Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Artist Kevin Spencer

"I loved Kevin's style from the moment I saw it. It expressed the horror and comedy found in my own work."

When a fellow like Todd Farmer, whose credits include writing 'Jason X', 'The Messengers', 'My Bloody Valentine 3D' and 'Drive Angry', takes a minute to admire your work, you're doing something right.

Meet Kevin Spencer, a passionate horror fan and advocate of the arts whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the last year or so.

With a blog that is about as awesome as they come, including a store where you can purchase Kevin Spencer original prints (www.inkspatters.com ), Kevin is really starting to carve a kick ass niche in the world of horror art. His pencil sketches and paintings are just as fantastic. I highly recommend checking this guy out before the bandwagon gets too full. Because, no doubt, it will. Then you'll be the guy or gal asking people "hey, have you ever heard of this artist Kevin Spencer?" and they'll be like "dude/chick, are you serious? Welcome to five months ago.." ... and that's just embarassing for everyone involved.
You can also check him out on Facebook- check out 'The Art of Kevin Spencer'.

Whether it be chatting about his origins as an artist, discussing just how shitty of an idea the new trilogy of 'Star Wars' is, or venting a little about our Philadelphia Eagles, Kevin was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule that includes working and doting on his beloved son to chat with me.

1. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess you've always been into art. Was there anything or anyone in particular that reeled you into the world of drawing?

Good question. I honestly don't know in terms of what got me started... My earliest memories include drawing and it's always kind of been what I have been known for, as that kid who draws. I did have an art teacher in elementary school that recognized my talent and love of art and she really helped harvest my passion and get me on the right track in terms of the advanced programs, which I continued to take through high school and then transitioned into art school. I really owe her a lot. Even in the many years since then. Last year we actually got back in touch and she had me come speak to her students at the middle school where she still teaches art. That was humbling and awesome.

2. Your artwork is truly amazing. From your comic book looking pieces to the awesome nun picture on your blog to your pencil sketches and everything in between. What inspires you as an artist?

Thanks for the kind words, I can feel my ego expanding. Great question. To be honest, everything inspires me... and yet sometimes nothing as well. Sometimes I get done something and look at it and go "where the hell did that come from? What's wrong with me?" The Nun was actually based on a photo I found online one day... I found the image very compelling and decided to add the tear. It as meant to be a commentary on the Catholic Church and the scandals they've been involved with.  I do a lot of movie art, specifically Horror inspired... well, pretty much because it's what I enjoy. My styles vary a lot depending on my mood so I tend to just roll with how I am feeling. Sometimes it's pencil drawings of my son and sometimes it's people with their flesh torn off. That said, I am  Bi-Polar, so I guess that explains my randomness. This made it hard to settle into a certain "style" as an artist but I think I am where I want to be... for now.

3. What kind of kid were you? (Quiet, a spaz, a nerd?) Were your parents supportive of your creativity growing up?

 I was a clown. Anything for a laugh. My Dad is the same way and I certainly inherited that from him. At the same time I was also emotionally troubled. I didn't particularly do well in school... I would draw. All the time. My best stuff to date was done in my Math notebook in middle school (laughs), much to the chagrin of my Math teachers I am sure. I was odd in that I never fit into a certain group - I was artistic and into music  and comic books but also loved sports. I guess I was a nice enough kid for the most part because I kind of mingled with everybody without any problems. I am sure if you asked people I knew back then they'd probably say "funny but weird". Seems about right.

4. You also have experience doing work in film. Care to elaborate?

 Well, I went to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia for Animation, so I ended up taking a lot of film classes. One of my close friends was a really talented film maker and recruited me to help out with his senior film so I jumped on board and helped with lighting and that got me hooked. I had always been a fan of Film Noir, which is obviously all about lighting. I mean, you can tell from most of the stuff I draw that there's heavy influence there from Noir. That said, after helping out my friend on his film I did a few more with other people but it never evolved into anything more, unfortunately. I have a couple script ideas but with the illustration stuff going well I haven't really put much time into the few ideas I do have. Maybe one day.

5. As a fellow horror fanatic, what are some of your favorite horror flicks?

 I knew this question was coming and yet it doesn't help me try to pinpoint favorites - there are so many. Well, I have to say all the classics: Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on
Elm Street
... the classic lineup. I am a huge Hitchcock fan as well. Jaws freaked me out as a kid, as did the Exorcist and the Omen. 30 Days of Night, as I was a huge fan of teh comic book series by Steve Niles (which the movie was based off of). One of the recent ones that I saw that I love is House of the Devil, which I loved. Also, this little movie Inside had some super creepy scenes and a pretty cool story. Honestly I love all horror, the good, the bad and the laughably terrible.

