Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Best Horror Art

The first step you need to take to become a real artist is to stop “aspiring to be.” Whenever I come across a student, for example, who tells me that they are an aspiring writer, I ask, “Do you write?” If they say yes, then I tell them to drop the “aspiring.” You are, in fact, a writer.

I wrote the draft of my first horror novel, Rabbit in Red, on a crappy laptop with no inspiration but my imagination. I thought of the advice I gave students, and I decided, as I was revising the novel and seeking publishers, that I needed to treat myself like a real writer. I deserved the rewards I wanted.

I always imagined, if I were to be successful, that I’d have this great office complete with horror collectibles and art to inspire me. I simply decided that I wasn’t going to wait. I was going to treat myself to the kind of inspiration I always wanted, publishing contract or no. 

Some of Lee's horror art. This is what hangs in my office.

That’s when I discovered the amazingly talented artist, Lee Howard. Lee’s art covers one side of my office wall, and I will certainly add more. Lee’s art looked over me as I finalized my horror story and earned a publishing contract. Sometimes you need a little inspiration, and today I want to talk to you about Lee’s work. In short, it’s some of the best horror art I’ve seen. It’s affordable, fun, and sure to be a hit in your home or office. If you’re a horror fan like me, you’ll fall in love with his work immediately. But he does more than horror. He has all sorts of pop culture art!

Like me, Lee has been a horror fan since he was a child. I interviewed him for this article, and he told me that when he was ten years old, he saw A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, and it was “love at first sight of blood.” Since then he’s consumed all things horror, and he’s had quite a few success stories! 

This past year, his art was featured in the monthly horror mystery subscription box Horror Block

Every subscriber received a gorgeous canvas of Pinhead, and it was such a huge success that the company (Nerd Block, which has several blocks: Horror Block and Arcade Block are two) acquired another original piece for the launch of their brand new block, the Sci-Fi Block! It’s a top-secret piece, too, as Howard wouldn’t tell me what it is (hey- it is a mystery box, after all!). 

I asked Lee what his favorite piece is, and he told me that he had a couple, but that they are usually paintings that represent “evolutionary leaps” in his art. I’ll post some of his favorites below!

Janet Leigh, Psycho, one of Lee's favorites

Keifer Sutherland from The Lost Boys, another favorite
Jack Nicholson's Joker

Lee Howard's Catwoman

Of all of his art, his bestsellers are the movie icon paintings, which have 15 in the series as of the time of this post. He also has popular mugs, on one of which he’s posted a comic-book style art of six horror icons with blood splattered on the handle that is constantly selling out. (I know what I need to take to work now for my morning coffee!)

I have to get this mug!

Lee has quite a following for his Quiet Room Bears collection, too. This idea started with a Halloween party his family hosted. It was a Rosemary’s Baby themed party, and there was a contest where each guest had to bring the demonic baby a gift. Lee thought that every Satan child deserves the most hideous of teddy bears, and they were a huge hit! He sold a few on eBay, and they gained popularity quite quickly. The name is derived from the quiet room in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3, another of Lee’s favorite films. Now the bears all have session numbers (instead of names) that connects to the quiet room institution.

Lee told me, “the inmates have their 'sessions' inside the Quiet Room and are placed inside there with teddy bears, knives, string and things like that, and at the request of the room itself, they literally put pieces of themselves, as well as their madness, into each Bear. When the bears get to into the world, people seek them out, not knowing why, and when they get one, it slowly drives them mad, turning their lives into a nightmare.” I’m not creeped at all. Really. (What was that noise?)

What also jumped out to me about Lee was that he uses his art for good (see advice for artists below). Most recently, he’s donated art to a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary. The documentary is titled Scream Queen, My Nightmare on Elm Street. Lee’s friend Mark Patton, who played Jesse in Nightmare 2, is making the documentary. It’s Mark’s story about building an acting career in Hollywood in the 80s as a gay man. It also explores the deeper subculture of gay Hollywood in the 80s and how the backlash of the film affected Mark's life. Lee is making cover art for the film, and he also donated a cool piece with Freddy’s glove holding up a bloody tiara. The film is looking for donations, and even $5 helps. Check out the Kickstarter campaign and learn more about that documentary here

Some other fun facts about Lee:

Favorite horror films: The first three A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, The Shining, Universal monster movies, Pontypool, The Exorcist, Session 9

Advice for other artists: “Never stop creating!” Lee advises artists to post their work constantly on social media for exposure, and to know that success is extremely hard. But Lee makes art on the good days and the bad. He never stops creating. Perhaps one of my favorite things he said to me: “Art has literally saved my life a couple times, so it's incredibly important and powerful, so make sure and use it for the forces of good haha.”

Animals: Lee has a cat named Bruce Wayne.

First job: Taco Bell

Secret Identity: He told me he’s actually Batman. 

Visit Lee’s store here! Lee has a new painting series releasing soon as well as a monthly release of his Quiet Room Bears, so don't miss out.

Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, too!

From this author to all of you: whether you’re a horror or pop culture fan or an “aspiring” artist, it’s okay to reward yourself! Go get some of Lee’s art. Get your friends’ children a nice Quiet Room Bear for their birthdays. I think that would be sweet.

Learn more about Joe Chianakas and his book, Rabbit in Red, here. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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