I interviewed the artist Arik Roper for the 2011 book Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood (Soft Skull Press). The wonderful HiLobrow.com, curated and edited by Joshua Glenn, recently ran the entire transcript of my chat with Roper:
Illustration and visionary art have long been kindred spirits. Many artists belonging to the Symbolists and Decadents (art movements heavy with occult and esoteric flavor) started off as illustrators or graphic designers and many continued to incorporate these techniques into their work. This tradition continued into the twentieth century with artists such as Ernst Fuchs, H.R. Giger, and — more recently — Mark Ryden and Amanda Sage. In the Sixties, this commingling of visionary states and illustration crossed over into pop culture by way of comic books and album covers. Some of Jack Kirby’s cosmic landscapes and other-worldly machinery are as mind-altering as any Symbolist painting, and the ethereal floating islands on a Roger Dean album cover convey a similar sensibility.