WASHINGTON, PA (Aug. 5, 2016) – It’s hard to imagine that a sketch on a restaurant receipt could launch an art career, but Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) alumnus J.J. Lendl ’07 is a believer – and so are his fans.
Lendl, the artist behind the newest set of officially-licensed “X-Files” artwork from Acme Archives, debuted his first set of collectable lithographs in July at the Mecca of sci-fi enthusiasts: Comic-Con International in San Diego.
“I’m really excited that this first set is out and people are responding to it,” Lendl said. “I’ve been sharing these designs online for almost two years now, and to have people come in and say, ‘You’re real! I love your work!’ was amazing.”
It’s been quite a journey from personal art project to signing his work for fans at Comic-Con. Lendl’s X-Files Poster Project began in October 2014, when he challenged himself to create a new piece of art each day of the month. He chose the sci-fi television show as his art topic while at dinner with friends, after sketching the show’s main characters on his receipt.
“I thought this would be a great show to feature because it’s a visually interesting series, and it can exist across a lot of different genres,” he said.
Lendl created posters for fan favorite episodes from throughout the show’s run. He posted his designs to Tumblr, where they caught the eye of a 20th Century FOX brand manager using fan art in a social media campaign to promote the “X-Files” series reboot. Lendl granted permission to use his artwork, and offered to create more for the company to share.
“From there, my challenge became to make my way through the series and see how far I could get,” Lendl said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to get my art out there on a global scale.”
He was right. Within months, Lendl received an offer from 20th Century FOX to turn his work into an officially-licensed product of the “X-Files” franchise. He worked with Acme Archives to put together the first set of lithographs, and debuted the set at Comic-Con 2016, where he spent a day at the Acme Archives booth meeting fans and signing his work. The "X-Files Season One, Set 1" artwork also is available at the Acme Archives website.
“It’s amazing to connect with fans of your work,” Lendl said. “I really didn’t know what the response would be and it was very positive.”
Lendl is now working with Acme to prepare the next series. In October 2016, the National Museum of Health and Medicine will feature his work in the exhibit, Medical Museum Science Café: The Hard Science of the “X-Files.” The exhibit was initiated by Dr. Anne Simon, a University of Maryland virologist and science advisor to the television series.
In addition to his artwork, Lendl works fulltime as the teen specialist at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Beechview branch. He oversees all teen programming, including a “maker space” where students determine what they learn, from robotics to photography.
And, he said, his success in both careers has roots in his experience at W&J.
“When you’re at W&J, the school creates an environment where you get trained on how to multitask. Those skills were really important when I took on this project,” Lendl said. “In the theatre department when we were putting together shows, we’d rehearse and rehearse until we got it right. We tried things to see what worked. It’s an art and it’s a matter of keeping at it until you get to a place where you’re happy with your work.”
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.
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