Welcome to ArtSexy! Hope to make this a regular column where we cover an artist that really tap into the horror vein. ArtSexy is profile some of the artist’s morbidly beautiful artwork and will give us a chance to get to know more about the creators in the horror art community. In our inaugural post, I was lucky enough to interview Kevin Spencer. Kevin came onto my radar after he designed the logo for the ScreamCast podcast. After following him for a while on Twitter, I found that beside being a kick ass artist, he was a helluva nice guy. Hope that you enjoy getting to know more about Kevin.
What gave you the horror bug, what are a few of the things that turned you into the horror nut you are?
Well, as a kid I wasn’t really allowed to watch too much horror at home but I did have a lot of friends who were into horror so I got really into The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Crypt. At the time there was also a popular book series out called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which I was really into. It had good stories but even more compelling was the art (by Stephen Gammell), which was just simply haunting. It was probably the first artistic influence that I can recall.
As a young teen I started to get into Clive Barker, both as an artist and author, as well as Stephen King, which lead to me seeing films like Hellraiser, It and Pet Semetery. From there it kind of just took on a life of it’s own and I’ve been obsessed with horror ever since. I got into a lot of trouble and was somewhat misunderstood as a kid… and so horror was always my escape. My “Island of Misfit Toys” , so to speak. It still is. I find an incredible amount of comfort in horror that anyone who loves horror understands and anyone who isn’t won’t understand at all.
Lastly, music. I was always into heavy metal, with my favorite band being Iron Maiden, so naturally, you have a hugely illustrative influence there with the gorgeous work of Derek Riggs. I was also into bands like Judas Priest, Slayer, and Metallica from a young age, back when album covers actually included some thought and usually some kick ass art. So that was a huge influence as well.
What art media do you prefer to work in?
Pen and Ink are personal favorites. Growing up drawing in my Math and Science notebooks with ballpoint pens no doubt had a heavy influence on that preference. I also do a lot with Acrylic paints… I don’t dabble in oils a whole lot as they take a long time to dry and I am too finicky with my work… I need the paint to dry so I can’t mess with it beyond a certain point. I’ve ruined more paintings in oil messing around with them while they dry than I care to remember.
What artists influenced your style?
Well, you have the classics – DaVinci and Dali being my personal favorites.
Onto more recent influences, I was always fascinated by the detail of artists like H.R. Giger and Bernie Wrightson. Currently I am fortunate to be surrounded by extremely talented artists… and find myself most inspired by people whose styles are nothing like mine. A few (or more than a few I guess) of my favorites are Chris Garofalo, Aaron Crawford, Menton Matthews, David Stoupakis, Gary Pullin, Godmachine, Skinner and Francesco Francavilla. If you Google them you’ll see what a broad spectrum they cover – From super technical gorgeous design work to looser, much more vivid and spontaneous stuff.
Depends on the mood and day and weather (laughs). I dunno. Honestly it varies from day to day and project to project. Usually I guess I work with no background noise at all. Not for any other reason than I don’t think of it I guess. Sometimes movie soundtracks, sometimes some music. Once in a while an old movie, but it has to be something I have seen a million times (like Shaun of the Dead) so I don’t have to look at the screen to follow. If I am working on a long project I will sometimes make a playlist of music that fits the mood of what I am working on. That’s a tip I received from a friend of mine several years ago that’s really stuck with me and helped me avoid the dreaded “artist block”, where you get stuck in a creative rut. Having “themed” music helps tremendously in keeping focused on the task at hand.
Is your studio all settled after your recent move?
Yes and no. I am incredibly OCD and detail oriented so although everything is unpacked I am never really “settled”. All my books are on shelves and my movie collection is unpacked but in no way completely where I want them all. I’ll be organizing, alphabetizing and moving things forever… It’s kind of how I de-stress. Not yoga for this guy – micro-organizing is my Zen.
Do you have a fave non horror project you’ve worked on?
I actually do a lot of non horror commissions… Mostly realistic portraits of people’s children or parents, for gifts. Those are always fun. Also, for a bit over a year I was working with the Forgotten Flix Podcast doing weekly and bi-weekly show art. They did horror around Halloween but most of the year it was non-horror films. I really enjoyed working with those guys (hosts Joel and Jason). All of those things are enjoyable. I am very lucky to be able to say that it is very rare that I get asked to do something that I don’t look forward to – People seem to always come to me with great ideas and I greatly appreciate that.
I have a website Ink Spatters and also a Facebook page The Art of Kevin Spencer… My main website has links to all my Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and such so that’s a good place to start. Or the Facebook page.
I’ll also be at Monster Mania Horror Convention from March 13-15 in Cherry Hill, NJ and in August as well. Hopefully I’ll flesh out a little more of a convention schedule as the year progresses but with the move back to NJ from NC and the general vagueness of the timing of that I hadn’t planned a ton for 2015 in case plans fell through. Thankfully they didn’t and we are back so I want to add at least another few conventions if possible. Keep an eye on my website for more information as I figure stuff out.
How can people request commissioned work?
My main site Ink Spatters has a “Contact” form and people can always reach out through Facebook as well. If people plan on going to Monster Mania in March you can also reach out about commissions which I will happily bring along and give to you at the Convention… That’s kind of a popular option for some of the folks I see regularly at MM.
Thanks a lot for having me, Derek, I really appreciate it and had a lot of fun with the interview.