Because it’s been a part of my art for most of my life it seem like a good time to explain my signature and current web name.
XT comes from my family name, Thaxton. My father’s name was Thackston until he went into the Air Force. His original documents were burned in a courthouse fire. So when he got new documents he changed the “cks” to “x”. So my brothers and I were the first generation of Thaxton in our family.
When I was a kid, learning about art history, I found out about signet rings that was used to stamp the wax sealed communications. I was very intrigued by the double signet. I played with different forms until I figured out a modified cursive lowercase “xt”. When it is flipped over the “Rt” is there.
Long before created anything, I started incorporating this signature in my work. Many times it would be hidden in the work. I’ve used this with almost everything that I’ve created. If you happen to have one of my older pieces let me know if you found the hidden signature.
I got a chance to play with jewelry making while I was in Merchant Marine training. Because I was able to test out of math class, I got to take a couple of electives. In the jewelry class I got the chance to finally create my signet ring. This has been used to put my maker’s mark on 3D that I’ve made.
XT Illos is my current web name for the illustration work that I’m creating. Fantasy Art is my favorite genre. I also create logos and tattoo designs under XT Illos.
Continuing on my experiences as an artist. I found it difficult to figure out where I fit as an artist after school. I took odd jobs like sign painting, portrait drawing, cake decorating and upholstery repair. I even tried making leather clothing and lingerie. Because I could make almost anything, I tried everything I could think of to get work.
School didn’t really help me develop my direction or focus. It was sort of left up to us to decide. But to be fair I didn’t complete the course at either school. I had to leave SCAD because of finances. Between schools I had a life ending event that I was lucky enough to survive but not unscathed. I was about two quarters away from finishing at AIA. Then the place I worked shut down so finances again. I did pick up some good fundamentals from both. I still use parts of them today.
I was going through Scavenger’s News letter and found the SPWAO. I was able to stay busy working with various small press publishers for about four years. At times the deadlines were really close. Mainly because I had built a good professional relationship with the publishers. They could trust that I could deliver my projects and last minute assignments where other artists fell through. I even placed “Honorable Mention” in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrators of the Future Contest. Finances became my down fall again. This time because the small press didn’t really. I burned through my savings in about five years and was forced to go back to the only paying work which had nothing to do with art at all.
In the next installment I will describe the small press experiences.
This is the pencil sketches, digital design and final digital version of “Hel’s Winter Harvest”
It’s just over a week until the anniversary. I’m very excited for the celebration! 20 years is a big point to make to! It’s my greatest accomplishment to have built my family strong like this! Actual true love has been the secret ingredient all along. The thing is I never thought I would ever find it before. Now I can’t imagine my life without it. My wife is my perfect match in almost every way! Love is easy with her. Ok, that’s it for now just an update. I’ve got to save some of this for the actual anniversary. I’ll be able to post photos of the creativity things I’ve been up to after the anniversary celebration. No spoiling for me!
The Sources of My Inspiration!
I’m trying a different direction with the posts I will be putting here. This and the following posts under this title will share parts of my world. What helped to create the artist in me? Why am I driven to create? What has influenced and inspired me to do these things? What do I like to create?
As an artist, it’s important that my work find you guys and others like you. I want to share the things I imagine with everyone. There are so many people, places and things to show you.
But before that I should do a better job of introducing myself and sharing why this is such an important thing. My name is Richard Thaxton. In my Bio I explain about the reason why I chose the name XT Illos. The oldest being that an “X” was the way most people who couldn’t read or write would mark their signature.
Due to differing processes in training kids to read early on in school, many of my classmates and myself did not learn how to read properly. The new pilot program was not continued when we were transferred back to our original group the next year. This is where my choice to express myself visually took roots and grew. Even though I took an advance placement test in middle school and scored 11th to College level, I struggled with reading a lot all the way through high school. In the first quarter of college I taught myself to read.
I’ve been drawing for a long time. As a kid, I would try to reproduce small images of art that came in catalogs into larger pencil and colored pencil drawings. I got pretty good at catching the details. My favorites were the old tall sailing ships, pirate ships and different animals.
I was and still am a avid cartoon junkie which of course includes anime! Those and the live action dramas would keep me glued to the TV on Saturday mornings or the theater, when we could go. Many films about great works really mesmerized me. Some of my early favorites were Kimba the White Lion, Ultraman, Speed Racer, King Kong, Godzilla, Star Trek, Tarzan, the Seven Voyages of Sinbad, the Land That Time Forgot, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolfman.
There was lots of influences all around. there was lots of primers for the creativity to start flowing in my imagination. One day in high school a friend shared a book with me that really set things into motion. It was by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the John Carter series A Princess of Mars. This story and the artworks by Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta was the final push. I was enchanted and felt driven to learn how to tell stories with my art.
It’s been a long road from then until I could properly relate what I was seeing in my imagination. Lots of frustrating attempts in the beginning. As I would practice and study the things I was attempting to create I began to pick up more details. I took art in middle and high school. I also took classes in college for art both fine and commercial. One day I decided to give story illustration a try but that’s a story next time.
I don’t have any examples of my old work because of them being lost in a storage fire. I will drop in older pencil sketches, design processes and finished art that has not been seen since most of them were published.
“Wack” 16in x 20in Oil on Illo Board 1995