A rare and unique, upcoming talent in the horror art world, Joshua Aden has taken the acrylic medium and turned it into something with which to express the stuff of his personal nightmares. And yet, as his most recent portrait of Captain Cruella in sugar skull getup will indicate, he is also more than capable of branching out beyond the gruesome and grotesque. It was that portrait that recently brought him to my attention, and I was honored that this promising young painter would consent to discuss his work and inspiration with me...
Tell me a little about how you got interested in art in the first place.
I believe that I was born into it. My father was a brilliant artist who completely wasted away his talent to alcoholism. Damn shame. If I learned anything at all, it was to never let it go to waste.
Who are some of your influences?
Ninety percent of all my influence comes from film. Masters like Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Rick Baker. Seeing what these people can accomplish on screen always makes me push myself to new levels in art. I still keep my fingers crossed that I can break into special effects one day.
Why this subject matter?
People always say "do what you love" and that’s what I'm doing. I love this genre! I live and breathe horror.
What attracts you to it?
I grew up to horror-loving parents, and never had those barriers that most kids had. Most kids had He-Man and Thundercats. I had C.H.U.D., Aliens and Phantasm. My parents never had a “rating” system, and for that, I thank them.
A lot of your work is specifically zombie related. Why is that?
Some of the first drawings/paintings I had ever done as a child were of nightmares of mine that were brought on by staying up way too late watching Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Rather than terrifying me, I was enthralled by it.
What is it about zombies?
It’s just a hell of a lot of fun. Best I can imagine is that zombie movies in general immerse you into a role of kill or be killed, fight to survive or become one of the horde. Have to ask, what type are you? Something’s very appealing about both sides, ultimately who wants to be the last man on earth? Personally, I’d rather eat the flesh of the living.
What work are you the most proud of?
Without a doubt, the portrait of George A. Romero. The man himself called me a Rembrandt, and that he admires my work. I still have a smile on my face to this day from his unbelievably kind words. That painting has found a great home, but that will continue to be the highlight of my painting career.
How has the reaction of the public generally been to your work?
It has been overwhelmingly positive. The general concensus is that most would love to display one of my paintings right in the middle of their living room. However, they are afraid of offending friends, family, or children. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. Just the really awesome ones!
What do you find to be the most effective ways to promote what you do?
So far, social networking has yielded some success. My girlfriend, Jenn, handles most of the promoting, using Etsy, Twitter, Facebook and whatever other sites she feels appropriate. But I never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.
How has it been trying to make a living of it?
Difficult, to say the least. But I must say, every time a painting sells, it revives me and it assures me that there's still someone out there that understands, and that we still have people that love this stuff as much as I do.
What's the secret to success in that department?
I assume it will be hard work and persistence. You have to show your clients that you are 100% passionate about every aspect of what you do and let it show in every brush stroke.
Tell me about the Captain Cruella portrait you recently did.
One hell of a fun project! Unbelievable support was given to me from everyone. I cant begin to express how much it means to me. You couldn’t ask for better subject matter.
Why did you choose her, and why that photo?
I have always been very attracted to the "day of the dead" imagery. I came across the image on Facebook, and was immediately blown away by the brilliant use of color, the "out of focus" nature of the flowers and most of all, Cruella is simply stunning in the makeup. It was a nice change of pace from the gore and zombies to do something beautiful.
What does the future hold for you?
Time will tell. I hope to hone my craft as much as humanly possible. My ultimate goal is to continue to do what I love, do awesome work and make people happy through the joy of gore!
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