Monsters, pinup girls and danger! Those three subjects, emblazoned at the very top of Ric Frane's website say it all. One of the most exciting genre painters working today, his work--in the grand Frank Frazetta tradition--has been featured on comics, games, books and magazines such as Horror Biz. Focusing on the world of classic movie monsters, as well as fantasy erotica, Frane has worked with some of the most popular models in the genre today, and his work is praised by the likes of acclaimed pinup illustrator Olivia.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ric last month at the Chiller Theatre convention in New Jersey, and he agreed to take some time out to answer a few questions about his life, his work, and what inspires it...
You've been doing art since you were a kid. What first interested you?
I've been doing some kind of art as long as I can remember. People always responded well to what I was doing. My parents never discouraged me. They even found a local place for me to learn painting. Now this was only hobby painting, but I was using oils at a young age and it made me not afraid to try other mediums.
Tell me about your love for Frank Frazetta. What is it about his work that captured your imagination?
We just lost the greatest influence in my life as an artist. I found one of his art books when I was about 13. I never saw anything like it. I knew right then it was what I wanted to do. I tried to copy every one of his paintings. I would do one a night after school using pastels. I wound up giving them to friends at school. Wish I still had some of them. Wonder if they were any good?
The greatest thing about Frazetta's work was his ability to paint so much detail with an economy of brush strokes. There are many detailed plates in his books to view. You can see just how he did it. But no one else can seem to do it. I love his use of color, his exaggerated figures, his compositions, everything. He was a master and will be missed. There is not a genre artist out there that hasn't been influenced by him.
Are there possibilities allowed to fantasy and horror artists that might not be available in other conceptual genres?
Well there, used to be. A lot of cover work was available for novels. Fantasy books usually had artwork on the covers more so than other genres. There is also work in comics and gaming. But that has all slowed down now for everyone.
Tell me a bit about your formal training. What was that like?
I went to the Antonelli Institute of Art & Photography, formally the York Academy of Art.
I was lucky--I had a very good art teacher in high school. We were doing a lot of the drawing exercises I would later do in art school. Learning different painting techniques was the most important part. Learning how to use the paints the correct way and different mediums you can add. Not that you can't break the rules sometimes. But some things are done for a reason.
Your wife is an artist as well. What's that like, do you get competitive?
Not at all. We throw ideas at one another. My wife, Wendy, has been the muse for many pieces of work. We've even painted a few pieces together.
You've done lots of different paintings in various categories. Do you have a favorite subject matter? Favorite piece?
I started out doing fantasy illustrations, but my favorite part of the paintings was always the figure. I love painting the figure. I'm a fan of old school pin-ups. I also love painting classic monsters. One day it hit me. Why not paint both? Two great things that go together.
My favorite piece right now would have to be the one I did of my wife and myself [featured at top]. I did it in the style I do my Monster/Pinups pieces in. Me being the monster. Wendy is the hot model in the leopard bikini.
What draws you in about classic monster movies?
Nostalgia. The older I get, the more I long for those days as a kid watching TV with our local horror movie host, Dr. Shock. Everything a kid loves was in those movies. Monsters, castles, foggy woods. I don't think any of them ever scared me. It was all so foreign looking. They all took place somewhere else at another time.
What is it about Bride of Frankenstein that makes it your favorite?
So much is in it. The monster learns to speak, and you feel for him in this one more than any other movie. And one of the biggest horror icons is born, the Bride. She only has a couple of minutes of screen time, but look how popular her image is.
For your erotic/pin-up art you've worked with many models including Tiffany Shepis. What are the challenges of working with a live subject? Who've been your favorites?
I work from photographs, so I really don't have the problems with having models hold poses. I usually have a few ideas for artwork I want to do and we shoot those. The model's personality helps drive those ideas. I've been lucky that all the models I have worked with have been great.
I would say the biggest challenge is that first picture you take. Trying to get things started. Funny thing is I almost never use that first photo idea. Once things get going, it's artist and model working together to come up with the best image. Tiffany is great at this. I've known her for over 10 years and she is one of my faves. Her face is stunning and she knows how to pose. Another favorite of mine is Asia DeVinyl. A beautiful retro pinup model. She's wonderful at posing her whole body. But my wife Wendy would have to be my favorite. Most of my best pieces involve her.
What makes a painting erotic?
Wow, that's a hard one. I guess it would have to be sexual without showing sex. That could just be a look in the eyes. Hard to answer without a specific piece we are talking about. You just know it when it you see it.
Any major projects you're currently working on?
I have a few things I'm working on, doing a series of pinups with historical figures, and also planning a series based on the seven deadly sins.
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