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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Visceral Visionaries: Rachel Sims

If you've ever come across her stuff online, you may know her better as Lipstattoo. Rachel Sims is one of the most prominent and talented horror craft makers out there right now, and so it was a no-brainer that she would be the first craft-related artist to be featured in my little Visceral Visionaries series. Rachel recently took some time out from her thriving UK-based business to answer some questions about her work...

What initially attracted you to horror imagery in particular?
I think it probably harks back to the days when I was around 7 or 8 years old, when my Mum would take me to the video store, and I would always end up inching my way towards the horror section, when I should have been picking something with Chevy Chase from the family aisle!
I loved looking at all the lurid covers for the films. That kind of design and imagery has just stuck with me all these years. I think my interest in the horror genre stems from then.
I like most horror, be it in films, music or books. It's just something that has always been in my life, so I couldn't really see myself making anything different from that.

What inspires you the most in what you do?
Horror films mostly. There just has to be a tagline in a poster, a scene or a line of dialogue that strikes a chord, and I'm then trying to think of the next item to make. I get quite excited about watching films for that reason, especially the old '80s cheese which I'm so fond of.

When did you start creating your pieces? What led up to it?
Well, it was around 2002-03 ish, and an ex-boyfriend's idea--as much as I hate to admit it. I've always been arty and into crafts, but never really thought I could make money from it. But one day he told me about this new (at the time) social networking site called Myspace, and that I should get on there and advertise my drawing skills for hire for bands and tattoos, etc.
I drew a logo for the ex's record label, something for The Gallows (before they got sooo famous) and Spit Like This, but people were unreliable with payments, and were generally shadey, so I gave that up. I then DIY'ed up an old jacket for a Misfits gig I went to. Lots of people liked it. I started making transfers from my own artwork to put onto clothing, and that's just progressed into painting bags, bangles and my own jewelry.

When did you start to realize there was a real demand out there for the kind of stuff you were working on?
The amount of return customers I got spoke volumes. The more time I spent on the horrorpunk/psychobilly/deathrock scene, I could tell that people were crying out for the gore/horror stuff, as there are only a couple of companies making those kind of accessories (kreepsville666 being one). If you're in the UK, pretty much all the girls will be wearing at least one item from them. At least when you buy a Lipstattoo item and go to a gig, you will NEVER run into someone with the same item, as everything is OOAK [one of a kind].

What's been the toughest piece you've ever had to make? Which one are you the most proud of?
The toughest items I've made would have to be the handpainted bangles I produced as official merchandise for the band Devilish Presley. Each bangle had 'Voodoo Goddess' painted on it, each had to have three layers of paint, then a coat of varnish. And I made 40 of those! I had nothing but a gnarled claw for a hand by the end.
The items I'm most proud of are the severed finger keychains I hand-sculpted for Steve at the website Horror Extreme as promotional gifts. They were given out at the Gorezone Weekend of Horrors. They were so intricately detailed, and not only did I hand sculpt them all, but I then painted them up all gooey and gorey. I made 20 of those bad boys, and they did look amazing, if I do say so myself.

Has there ever been something that was just too difficult to pull off?
Not yet. Sometimes things have been a little awkward, but I just talk with the customer and alter the brief a little to fit it in with what I can do.
I don't tend to do exact copies of pictures or photos, as I prefer to use my own artwork. So sometimes I turn work down on those grounds. Now that I've said that, I'll probably get a request for some fantasical item that needs pixie feet and a unicorn's horn!

Do you get a lot of custom requests? If so, what are some of the more unique ones?
Bar the items I sell though my Etsy store, pretty much everything I make is a custom order. It's so much easier for me because I can get all the details I need to make a really unique item. I think the severed fingers that I mentioned before were the most fun to make and the most unique.

What do you find the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?
Other than the creating, I love the networking side of owning Lipstattoo. Be it on Twitter, Myspace, or Etsy, I've met some incredibly lovely, supportive people such as Goreboy, Tom and Matt at The Gentlemen's Grindhouse, and of course your good self. Knowing that people like my work is a huge boost, and keeps me going to make more gore-ific goodies!

How big do you see Lipstattoo Designs becoming?
I see big things in Lipstattoo Designs' future, but not just in accessories. I'd like to expand into greetings cards, shoes, jackets and homewares. Also, I'd like to become more well-known on the horror scene, and have a larger range of items in my store. I'm pretty happy with the way things are going at the moment, but more sales and promotion are always welcome!

Anything big on the horizon you might like my readers to be aware of?
Well, once Devilish Presley gets back on the road after their year break, I will be making a new range of merch, and will be vending at their shows. I'm also making merch for another band called Pink Hearse. On top of that, I'll be making official merch for the 2010 Mis-Fest festival. I've also I've opened a store at www.folksy.co.uk for my UK customers, it's in its very early stages, but keep 'em peeled.


Christopher Zenga said...

This is great, there are so many Ghoulies out there that want to show there love of all things macabre, and without artists like Rachel we may all very well be naked!

Horror art, clothing and general ghastly goodies are becoming far easier to get in Canada over the last 10 years, but it takes artist like Rachel to lead the way.

Keep it up!

Much respect for B-Sol for giving artist a place in the Vault and for all the respect he has shown for the work they do.

Later days,

Christopher Zenga

B-Sol said...

Thanks Chris--I'll have to feature you in a future edition!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for such a wonderful and fun interview.

And thank you Chris for such sweet words, hope to read about you here soon.

Rach xx

Christopher Zenga said...

Thanks so much B!

A lot has changed at the day after and I have come along way since my first series of ZomBears. I would love to bring the ghoulies to visit the vault and its extended family again.

No worries Rachel, it really is wonderful to meet new artists. I hope to see more of you as well.

Later day all,


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