Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview with Chad Savage - Dark Artist


I "met" Chad several years ago on an online Halloween mailing list (Halloween-L) and have been a fan of his artwork ever since. His creepy and whimsical creations epitomize Halloween and bring the emotions the holiday evokes to life. Chad was kind enough to grant me an interview to talk about his art and Halloween.

Question:  How did you get started as an artist? Did you always draw or was it something you came to later in life?

Answer: I've been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. My father and grandfather were excellent artists and draftsmen in their own rights, so it's genetic. There was never any doubt that I would be an artist/designer of some sort for a living - it was too much a part of who I was growing up. I always had a sketchpad and a box of pencils and pens. In high school I started designing logos by hand for non-existent products, just because I liked doing it…

Question: Did you go to art school?

Answer: Yes - I graduated with a BFA in Illustration & Graphic Design from the University of North Texas in 1991.

Question:  Do you have a "style" and can you define it? How did it come about?

Answer: That's a really hard question for an artist to answer about himself. I mean, my work definitely has a certain look and style to it, but I have no idea how to define it. It's just the natural evolution of 40 years of drawing and painting combined with my particular proclivities and personality traits, I guess? I paint the way I do because I don't know how else to do it.

Question: What is your preferred medium?

Answer: Watercolor.

Question: How did your love of Halloween develop? And, how does it relate/pertain to your Art? Did one influence the other?

Answer: I've loved Halloween since I was old enough to understand what it was. For that matter, I've loved monsters and spooky things since Day One. As a kid, I was never as comfortable as I was during October - the weather, the decorations, the celebrations, the spookiness, the feeling - always felt right to me, like no other time of the year. There's no accounting for it; it certainly wasn't something I was taught and it wasn't encouraged. It's just the way I've always been wired.

My artwork reflects the things that interest me, so it's only natural that a lot of it is Halloween-related.

Question: What is your favorite Halloween/Horror subject to create?

Answer: I never get tired of painting jack o' lanterns & scarecrows!

Question: Did any particular artist influence you? And/or can you name some of your favorite artists?

Answer: H. R. Giger and Ralph Steadman made a HUGE impact on me at a pretty early age - I was horrified and awestruck, and couldn't get their images out of my head. Marshall Arisman's illustrations in the '80's were ferocious and arresting, and led me to discover Francis Bacon. Illustrator Mel Odom and fantasy artist Michael Parkes taught me the importance of finesse and detail, and that imagination is key. Then I discovered Clive Barker's artwork and the photography of Joel-Peter Witkin and, again - HUGE affect on my approach to art. They're all still among my favorites, as well as Joseph Larkin, Chet Zar, Brom, Alan M. Clark, Eric Pigors, Michael Whelan, Basil Gogos, Gary Pullin, Gustave Dore, Brian Demski, Stephen Gammell, PumpkinRot.com (some day I'll find out that guy's actual name…) and a few dozen others.

Question: Is there a favorite piece that you've done or has special meaning to you?

Answer: Yes and no. I've done paintings about nightmares I've had, painful times in my life, happy times in my life… it's all subtext and symbology, though. Nobody'd really know what any of it means except me. They're all very important to me while I'm working on them and for a short time after, but then I'm on to the next idea… the only pieces I won't sell are the ones my wife decides we can't part with - I figure I can always paint another one!

Question: Why Halloween Art? Why does it appeal to you? Why do you think it appeals to others?

Answer: See my answer to question #5. As to why it appeals to others, I think Halloween is a powerfully nostalgiac thing for my generation. For a lot of us, it's one of the only things from our childhoods that hasn't lost its magic. Halloween is magic, and it doesn't stop being magic when you become an adult. That's immensely appealing.

Question: What do you think of the growth in the last 5 or so years of Halloween Art? What do you think contributed to it?

Answer: I honestly have no idea. If I had to guess, I'd say that the interest has always been there - it just took awhile for the right artists to find the right audience. Shows like Halloween & Vine in Hollywood, the Halloween Art Exhibit in Chicago and others have been going on for over a decade, so it's not just the last 5 years, really. I think the internet has helped enormously, of course - it's never been easier to showcase your work, and there are dozens of art/craft collectives out there now.

I'd also guess that the larger artistic culture has shifted significantly in the last decade or so. With the rise in the popularity and acceptability of street art, low brow art, outsider art, primitive art, etc., it's become easier for artists to create work about whatever they love and have it be well-received in the art world.

Finally, because my generation was unwilling to let Halloween go, it went from being a kid's holiday to an adult's holiday, which means that the imagery and ideas associated with it became acceptable fodder for expression - look at what Martha Stewart's done with Halloween and Autumn over the last decade, by way of example.

Question: And since this is a book blog, can you tell me a few of your favorite Halloween/Horror books?

Answer: Halloween books: Halloween Nation by Lesley Bannatyne, Harvest Hill (a collection of short stories from Graveside Tales Publishing), Ghost Walk by Brian Keene, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, October Dreams (a collection of short stories & essay from Cemetery Dance Publications)

Horror books: The Shining by Stephen King, The Hellbound Heart and The Books of Blood by Clive Barker, Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite, Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Skin by Kathe Koja, The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan, I Am Legend & Hell House by Richard Matheson, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson… I could go on for paragraphs. :)

Chad Savage was a dark artist from the moment his pudgy little hands were able to set crayon to paper. He was the kid that loved Halloween better than Christmas, rooted for Godzilla and Dracula, and really worried his Southern Baptist parents. It was very clear early on that Chad wanted to celebrate Halloween 365 days a year.

With a degree in illustration and graphic design, 20 years' experience drawing and designing for the horror genre and over 15 years' experience in web design, Chad got his wish. Halloween, for him, is every day. His company Sinister Visions inc. is thriving, providing web design, print design, illustration, sound design, font design and more for the horror, Halloween and haunted attraction industries. Sinister Visions currently hosts/manages close to 200 dark websites; odds are you've already been to at least 10 of them.

Chad's artwork has appeared in (and on the cover of) numerous books and magazines and garnered awards from same. His original fonts have appeared on books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, TV shows and in movies. Besides running genre sites like DarkChicago.com and ZombiePinups.com, he is the Art Director and Lead Designer for Zombie Army Productions, Chicago's Flashback Weekend horror convention, HAuNTcon, the World Horror Convention (2006), and proudly sponsors numerous dark genre events and projects.

Chad has instituted/managed dark art exhibitions for a number of conventions over the last decade like HorrorFind Weekend, Flashback Weekend, the World Horror Convention and CONvergence. He remains an active participant and proponent in the dark art community.

Chad currently lives and works outside of Chicago (OK, in Indiana) with his fabulous (and tolerant) wife Alex, lovely daughters and their fairy dogmothers.

For more information and samples of his work, you can start with Sinister Visions and ChadSavage.com.


CONTEST:
~I will be giving away one (1) signed and numbered 8 x 10 art print from The Dark Art of Chad Savage.  Check out his products page HERE.   (Scroll down to see the numerous and gorgeous art prints.) Please note this is for an art print not an original.

TO ENTER:
~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a comment below about anything from this interview.
~Extra entries are optional. 

RULES:
~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on October 20, 2012 at 12:01am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck and thanks for entering.


2 comments:

The Frog Queen said...

Thanks, that was a great interview. Love Chad's work and it was great to get some insight! And how can I not like a fellow Clive Barker fan.

Cheers!

iluvhallow33n said...

Great interview. Chad's work is awesome both in watercolor and digital. Would love to be able to showcase a print of his work with my collection.

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