Aaron Hatherall is a veteran London painter/drawer with over 30 years of experience. His illustrations and dark imagery will take you on a thrilling ride into the subconscious. In this installment of Fuse Profiles, we talk to Aaron about nightmares, vices of choice, and presumptions in the art world.

Do you have nightmares? If so, what has been your worst?

We all have nightmares from time to time, usually stress or anxiety induced. I’ve been asked this question more than once in reference to my work and I’m still not sure if I’m supposed to be offended or not. I suppose some people look at it and assume that it could only be born of a tormented or chemically altered mind.

graphite drawing - surrealism woman in flower
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

Neither of those things are true. They might be presented in a dark manner but that doesn’t necessarily mean they come from a dark place and certainly not that all things from a dark place are negative. They’re merely unknown and all things, good and bad, were at one point unknown.

What’s your favourite Disney guilty pleasure? 

I have a soft spot for The Rescuers Down Under. Also, does Wall-E count? I feel like Disney – Pixar movies don’t really apply to this.

Graphite drawing - surrealism hands
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

How long does it take you to complete each piece on average?


Over the years my work has grown larger and with it the amount of time to completion of each piece. Currently, I’d say each one averages about 60 hours. I keep meaning to start an hour log at the outset of each drawing so I can clock in and out, so to speak, and have a definitive record of the time spent.

Watercolour - surrealism painting
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

What’s your vice of choice? 

Beer. Or Skittles. Not together.

Graphite drawing - surrealism sci-fi creatures
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

Where do these images come from (your mind, inspiration, etc.)?

As for where they come from, I don’t know. There’s a well inside me that they slowly rise to the surface of and are often times as nebulous in their meaning to me as they are to others. I find that if I try to force a drawing nothing happens. Doodling and sketching idly does illicit results but not as consistently as it probably should. The sketching really takes off after the foundations of the image have been laid down and that most often – boringly – happens rather spontaneously.

Graphite drawing - science fiction surrealism
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

For the most part, the only major changes occur when translating from image in my head to paper since I can already “see” the finished piece and then have to work towards it from the beginning. My early inspiration was Salvador Dali, H.R. Giger and Zdzislaw Beksinski – coincidentally all nightmarish work – because I loved the mood and depth of the paintings. I started to find that my inspiration bordered too closely with imitation and [I] have since tried to be cognizant of direct similarities with recent inspiration like Kris Kuksi and Dan Ouellette.


What’s your opinion on dogs?

As a kid, I was afraid of dogs. I had no real reason to be; I’d never had a scarring encounter with one. They seemed very unpredictable to me which made me nervous and I think they probably sensed that. Nowadays I see them differently: as potential shotguns of unconditional love and mirrors of their owner.

Watercolour painting - surrealism sci-fi subject
Artwork by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

What’s your favourite artwork by another artist?  

Untitled by Zdzislaw Beksinski. Photo via wikiart.org.

My favourite piece [is Untitled] by Beksinski. He never titled any of his work which makes looking up anything specific of his difficult. I once sold a print to someone who had an idea about what the piece meant but then read the title of it which completely changed his mind. Since then I also stopped titling my work and just numbering them to allow people to make their own conclusions.

That particular Beksinski painting, the “webbing” of the stone arms that is indicative of a lot of his work, is thick with nostalgia. When I was a kid I found a baseball sized rock that had the same type of texture on it. I assumed it was a fossil – which I was fond of – but had never seen one like that. Much to my dismay it got thrown out. It was pretty dirty.

What’s your favourite piece of personal work? 

Graphite drawing - surrealism helmet skull octopus
17 by Aaron Hatherall. Photo via bizarrecontraption.tumblr.com.

17 is by far my favourite piece. It was the first drawing I did after I got a projector and represents a significant step up in size and quality. You don’t usually get to see that kind of sudden progression in your work and it was exciting to get a glimpse into what my potential could be. It’s an affirmation that I haven’t plateaued which is artistic death.

Aaron Hatherall is the answer to my cryptic prayers. You can find this elusive artist’s work and further information at one source: his tumblr.

Fuse Profiles is a series created by Emma Marr to highlight the incredible talent and creativity found in London, Ontario (and beyond). These pieces span across all media and showcase some of the most interesting and promising artists practicing locally today. Stay tuned for more profiles, published every two weeks from now on! 

Feature photo by Aaron Hatherall.


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