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Horrornews.net features daily news, film announcements, film and book reviews, interviews, live podcast shows and a collective of original exclusive articles covering all aspects of the horror industry, below is an interview between Artist Nick Rose and Horrornews.net, republished with permission from artist.
Interview with Nick Rose for Horrorrnews.net
Hey Nick! Thanks for taking the time for us-how are you, and what’s keeping you busiest these days?
Hey George, how are you? I really appreciate Horrornet’s interest in my art and you doing this Interview with me. To answer your questions, I am doing great. These last 2 years have been a constant battle to stay healthy since I was told I have COPD and diabetes. I have finally got myself healthy and much stronger than I was. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life, and this time I’m not going to blow it. I exercise when I can, eat a good diet and I gave up smoking and drinking. Now I can see the results and my art career has took off like a rocket and I have the strong desire to live again. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life right now.
As far as art goes, I stay busy as heck. I recently was able to return to my roots and start painting in oils again, and I have been working like a madman ever since. I will go into that more in some of the questions coming up.
I know you’ve had a long trip in the art world, but could you start by giving us the skinny on your earliest inspirations into doing what you do?
Let me start this with I was Goth long before they had a name for it. I was born with a very high IQ of 163 and ever since I can remember I have love anything horror or dark. I can remember seeing the “Wizard of Oz” for the first time when I was 5. The evil witch and her flying monkeys had an impact on me that I can’t explain, but it did change me forever. I remember when I was in the 1st grade and the original “Outer Limits” first came on Television, I was glued to the set every week. My mother didn’t want me to watch the show so I would always sneak to the neighbors house to watch it.
I grew up in a very messed up household. My mother was constantly drunk or drugged out, and the man she was married to, not my father, was a bigot and sadist. I can’t even begin to tell you of all the times he beat my mother and me and of course that had a huge impact on my young mind. I grew up a very nervous and scared child because of him. It also added to the very dark things I would see in my mind.
When I reached Junior High School I started realizing that I wanted to write and draw. At that age my urge to be a writer was much stronger than my desire to draw. I didn’t start drawing on a regular basis until I was in the Army. The stories I wrote where about werewolf’s and vampires. I remember my first essay that I wrote in the 8th grade was about monsters. I had done a ton of research and reading to find real newspaper articles that backed up the existence of such creatures. I was doing “Destination Truth” way back in the 8th grade. Lol
I was surrounded by monsters all through my childhood. Real ones and imaginary ones. I had a huge stack of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” and all the universal monster models. I had Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the “Curse of the Demon” posters all over my bedroom walls. I can remember the step-father tearing them all off my walls and destroying my models because I was having nightmares. He blamed the posters for the dreams, when in truth, it was him and my mom that where giving me nightmares. My mother pulled a loaded gun on me when I was 9 one night because she was drunk and she wanted me to go to bed. He was drunk too. I lived in terror. So over the years it just became my life, and the darkness was born inside of me. It was the only thing that I could find comfort in, and through the years I started drawing and painting it.
The old school sci fi/horror/fantasy themes seem prevalent in your work, and I know Frank Frazetta was inspirational to you. How much of an influence were people like Frazetta and Ken Kelly to your work?
I think it would be safe to say that all the artist out there close to my age bracket where all very heavily influenced by Frank Frazetta. I was in a community college when the first collection of his work was published. I spent a lot of time in the book stores back then and ran across it one day after school. From there on, I knew I wanted to paint. Nothing else meant so much to me. I knew I had to be an artist from that point on, and the long road began.
I meet Ken Kelly a few years ago at DragonCon, and that was a very special moment for me. Ken is the nephew of Ellie Frazetta and because of that he got to be trained by Frazetta. At the time I meet Ken, I was being trained by Master Daniel Horne and Todd Lockwood. He was trained by a living fantasy master, and so was I. To me that was really a special thing and a very special moment. During my training Daniel sent me a book of Ken’s work during his training period, and when I felt like I wasn’t doing good I would look at Ken’s paintings during his training period and fell much better about my work. He struggled just as much as me. Of course these days, Ken is a master himself and his work is awesome. But like everyone else, he had to learn and had his share of flops. I was really impressed that Ken let the book of his early works be published. I would be way to ashamed to let folks see my early stuff these days. lol
Describe to our readers your thought process when you’re working out a piece, specifically between the old school painting style to the modern digital day?
