ANCHORAGE - He's been doing art in Anchorage for years—“just drawing my whole life, I just can't get away from it” he said—but the natural beauty of Alaska doesn't do much for artist Lance Lekander.
“I was born here in Anchorage,” he shrugged. “So if I want to see a moose or mountains, I just open my back door.”
Lekander’s art seems to come from another time. And another world.
“Skeletons, monsters, bugs, robots, you know, just the kind of stuff I'm interested in.”
His robots and monsters are inspired by old movies and comic books—“Godzilla’s my hero,” he said—while his paintings and sculpture mix human history with mythology.
“Primitive African art, Aztec and Inca art, Day of the Dead, Mexican folk art, Easter Island heads,” he listed off. He said he also draws inspiration from old science fiction B movies from the 1950s, but “I'm more interested in the idea of the movie… the cheesiness of the movie,” he admits. “I just like the robots.”
Along with influences like Dr. Seuss, M.C. Escher, and Maurice “Where the Wild Things Are” Sendak, Lekander knows he has a wide array of inspiration. “I take all that into my subconscious and it sort of just gets jumbled around and sort of just spits out whatever comes out.”
And what comes out—skeletons on skiis, rusty robots with pennies for teeth, and stuffed-animal cycloptic monsters—has allowed Lekander to make his living as a full-time freelance artist.
His work can be seen on the covers of magazines and textbooks, as well as in local galleries and craft shops.
But no matter what he creates—“I paint shoes!” he said, holding up a pair of painted Converse sneakers with glee—whether it's monsters or robots, Lekander says it has to be whimsical.
“Everything has to be happy, you know? Happy bugs, happy monsters,” he said. “People see a skeleton or something and people always think of death or something, but mine are always happy, you know, a skeleton riding a bike or whatever, just another day in the life of a skeleton, you know? Death takes a holiday.”
But even after years of making his monsters, gargoyles, and robots, there's still some room for Lekander to dream big.
“I'd love some day to do some welding and do some big metal, do some huge yard art robots or something,” he laughed. “My own Easter Island heads!”
And while he doesn't think he'll be welding together giant robots any time soon, for Lance Lekander, it's his imagination that’s out of this world.
More of Lekander’s work can be found on his personal website.