Many of Jon Boam’s characters sport animal heads or conical hats straight out of David the Gnome. But his fascination with otherworldly architecture, his twists on conventional fantasy designs and his unsettling cyborg creations add a richer, darker note to his illustrations. Simple, almost child-like images grow out into intricate narratives, and almost-familiar characters find themselves in unexpected scenes.
Boam’s style is neatly exemplified in his coloring book Colour Me Menagerie, available from Nobrow Press. He takes the conventional trappings of a coloring book: anthropomorphized animals rendered in simple, accessible designs. But he puts his own spin on his modest beastiary, handing retro cameras to squirrel photographers, placing deerstalker caps atop birds’ heads and pairing a well-dressed wolf with a fashionable ewe.
His illustrations, however, play with far more complex eccentricities, blending architecture and biology in a single character design, packing his subjects with outlandish objects and inviting us to guess at their purpose, and taking a simple scene and adding two degrees of weirdness where one would be comfortable. He makes it difficult to separate the technological from the mystical and figure out where humans end and machines begin.
You can find more of Boam’s illustrations through his Tumblr and Flickr account.