Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with horror artist Chris Kuchta

As promised, here's my interview with Chris Kuchta, the artist behind that incredible The Thing shirt Son of Celluloid is giving away. You know, the one you all entered to win. What? What do you mean you haven't entered yet? What the hell is wrong with you? Go HERE and enter NOW, then come back and read the interview. We'll wait...OK. Are you entered? Good, then let's proceed.

SOC: What came first, your love of horror or your love of art?

CK: With me, those loves came at the same time. I think, as a kid as well as now, painting and drawing is my way of offering a unique perspective to art and horror. Art came as a reaction to what I seen as a child. Comics and horror movies.

SOC:You’ve said in interviews that your influences were horror mags like Creepy and Famous Monsters of Filmland, comic books, horror movies, and, interestingly, weird roadside attractions. I’m a huge fan of roadside kitsch attractions and tourist traps. Can you explain how places like that inspire you?

CK: I think that there is nothing more American than the sideshow. Roadside kitsch is another form of that. When I was a kid I was lucky enough to have grandparents who would take me on these month long cross country road trips in the summer. I think that I hit every used bookshop, museum, flea market and roadside attraction in the lower 48 during the 1980s. Somehow the lowbrow art aspect and weird kitsch nostalgia of it all played a part in my later years when picking my aesthetic path in art. It’s all about the ballyhoo and sell of a two headed calf or the Minnesota Iceman. That will permanently change your artistic path!

SOC: What was the first horror character you saw that made you say, “I want to paint that?”

CK: Frankenstein. No doubt. My grandmother bought me the Frankenstein illustrated by Berni Wrightson and I was hooked. I had to have a go at that.

SOC: Your color work is very sumptuous and saturated, but you also do a lot of sepia toned pieces. How do you approach these pieces differently?

CK: Only when looking at the subject matter. Some of the sepia toned pieces are exactly as I remember them.

SOC: One thing I love about your painting is that all of your pieces have a real sense of texture. Do you achieve that mainly through the colors, the visible brush strokes, or other techniques?

CK: When I went to art school in Chicago at American Academy I was trained to paint Alla Prima. Just paint, no pencil drawing underneath. It’s a very honest way of painting. So you find the shapes based upon their value then paint up in value and intensity. Brush strokes are a way that the artist can convey himself through the subject matter so in my humble opinion you should leave them in. Why not? What would be left if you grind it all away?

SOC: You paint a lot of the more iconic characters from throughout horror history. There hasn’t been whole lot of iconic characters created since the 80’s slasher boom. What characters from the last 20 years ago would you classify as icons?

CK: Jigsaw. Chromeskull is having quite a run. They have made a shitload of Wrong Turn movies too, so it seems mutant cannibal retards are iconic. But anyone would know that that comes from the 80s!

SOC: What’s your favorite reaction you’ve ever gotten from a horror star to a painting you’ve done of them?

CK: My hands down favorite was Clive Barker. We talked a lot, and as an artist himself, really got on about painting. It was really great meeting him. He came back to my booth and talked with me and the wife. A terrific person.

SOC: Probably my favorite piece of yours is the Masque of the Red Death Vincent Price portrait. You actually have a few paintings of Vincent Price, who is my all time favorite actor. Have you ever gotten the chance to show them to any members of his family?

CK: Not yet unfortunately. Maybe soon...

SOC: Is there a film or character that you’d love to paint but you either haven’t gotten around to yet or can’t get a handle on how to approach?

CK: There are a ton I want to do but haven't gotten around to yet. Working on an Alien and trying to incorporate a Giger bio-mechanical style into my style is one im’ working on now.

SOC: In the film making world, filmmakers who make horror often aren’t taken as seriously as those in other genres. Does the same bias exist in the art world?

CK: The macabre if off putting. If you embrace the macabre you accept the consequences. That’s what horror movies teach us!

SOC: Tell us about Psycho Street and how got involved as the poster artist.

CK: Me and Marv Blauvelt were at our first show together, set up right next to each other. We talked about a lot of stuff and over the years knew that we had a common love for all things Hammer Horror and old movie posters. When Psycho Street came along he wanted a classical horror painting that looked authentic, and knew just the guy to call!

SOC: You do creature and concept designs for film. Can you tell us about any projects coming up where we’ll get to see your work translated onscreen?

CK: I can’t talk pre production projects, but as far as movie monster design goes and future work, one project that I would love to work on is a werewolf movie that Marv is trying to get together. I’d love to do the design on that one as well as the poster.

SOC: Every horror fan has the idea for their great horror film opus tucked in the back of their mind somewhere. What’s yours?

CK: We truly don't have enough space for this but one that I would love to do is a classical monster mash picture. All lit like the color in my paintings!

SOC: We’re giving away a T-shirt featuring your The Thing artwork. Can you tell us a little bit about that particular piece?

CK: Easily one of the finest horror movies of all time. That piece was fun and challenging to do. Showed it to John Carpenter and he really thought that I captured the likeness of Kurt Russell.

SOC: Any last words?

CK: Hell yes! Everyone reading this and liking it needs to check out my work at http://www.horrorartist.com/ and friend me on Facebook and buy my shitty paintings so I can continue to make more shitty paintings! And support horror movies by watching horror movies so that better horror movies will be made! DO ALL THESE THINGS NOW!!!!! "You may now return to your regularly scheduled program..."

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