An Interview with Noll Griffin

On Trying to Cure What We Shouldn’t Have Caused


EB: Before I get into my questions about the subject matter of this piece, I’d love to hear about the medium and what you used to create this work of art!

NG: I did this one entirely in Krita, which is my favorite program to use for digital art, with my trusty Wacom tablet.

EB: You let us know this piece was done while listening to an audiobook about rabies throughout history–how did that specific influence inspire this piece, and what elements are directly connected to that podcast?

NG: While listening to the timeline of how this disease kept popping up through time under different names but similar circumstances, I wanted to illustrate the stubborn push and pull of fear and familiarity in humans’ relationship with animals as they try to escape our sprawl or adapt to us, and the stubborn limits in our compassion for them. That is, we as a group may often roll full steam ahead in throwing up buildings right in the middle of where a bunch of bats are known to roost, but if we see a cute bat on the ground, it’s impossible for many of us individually not to try and help it even knowing it might be contagious. This is the reason for the muzzled hand in the center, an attempt to keep one’s self from both harming nature and being harmed by it in turn, as well as a nod to the aggression part of rabies which was described in anxiety-inducing detail through various historical accounts read in the audiobook.

EB: What drew you specifically to visually representing these remedies?

NG: Most of the remedies I depicted, like most of the attempted rabies remedies in history in general, revolve around interacting directly with the source of danger (Hair of the dog that bit you, etc.) or a different source of danger in nature like the poisonous datura flowers in this piece. I thought these would make a good symbol for the things we are willing to try, and not willing to try, to avoid zoonotic diseases.

EB: Aside from podcasts, where else do you look for inspiration?

NG: I get inspiration from vintage greeting cards, Wikipedia’s random article feature, nature guidebooks, my dream journal, weird flea market finds, and long-abandoned paranormal message boards.

Noll Griffin is a digital illustrator and linoleum printmaker living in Berlin, Germany. His work takes inspiration from the oddities of nature and nostalgia from a queer lens. He is also an occasional singer-songwriter with a few bedroom-recorded albums to his name floating around. You can find more from him on Twitter (@nollthere) or Instagram (@nollprints).

This interview was conducted by Ellery Beck, one of the co-editors of Beaver Magazine.

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