Monica Knighton’s booth, filled with whimsical watercolors and nature-inspired jewelry pieces, appeared misplaced among the rows of booths dedicated to superhero comic art at Austin Comic Con over the weekend. Many convention-goers stopped in their tracks to thumb through her self-designed decks of tarot playing cards and honeycomb-shaped necklaces.
Knighton is a local illustrator, jewelry maker and children’s book author who sells her works at artists’ events in the Austin area. Her art offers a different approach to the fan art usually featured at comic cons. The Edgar Allan Poe pins and tarot decks she makes channel the spirit of fan homage, but with her own emphasis on literary forms.
“I’m involved more with the artisans and the crafters than the commercial modern art world in Austin,” Knighton said. “I tend to lean toward genre events like Comic Con Austin and independent events like Here There Be Monsters.”
Knighton was born and raised in the Austin area and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas State University. As a child, Knighton went on trips with her father to explore Texas state parks and observe native Texas wildlife. She said her Texas upbringing influenced her art and outlook on life.
“That kind of outdoorsy, self-reliant [and] go-and-see-what-the-world-is-like attitude definitely tied into it,” Knighton said. “Even if it’s not a direct, genre-specific link, I think that the Texas outlook definitely ties into it.”
The majority of Knighton’s nature-inspired illustrations are done in a combination of watercolor and acrylic ink. Knighton said her favorite medium to work with is watercolor.
“I have this goofy illusion that I’m doing stained glass by flooding the color in layers,” Knighton said. “I like the way that the light shines through and makes [the illustrations] luminous, and I like that I can add the hard edges of a drawing through acrylic ink.”
Knighton’s fascination with literary work also manifests in her art. She designed a set of tarot cards inspired by W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Stolen Child,” and was contacted by the Yeats Society of Ireland to display her work.
“I was an obsessive reader growing up,” Knighton said. “Writers were my heroes, and I was drawn to the mysterious and obtuse qualities in poetry.”
Knighton’s collection of illustrations heavily features folkloric figures, such as fairies, owls and witches. Her watercolor prints of stags drew significant interest from convention attendees.
“I respond to symbols that lend themselves to analyzing,” Knighton said. “I think it’s interesting that themes repeat across folklore of different countries and that you can connect with people through symbols.”
To see more photos from Comic Con, check them out here -