Amazing artwork is undoubtedly one of the greatest aspects when attending any comic/pop culture convention. Over the past couple years I have been blessed with getting to know some incredible individuals responsible for capturing the essence of our favorite characters. The Fan Fest organization itself offers up exceptional talent at their Walker Stalker Con (WSC) and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest (HVFF) events; a true feast for the eyes. In fact, it was at WSC New Jersey in 2016 that I fortuitously met artist AJ Moore. And it is with great pleasure that I share a peek into his creative world right here at Fan Fest News.
Wearing that signature cowboy hat and a smile on his face, AJ greets all his fans with warmth and enthusiasm. Anyone who has met AJ will surely attest to the fact that his level of charisma is only slightly secondary to his incredible talent.
But how did AJ find himself ‘behind the booth’? I have discovered that life experiences often dictate an artist’s path to creativity and childhood loves are often developed into an adulthood career. Sometimes the road is rocky, but still a road worth taking. What was AJ’s journey? Intrigued as always, I reached out to get some answers.
I quickly learned, that from an early age, AJ has a love of cartoons. As a child, he drew legends like Tom & Jerry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Thundercats. AJ drew for himself because he enjoyed it; it was a means of escape from a difficult upbringing. While he did manage to sell some of his artwork during his youth, it never entered his mind to do it for a living. In fact, being an artist was sadly not an acceptable career choice in his environment. AJ, embracing his love for animals, seemed to have the answer though as he envisioned himself becoming a veterinarian. It was not until he entered a program for underprivileged youth that he realized becoming a vet was not all happiness and perhaps not the career he anticipated. AJ decided that art and its ability to bring people joy was perhaps his best option. Knowing he would face challenges, AJ pushed forward in his artistic endeavors.
Displaying a vast array of styles, AJ works seamlessly with a variety of mediums. This is something I found fascinating considering the majority of artists I have met thus far tend to express themselves with a single ‘look’. As I learned more about AJ’s artistic background, the more I understood that it is his creative adaptability that sets him apart.
While AJ indicated that he took some art classes in middle and high school, he had no formal training while growing up. He went on to tell me that it was in college he devoted time to learning animation and spent time with Warner Brothers animator, Rusty Mills. Best known for his work on Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures and Pinky and the Brain. Mr. Mills served as a mentor to AJ, teaching him about art and creating characters. AJ even worked with John Kricfalusi, who happens to be the creator of one of my old favorite animated shows, Ren and Stimpy. He clearly had some top-notch influences.
“My ‘varying’ style has come about from all of the different artistic endeavors I have perused and people that I’ve met along the way. I’ve been an animator (2D & 3D), a caricaturist, a portrait artist, a children’s book illustrator, a character designer, a storyboard artist and much more. So with all of those opportunities, it caused me to adapt, learn, and want to push my skill as far as I could.” Source: Hypable.com – AJ Moore
AJ eventually secured a 9-5 job as a lead animator. Unfortunately, job security is afforded to no one and AJ found himself in a position that required him to move on. He took this as an opportunity to try something new. With one easel and his newly released comic book Super Newts, AJ made his first comic convention appearance at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2010.
Something clearly clicked for AJ at NYCC and he has been on the comic con scene ever since, even making an appearance at the inaugural Walker Stalker Con 2013 in Atlanta. AJ considers himself fortunate to have met many encouraging artists along the way. To have faith in your ability is a must in order to succeed, for others to have faith in your ability is a wonderful validation of hard work. AJ Moore has deservedly earned a stellar reputation for his work ethic, talent, attitude, and facing challenges. In short, he sets a great example for youngsters looking to make a career out of creativity.
“Always strive to be better than I am. Kids should be better than me. Take things to the next level, always move forward.” – AJ Moore
Having started out with his own creations, AJ’s ever-expanding portfolio also includes some pretty spectacular fan art. It is a pleasure to visit AJ’s booth when our convention paths cross and I always look forward to seeing his new pieces. In an ever-changing environment, it is important to have versatility and stay on top of the latest fandom fixations. Whether representing The Walking Dead, Arrow, Wonder Woman, even Pennywise the clown, I can count on AJ to keep things fresh.
While an admirer of his fan art, I am also impressed with AJ’s original characters. One of my favorites being Chi Chi the Cosplaying Panda. Chi Chi is simply adorable as he dresses up to emulate his favorite fandom characters. AJ’s ability to incorporate cosplay with a sweet and cuddly animal brings a smile to anyone’s face. Chi Chi perfectly reflects AJ’s love of cartoons and animal styled characters.
In addition to imagery, AJ has an incredible talent for engaging children through storytelling. Along with his brother Tony Moore, the pair created their very own book, Dorse and Doose . Based on the adventures of a lovable horse (Dorse) that thinks he is a dog thanks to being raised by a quirky cow dog (Doose), Dorse and Doose capture the hearts of youngsters as well as those still young at heart.
It is clear to see why AJ Moore is a well-loved presence in any comic convention. His creativity and talent will draw you in but his kind and open spirit will keep you coming back. The only thing he asks in return is respect. AJ carries himself with dignity and prefers to exclaim his pride in being an artist rather than defending it.
Getting to know AJ over the past few months has been a blessing and I am honored to call him a friend. Thank you AJ!
AJ can be found at Fan Fest Portland this very weekend as well as other events throughout the year. Be sure to stop by and pay him a visit. Follow AJ Moore on social media for his latest news and updates… Facebook: @ArtistAJMoore, Instagram: @artistajmoore, Twitter: @gud_fit. To check out lots more artwork and other purchasable items, visit his website: Gud Fit Entertainment.