I will get around to answering that but first I want the readers and fans understand something. My roots are traditional and I have recently went back to working in pencils and oil once again. A couple of years ago I got a gig working for “Baen’s Universe” which at the time I was very excited, but the art director worked on a monthly shedule. What I mean is instead of working on story’s 3 issues ahead like most publishers, he gave you the assignment and you had to have it turned in within a few weeks, and we are talking 2 color illustrations. Working in oils and traditional methods I just could not meet the deadlines, so I started using the program that Daniel and Todd had been using, Corel Painter. Shortly after that I went with a gut feeling and moved to Michigan. I could not afford a moving truck, so all I could take with me was what I could fit in my car and a friends van. I had to leave most of my studio stuff behind. Then when I got to Michigan, most of my things stayed in storage because I had to live in a hotel for a good month. During that time a thief stole most of the stuff I had brought with me. I was at the end of my rope, but I hung in there. It was hard though, I had been knocked on my butt constanly those last 3 years, but I am a fighter and keep getting up ready for more. I even shaved my head at that time, and developed a “Hardcore” attitude that I wasn’t going to let life and people get the best of me.
Then I meet Madison and we fell in love. She let me use her computer and I downloaded a free version of Painter and for the next two years I worked digitally. But last year I was finally able to start rebuilding my studio and now I am back to working with traditional metholds. The two years I worked digitally I won several awards and did tons of work and my name became known throughout the horror business. I even was awarded the name “King of Scream” by the media and was filmed for a Documentary of the same name.
Now I have a studio to die for. I have far better equipment and supplies than I ever had before and I am painting in oils again. Hopefully life wont throw me any more curves like that again. If it does, I’ll keep swinging.
To answer your question, first it depends on what I am doing the illustration for. If it is a cover assignment for a publisher, after I have read the short version of the book, I work on thumbnails of different idea’s and layouts. I do the same thing wether it is for digital or traditional. Once we have an idea of where the painting is heading, in some cases I do a value studies of the chosen thumbnail to create the most dramatic effect that I can come up with. This also helps you map how you want the viewers eye to move through the painting.
Once all that is approved, I start drawing it out, and once I have the drawing done, I show it to the Art Director one more time to make sure I nailed it. Once I have the Okay, I start painting.
But these days I do mostly want I want. I am lucky enough to have publishers that will buy the print rights to whatever I do, and I have collectors that will buy the originals. Almost all the original work I did during my training days has been sold. I have one more painting that I am going to put up for sale next month. The painting’s I am doing now are for the art shows. I am going back on the road again for the first time in 3 years doing horror conventions, and conventions that are local to me. So when I paint something that comes straight from my mind, I sit down with a piece of 17 x 22 drawing paper and just explode on it. The results of that the last few months have been blowing people away. The painting that I did with Dia Green as the model blew a lot of folks mind.
Further on that, I know you went through a period of time where you put the art dream on hold-was this a particularly dark period for you, and what instances brought you back to the fold?
You are referring to 1995. I had reached a point to where I didn’t feel like I was ever going to get anywhere with my work. I had done some commercial work and made a lot of money doing it, but the age of the computer was moving in and I just could not see the value of it at that time. I turned to drugs and drinking very heavy. For 5 years my art supplies stayed packed up. I got married to a woman I don’t even want to talk about and my life was a living hell. Then in 2000 a young man showed me the internet. I saw how artist had put websites of their work on there and how easy it was now to be in touch with publishers. I had a website built and sent samples to 5 publishers. I havent had a day off from art since them. I must have worked for every small press publisher there was. I even became an Art Director for a couple of years. I was in charge of 3 magazines and a book company. A lot of the emerging artist you see these days, I was the person that discovered them and put their work on or in publications.
Shortly after that time, my health went to hell. I drove myself to the hospital having a heart attack. They found out I had a blocked value. My blood presure was sky high, I was a diabetic, and I had the beginnings of COPD. All the years of partying, drinking, and smoking had finally caught up to me. This was in 2005. Once again, I felt like I had been given a death sentence. I had supported myself through all those years as a floor installer. Now I was told I could not do that anymore. I didn’t know what to do, and had no one to turn to. Then I got a e-mail from Daniel Horne. He was commenting on a painting I had done, and he had went over the painting and made notes and sent it to me. He also sent me his phone number and asked me to call him. It took me a week to get up the courage to do so, but I did. I had meet Daniel in 2001 at a convention in Roanoke, Virginia, called Shevacon. I was a guest and he was the guest of honor. He was one of my hero’s. I had followed his work for years, and at the con he told me to stay in touch, so I did. Every once in a while I would send him a new painting I was proud of, but he never said anything until the painting he critiqued me on. When I called him, he told me he wanted to train me. So, I became a Master’s apprentice and the rest as they say is History in the making.
When you did come back, how was it balancing your earliest methods with the dawning digital means of painting? I know you’re a big proponent of using technology, but can you also hold to the fact that there’s a certain level of magic within old school organic creative means, just like there’s an inimitable quality to make-up, puppetry and costumes versus excessive CGI in the film medium?
As I mentioned before, the main reason I took up digital art was because of time restraits, and then I was force to continue it after my move to Michigan. Digital art does have it’s place with me and it should with every artist. It is getting to the point if you want to make a living doing art in publishing, you have to learn to use a digital program and use it as another tool as you would oils, pencils or inks.
