A sandy-haired high schooler, his slightly-hunched back illuminated by the gentle glow of the clip-on lamp attached to the top of his sloped desk, picks up a pen and slowly marks his sketchbook.
Finn Taylor (10) became interested in art at 10. Come sixth grade, Taylor clutched a drawing of an octopus to his chest, grinning from ear to ear after he won first place in a class doodle competition. His artistic talent has only grown since that small but thrilling victory four years ago.
Born in London, Taylor and his family moved to San Diego last August because of his dad’s job. Even after being in the U.S. for the past seven months, Taylor is still not familiar with some elements of American culture and customs.
In the beginning, Taylor was somewhat reluctant about making the dramatic move to the U.S. He was uncomfortable leaving the everything about the home he knew so well, from his friends to the little shop that sold fish and chips near his neighborhood.
“I didn’t want to leave my friends behind,” Taylor said. “[But] if I didn’t move, I’d probably regret it.”
His fingers have a mind of their own as they gracefully travel across the sea of white before him, filling its emptiness with small, black dots.
Taylor finds inspiration from an array of different sources, which includes movies like “Spirited Away,” artists like Paul Jackson and certain types of music.
Perhaps the main source of influence for Taylor and his artistic style is horror movies. Taylor particularly enjoys creating drawings of villains like Pennywise and No-Face from “IT” and “Spirited Away.”
“I get inspired by film, so if I see something I like in a film I draw it,” Taylor said.
Among others, Jackson and Kerby Rosanes are two artists from whom Taylor takes inspiration. Although Taylor and his two role models are similar in that they all use pen and ink, the three differ mainly on what subjects they draw.
Taylor picks up the pen and he is transported to a world of his own. Everything about the room is silent, except for the mysterious instrumental music in the background and the satisfying scratching sounds of pen on paper.
To Taylor, San Diego is more “creative” than London. He is attracted to the street art, a different, yet exciting source of creativity for him. He finds American artists notably friendlier than the “serious and depressing” British artists he is used to.
“There are more artists over here,” Taylor said. “You’ve also got L.A., where there is a lot of film.”
The silver needle of the clock hanging above his four-poster bed crawls to the top of the hour. Yet the hand stops moving.
Art has dramatically shaped Taylor’s life by allowing him to “see things more creatively.” As an artist, his unique perspective permeates even the smallest details in life.
“I just appreciate[s] the effort that goes into making a film I’m watching … I feel like I understand how long it took or actually how hard it is to do,” Taylor said.
The multitude of black-and-white ink drawings that flood Taylor’s Instagram are testaments to his passion for experimenting with dark and eerie themes.
“I like to draw things that I think look cool and tell a meaningful story,” Taylor said.
Over the course of many evenings, a shape slowly starts to blossom from the tiny army of dots flecking the canvas from white to gray.
Taylor’s artwork is unique because it also often strays from realism. Taylor prefers drawing fantastical concepts for one important reason.
“I recognize that [the realism pieces] are good,” Taylor said. “But when someone draws a really accurately drawn picture, like a baby’s face, I just feel like they could do something better because I feel like they could just achieve that with taking a photo.”
Two hollow caves for eyes. Mouth agape, revealing a row of chipped or missing teeth. The sandy-haired figure examines his work. The cracked skull on the paper stares back at him.
Taylor sells his art online through Society6, a website where shoppers can browse through accounts run by independent artists. Customers have the option of buying the art directly or a print on a customized object, like a pillow or t-shirt. So far, Taylor has only sold prints of his work, but he is open to taking commissions on both Society6 and his Instagram.
Although Taylor has not nailed down his plans for the future, he knows that he will pursue a career in the humanities, while keeping art as a hobby.
Tilting his head backward, Taylor turns off the lamp. Submerged in darkness, he leans back in his chair. He closes his eyes and paints a picture of his next project in his mind.