple Couple To Display Artwork At The Aloft At BWI

Kerry Muir
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August 26, 2015

Meet Dan and Justin Supple, dynamic duo of fantasy illustration and animation. The talented twosome from Pasadena will present an exhibit of new work at the Aloft at BWI in Linthicum throughout September, sponsored by the Chesapeake Arts Center, with a meet-the-artists event on Thursday, September 24, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

Dan illustrates Japanese fairy tales and Thai legends, reflecting his fascination with Eastern mysticism. Justin fields requests from the kids he and Dan work with at School Age Child Care in Pasadena, drawing fantastical creations sprung from the kids’ minds. “I’m still backlogged,” Justin said. “I still have a list, four or five pages long of stuff the kids told me to draw.”

What do they ask him to draw? “Oh, all kinds of weird things,” Justin admitted with a laugh. “A raccoon puppet. A fuzzy alien. A breakfast cannon. I have no idea what that even is.”

Dan is also amused by the requests. “Kids will ask us to draw Pokémon or [the superhero] Raven, but I’ll sneak bits of classical art into it,” Dan explained. “For example, one of the kids asked me to draw a water Pokémon, and I drew it, but I drew him surfing the great wave of Kanagawa!”

Born only a year apart, Dan and Justin were raised by a fairytale-obsessed mom and a sci-fi aficionado dad who encouraged their sons’ creativity with a steady diet of fantastical literature, including J.R.R. Tolkien, Hans Christian Anderson and Arthurian legends.

“A lot of literature is what inspired us,” Dan said. “Reading, and then picturing everything in your mind.”

Fondly known as “Princess” to family and friends, the Supples’ mother was a natural with a paintbrush. “She had no formal training but a lot of latent talent,” Dan recounted.

Princess painted vivid murals on the walls of the lackluster military housing where the family lived as renters, pulling up stakes and changing addresses like gypsies every few years.

“When we were young, we’d be like, ‘I love X-Men!’” Dan said. “Two weeks later, all the X-Men would be in this giant mural on our wall.”

Princess painted the walls with Disney figures, scenes from fairytales and superheroes from comic books, such as the 1980s series “The Tick.” During the first time the family moved, a military inspector came to check the house to ensure the place was move-in ready for the next tenants. When the inspector saw Princess’ X-Men mural, however, his jaw dropped.

“My mom didn’t realize you couldn’t paint on the walls of military housing,” Dan recalled. “And the inspector was like, ‘Do you mind if I just … take these murals?’ He cut the whole wall out, put drywall up and took the murals, saying, ‘My kids will love this!’ He just took the whole wall out.”

It was a seminal moment; if a complete stranger was willing to remove an entire wall in order to enjoy a work of art in their own home, then art was that important — a necessity, not a frill.

Dan and Justin’s father, Jamie, a computer programmer for the U.S. Navy, travelled extensively for work. He had an eye for the esoteric, and always returned home with exotic souvenirs: papyrus scrolls from Egypt, a jade dragon sculpture from China, glass from a volcano in Pompeii, chopsticks and squid jerky from Japan.

From conflict-ridden Bosnia, Jamie returned with a giant artillery shell with designs hammered into it by Bosnian artisans — the quintessential symbol of the creative spirit at work, even in the midst of destruction.

“He wouldn’t bring us back a snow globe; he’d bring back something deep,” Justin said.

Justin’s style is influenced by the animation of Rankin-Bass Productions. Dan cites Mike Mignola (“Hellboy”), the Brothers Hildebrandt (“Lord of the Rings” calendar illustrations) and Frank Miller (“Ronin,” “Sin City”) as his influences. Both brothers are still developing and exploring new frontiers.

“I don’t intend to stop at watercolors; I want to keep trying different things,” Dan stated.

They also have humble expectations for how people will view their work. “Honestly, I’d like people to look at the work and giggle,” Justin said. “If I can bring people just a little happiness, that’d brighten my day.”


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