Local INKSLINGERS art show celebrates its first year as a collective
INKSLINGERS’ February 2018 First Friday show at Yeti
Derik Hefner was a budding young comic book artist when he visited a local university’s art school. He was about to graduate high school and wanted to attend a college that would boost his talent and prospects. When the head of the art department scanned Hefner’s portfolio, he seemed impressed. But then he said something Hefner would never forget:
“Don’t worry; we’ll get you into real art.”
Real art. It stung, but he refused to believe that the comics he loved weren’t real art. He didn’t think much of that art school, either.
“Well,” he said, smiling. “I didn’t go there.”
That comic book kid survives today. When I met him at Yeti, Hefner was wearing a vintage Doctor Strange shirt and a Green Lantern pin on his black hat. He’s now the leader of INKSLINGERS, a community of Tulsa artists and illustrators sharing support, advice, and exposure.
After years of going it alone doing comics, logos, and illustration, he came to a realization.
“Rather than have my work get lost in a sea of other things that are just like it, maybe I can get my work in places where it can stand out,” Hefner said.
So, he started reaching out and engaging with his local comic book and art community. On their Facebook page, INKSLINGERS bills the group as “a motley assemblage of outsider artists and general ne’er-do-wells who keep our city honest.” Since its beginning in 2017, it has gained almost 750 members. Scroll down their Facebook timeline and you’ll see why: well-rendered faces, bodies, superheroes, animals, creeps, and abstract art are all over the group. In creating a community of artists, Hefner has also amassed a repository of Tulsa’s artistic talent.
That talent is put on display at the INKSLINGERS’ monthly art shows. Every First Friday, the group gathers six or so artists to display and sell at Yeti from 8 p.m. until close.
“We’re the First Friday Art Crawl’s after-party,” Hefner said.
“Five years ago, I never would have wanted to bring anyone into town,” said INKSLINGERS artist D.M. Williams. “Now, it’s exploding. To be in the beginning stages of that is insane. It’s really exciting.”
Williams has been doodling his whole life, but after a recent creative dry spell, a friend pushed him to start drawing again.
“They would just push a piece of paper into my hand and say, ‘draw.’ After that, I didn’t want
Williams’s work is colorful and explosive, with detailed characters and ocean-inspired psychedelic pieces.
Chris Osbourne, another INKSLINGERS artist, emphasized the community aspect of the group.
“It’s just a great group of people, living their life, trying to do some art, helping to uplift each other and saying, ‘Hey! What do you think of my stuff?’”
Obsourne showed me what he called his “brain splatter” pieces: a collection of Rorschach-style drawings that if turned one way look like one thing (a labyrinth), and if turned another way look like something else (a house).
“Just let your brain go,” he told me as I turned a piece one way, then another.
Joy Eaton has been with INKSLINGERS since last October. Her work spans many different styles. Alongside her dramatic pencil drawings of Batman, Spock, and Bowie are studies of hands, abstract renderings of trees, and the occasional nude.
“I like to be eclectic with art,” she said. “I do new things all the time.”
“You get used to doing your own thing,” she said, referring to the way INKSLINGERS gets her out of her comfort zone. “It’s inspirational when you have a bunch of artists coming together and encouraging each other and giving each other tips and tricks. If it weren’t for INKSLINGERS, I wouldn’t have branched out the way I have.”
On Friday, April 6, INKSLINGERS will hold its one-year anniversary show. The back fence of Yeti will become a canvas for INKSLINGERS artists to engage in a collective “art jam,” the walls will be packed with INKSLINGERS art, and Hefner will be working on a Yeti mural.
INKSLINGERS Anniversary Show
Friday, April 6 | 8:00 p.m.
Yeti, 417 N. Main St.