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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Visceral Visionaries: G. Edwin Taylor

An accomplished Chicago-area artist, G. Edwin Taylor is someone I've been seeking to profile in Visceral Visionaries for some time now, and it's an honor and a pleasure to showcase him and his work today. Taylor has done it all, from comic books to collectible fine art to film storyboarding to magazine covers, and more. He is a painter and illustrator of unique vision, whose work has the power to intrigue, arouse and terrify...

You talk about your work as a study of the psychology of fear. What do you mean by that?

A lot of my work leans towards the phobias of others. Spiders, Nazis, amputees and clowns have been themes of my art at one point or another. Things that really scare the shit out of some people just put a smile on my face. I get a rush knowing that something that I’ve created is possibly giving someone nightmares. People are too comfortable in this age of a politically correct society. I like knowing that I can shake people up a bit.
There’s a fantastic quote from the original version of Inherit the Wind where Gene Kelly’s character E.K. Hornbeck (inspired by the great journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken) says: “…it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." I feel that an artist should do the same. To me, safe is boring. Life is not safe. It’s dangerous and mysterious and because of that, life is never boring. I like reminding people of that. In a sense, I’m making people feel alive, probably some for the first time in their life.

Talk about what you mean by describing your work as having the power to alter the viewer's perception of reality. Can you give some examples?
My earlier work was heavily inspired by the German Expressionists and the German Schauerfilmen, specifically The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu, as well as Anton LaVey’s Law of the Trapezoid. I used a lot of angles which caused anger and even rage in certain viewers. One piece that I drew back then even caused vertigo in some of the people who looked at it. Recently, my style has changed. The geometrical backgrounds are no longer present, but if one studies my paintings long enough, they’ll notice the angles are still there. The angles are now much more subtle, but still there.

How much of an influence has Lovecraft had on your work, and how would you describe that influence?
I can go on and on about H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve been an avid reader of his since I was 15. He had a profound influence on my work for the longest time, which is readily apparent in my earlier art. I was intrigued with the idea of Cosmic Horror. Lately though, another writer who was a member of the original Lovecraft Circle has had more influence. My work has turned more towards fantasy recently because of Robert E. Howard. Eroticism is also slowly creeping into my current work and everything is taking on a fantasy, sci-fi, horror pin-up quality. This is going to be an extremely interesting path that I’m undertaking.

Aside from H.P., who are some of your other major influences, particularly from an art standpoint?
Some of my major influences are Clive Barker, Anton LaVey, 1950’s sci-fi and horror films and pin-ups. From an artistic standpoint, my major influences are Caravaggio, Francis Bacon and Ivan Albright. The Italian Master Artist Caravaggio has influenced me through his use of light and shadow. I feel that one needs to study the Old Masters and their techniques in order to grow as an artist.
Francis Bacon is a chosen influence due to his use of atmosphere in his paintings. You can’t help but think you’re staring into a nightmare when you’re viewing his works.
Ivan Albright is the last main artist who influences my style. He is probably best known for his painting of Dorian Gray in the film The Picture of Dorian Gray. While I am not heavily influenced by his painting style, I am influenced by the way he titled his paintings. He felt that the title of a painting should be a narrative and add to the painting as a whole. He once said, "I get tired of titles like 'Young Girl' and 'Winding Path.' Mine are intended to illuminate the pictures. A painting should be a piece of philosophy--or why do it?"

Talk a bit about the work you've done in comic books.
I had a short-lived comic book years and years ago. My story was called “Funeral March” and was called “…One of the most original we’ve seen in decades…” by a major comic book magazine at the time.
My story was one half of a comic called “Shadows”. Due to distribution problems, it ended up being released only in Chicago at the time, and sold pretty well. After months and months of prep work and a whole bunch of sleepless nights, a lot of red tape showed up in my path and prevented me from going any further. It was a shame too, because my story was to become its own series. While I am no longer in comics, that story is still itching to be told in its entirety. It may show up as a series of illustrated short stories. I don’t want to really talk too much about the characters and the storyline (even though all of that is copyrighted just like the rest of my art) because I want it to be fresh for new readers and followers. I will tell this, though: The main character and hero of the story is a Satanist. Not a devil worshiper mind you, but a true Satanist as defined in The Satanic Bible.

I also see you've done some work on storyboards for films. What did this entail?
I ended up getting the storyboarding gig because the producer remembered my comic book and knew that I could pull it off. The feature length film was Present Perfect (from KGB Productions) and was called an un-romantic comedy. I put in hours upon hours drawing each shot. Since I didn’t know how to actually storyboard a film, I ended up studying several books and basically gave myself a crash course beforehand. After that, I did storyboards for several short films. Once in a great while I still get asked to do them, but I inevitably turn them down. I had a lot of fun doing them at the time, but now my passion for it is lacking. This isn’t to say that if I was handed a great script that I’d say no. There is always the possibility that my passion can be re-ignited.

Tell me about being the cover artist for Ghost Magazine.
Sonny B., the publisher of The Ghost (which is a Satanic publication out of Canada), had been a fan of my work for a while. He asked me to do a cover for that fantastic magazine and even asked me to re-design the logo. I was then asked to do the cover to the following issue, and even had a drunken tag team interview with Smokey Deville that took up about 16 pages in that one. It was then that I was asked if I’d consider becoming the main cover artist for The Ghost. I felt honored to be asked, and of course I agreed.

What are some of the works of which you are the most proud?
Actually, I am proud of all of my work. There are a few personal favorites that I have. The main one is my Nazi Stripper Amputee piece titled “The Strumpet of Berlin” in which I explore Nazi and amputee fetishism. It’s a striking piece and a bit controversial. I made a video of the stages of that painting, and posted it on YouTube (Taylor9Art is the channel) and it started getting a steady amount of views. Next thing I knew, YouTube had pulled the plug on it before it became viral. They didn’t delete it or anything, but changed it to being possibly inappropriate for minors and even was exploring possible copyright violations. Several countries had blocked it as well. You know you’re doing something right when your work gets banned from a country.

What projects are you currently working on, or what can my readers look forward to from you in the future?
As of now, I’m currently working on building up my body of work, because I’ll be having a show at Horrorbles in the coming months. The date has not been set yet but readers can keep up to date by checking out the News section on my website: http://www.taylor9.com. I also have “meet and greets” at Film Festivals put on by Horror Society on occasion, because I love talking and meeting my fans and collectors.
Right now I’m planning more work on a series of fetish paintings, of which “The Strumpet of Berlin” is the first one, and yet another series that I’m keeping under wraps for the time being. As a side project, the lovely Miss BJ-C of Day of the Woman is posing for me for a very special (and very saucy) painting which may be offered as a Fine Art Print once it’s complete, and will be unveiled to the public at the Women of Horror 2 Film Festival in Chicago.

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