6. You are also a huge Star Wars fan. In your opinion, what's the worst mistake of the "new" trilogy?

Besides the fact that they were made? I don't know. I can honestly say other than seeing Yoda kick ass, which fulfilled many childhood fantasies including mine, there weren't many redeeming qualities for me. I dug Darth Maul but they killed him off. Yet they kept Jar Jar alive. Go figure. I wish they'd pretended that they films were being made in the 70's and 80's. I wish they had all costumes not CGI. I think the CGI, for me, took away a lot from the films. It was just overdone. I think with handling something as sacred as Star Wars, it deserved a little more consideration but when you watch the recent films you get the feeling Lucas said "It's mine, I can do whatever I want with it." That said, I would probably be equally possessive had I ever made something so epic.

B. Your horror hero, Pinhead, would probably have a blast disposing of Jar Jar..haha.. 

No pain that Hell would inflict on Jar Jar would come close to the pain Jar Jar inflicted on film-goers worldwide.

7. Batman is another favorite of yours. What is your most and least favorite film in the entire catalogue?

My favorite is the 1989 Tim Burton version for several reasons. First, it was so dark and had such a sinister feel, much like a lot of Burton's other works. Two, I am a huge Burton fan. Third, it was one of the earlier movies that I saw as a kid and it was intense. Blew me away. Scary and exciting and intense. It will always stand out as one of my favorite films. The newer ones are awesome but the nostalgia of the Burton version cannot be replaced for me.

8. How did you and Todd Farmer get accquainted? Can you tell us about any projects you have done or may be doing for/with him?

Well, we got acquainted by accident, really. I drew a character from one of his films (My Bloody Valentine 3D) and I think either I mentioned him in a Tweet about it or on my Blog and he saw it and commented back that he liked it. I said if he wanted he could have the original and he did so I sent it to him along with a few other sketches inspired by his film. From there he asked me to draw a little piece for him to have available at Comic Con since all he had was headshots and whatnot so I did a piece of him being killed some of the movies he's written and appeared in (My Bloody Valentine 3D, Jason X and Drive Angry). It went well and from there we've talked about him writing and me illustrating something... more to come soon, with any luck.

9. As a Pinhead enthusiast, have you seen the most recent one, 'Hellraiser: Revelations'?

No. I mean, I've sat through the terrible latter ones but Revelations was a bit much, especially when I learned the circumstances of it being made simply to retain the rights to the name. Also, no Doug Bradley as Pinhead is blasphemy. From what I've heard I am not missing much.

10. The pic you did for my Justin Hamelin's Horror page is totally B.A. .. most people I show it to says it looks like Jesus. Let me just clarify I in no way claim to emulate Jesus. I have never even played Him on TV... how long does a piece usually take you, from start to finish?

Wait, you're not Jesus? Here I thought doing this interview would get me off the hook for...well, nevermind. People ask me all the time how long stuff takes. It varies. It depends on how clearly I see something in my head and more importantly how well I am able to get it out of my head onto paper. Sometimes it comes naturally and sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Sadly, the brain has no print function... yet. If they ever find a way you can bet I'll be first in line to buy it. Your logo came on a good day when things were just working out, so I would say from the sketch to the ink, to the scan and color only took about 20 minutes. Painting is a whole other story, though. I am a slow painter. Probably why I don't do it much. An average painting, as infrequently as I make them, is usually more than 20 hours total, because I am a lot more picky when I paint and a medium that required drying time allows more time to second-guess.

11. Who are some of your favorite artists?

I love Tim Burton's sketches - They are so simple yet detailed. I also love Duncan Fegredo (comic artist) and Bernie Wrightson (comic artist). As a kid I was obsessed with comic books and still read them a lot. I think many of the most talented artists are working in comics. Another favorite is Basil Gogos, who I consider to be THE MAN when it comes to horror art. His Universal Monster work are some of the most influential pieces of art from my youth.

12. If you could chat with one horror icon, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

 That's an easy one. Vincent Price. Why him? He's Vincent Price, that's why! He's been in everything and knew everyone and from what I've heard there wasn't a nicer man alive.

13. As a fellow Philadelphia Eagles fan, what the hell is going on this season?!?!

 They are learning that talented players do not always make a talented team. Chemistry is a heavily underrated component of the game. They're starting to play better now but I think it may be too late for this year.

14. What projects are you currently kicking ass on?

 I am currently working on some artwork for a great podcast called Forgotten Flix (www.forgottenflix.com). The hosts, Joel and Jason talk about movies, some classics and some more obscure but all of them are most likely films you'll know. It's an awesome Podcast and I suggest everyone check it out. I am currently doing art for the banner on each of their weekly Podcasts and we are in the process of developing a few other surprises.

Besides that, I am always up to something. I have two graphic novels that I am playing with right now in terms of concept and deciding if I want to both write and illustrate or just illustrate and have someone else write. One is a really detailed, long story with a lot of depth and the other is more straightforward, involving ghosts and demons and such... naturally.


15. Any last minute shout-outs you'd like to blurt out?

 Obviously I want to thank my wife Angela, who supports me 110%, my son Dylan who keeps it all in perspective and two art teachers who really helped guide me when I needed it most, Donna and Doc. Lastly, thanks for all the support from friends and family, it means more than any of you know.

I'd like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Spencer for his time and awesome anecdotes. You are forever considering a true friend.

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