Adam Palmer and a theory of the grotesque

This is Part 2 of “Beauty vs. Ugly.” A theme proposed quite a while ago when I was playing with an idea I called the email games. It ended up being on pause for too long, but may find a new life soon.

Part 1 is an interview with Dan Denardo, one of my favorite photographers. We talked about learning to see. Sometimes beauty is obvious. Like when you’re at the Grand Canyon or a tropical beach. But everyday there is beauty all around that you can easily miss if you don’t look for it.

In this interview, we talk with Adam Palmer about creating art that turns the grotesque into something interesting.

Follow Adam on Instagram here.

Listen to the unedited interview audio here:

The one and only Adam Palmer.

Adam says that it started off as a teenager’s act of rebellion. The art teacher pushed and pushed for the perfect replication of a nice bowl of fruit. At least that’s how it felt. His response was,

I’m not going to do that!

Things became more and more grotesque. Then in college the idea developed further when the challenge was to find create interest within something apparently grotesque.

(illustration by Adam Palmer)

He found a tension between interesting and attractive. Clean lines versus details that give character and frame a story.

For example, which is more memorable and intriguing? Someone who looks like they jumped out of a stock photo? Or someone with a giant scar on their face? Who would you remember more?


(Drawing by Adam Palmer)

Art is more than pretty pictures. It’s about storytelling. It’s finding the angle that is overlooked. It’s the subtle details that create texture and hint at an emotion or a backstory. It’s about creating things that make people reconsider and give a second thought to what is in front of their eyes.

I asked Adam about what might come next. His answer?

This current theme developed not-on-purpose, so I’d like it to develop naturally into the next thing.

For now, we’re still enjoying the occasional glimpse into this theory of the grotesque.

Line art in process (by Adam Palmer)

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