There are 2 big strikes against digital art thought. A lot of artist, including myself blame digital art for the low pay that Illustrator now make. Publishers are more interested in getting a Illustration done quick and cheap compared to the days when an artist could make a decent living doing Illustration. Now the mindset is to turn out as many digital pieces as you can to make more money instead of taking the time to turn out a painting of quality and artistic value. I have reached the point to where I don’t have to do that anymore. I can spend a month on a painting if I want to, but a large majority of artist have to do Illustrations as fast as they can to support themselfs and their families.
The second big strike against digital work is that some of the programs out there do all the work, and it doesn’t takes hardly any skill as an artist to use them. Programs like Bryce, and Poser. There are several more as well. Using these programs is like taking photo’s of different things and putting them all together and then signing your name. Poser gives you the figure already drawn and you just dress it up. You see a lot of this in the very small press, and the work is even in art shows which is an insult to all the artist that spent years developing their talents.
There are programs like Illustrator, Painter, Paint Shop Pro and so one that are similar to doing real art. I do respect them and the artist that use them. I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to be an artist to learn traditional means first, then digital second. As an professional, you need to be able to use all the tools available to you so you can stay completive in today’s market. There is plenty of call for it. Look at all the computer animation that you see in movies these days like “Avatar” It brings worlds to life that could only be dreamed about before. I am by no means saying anything negative about computer art, all I am saying is that there are different levels of it. Some levels are simply like using a coloring book. The programs like Poser are fun for anyone that just want’s to have fun, but if you are using a program like that and want to be taken seriouly, then you need to rethink your position.
7) Where do you feel you stand now in terms of what you’ve learned over the course of your career? Have the lessons have you learned and mistakes made really impacted you as an artist?
Right now I feel like I still have a ways to go as an artist. Everyday I learn something new, and I hope until the day I die that I keep on learning. I think if an artist fells like they know it all then they will grow no more and their work will still look the same in 10 years. I know a few pro’s like that. It is very sad. To me, Life and art are a growing experience. Everyday is a new day and at the end of each day I go to sleep knowing that I have learned something new, and a lot of times I realize I was wrong about something. The more you grow the more you realize that you didn’t know what you where talking about. I am sure in 10 years, when I look back at this interview I am going to say to myself, “Darn, I was an idiot for saying that”
I always stress to folks to not take my word as a artist or a man as fact, because I will probably change my mind in 2 years. To me that is what makes life and art so exciting, and to me the 2 are the same. My life is my art, and my art is my life.
An yes, I have learned tons from my mistakes, and lord knows I have made a million of them. Quite often I have put my faith in people that call themselfs my friend only to see them disappoint me or stab me in the back. Luckily Madison came along and she can judge people a lot better than me and keep me out of trouble. I have made plenty of Mistakes concerning my career. Those of you that remember the “Dark Angels” year, that was the biggest mistake I ever made, but it did show me the true faces of people that I thought I could trust.
The most positive thing that ever happened to me as an artist was Daniel training me, and the Todd Lockwood helping me as well. Because of the two of them I am living my dream on my own terms. You can’t ask for any more than that. It took 53 years, but I am finally happy with my life and myself as a human being.
8) I’m really interested in your connection with TSR, Dragon Magazine and the old school D&D art. Could you tell us about your work and inspiration in this field?
It’s probably not as much as you may think, but here is that adventure. When I was in my early 20’s I got caught up in Dungeons and Dragons. I loved it and anything fantasy. I also owned a comic book store at that time, and because of that I got to know Clyde Caldwell before his D &D days. At that early stage in a my art carreer Clyde was a huge influence on me. We got to be friends, and I would hang out with him a lot. I would also go to his house and watch him paint. He taught me alot about presenting my work as professional. I also appeared in some of his early paintings. At that time he was working a good bit for Heavy Metal magazine. He got a gig to do a “John Carter of Mars” series of paintings for them. I posed as John Carter in a couple of the paintings. I was also the monsters in a few. Lol
I knew a man by the name of Jack Pentis and would go by his office once a month to show him the work I had done the month before. His company designed amusement park attractions. He told me that he was doing a big project for then TSR (Wizards of the Coast) and told me he could get me in with them if I wanted. I told him about Clyde, so Jack showed TSR Clyde’s work and the rest is history. I also got in, but I was still to immature to take it seriously and blew it.
Several years later I sent some samples in to Dragon Magazine and they published one of my paintings inside issue #203 and gave me and invitation to do more, but I didn’t. At the time I was making some major bucks doing commercial work in my home town of Charlotte N.C., so the money Dragon paid at the time was chicken feed to me.
Since then I have designed some figures for a gaming company I can’t even remember the name of now. That was about 7 years ago. Last year I did some illo’s for Hero Games for their Dragon Handbook. That has been the extent of it to this point, but who knows what the future holds.
To this day, what are some of your favorite books, films and music which serves as particular inspiration for your art?
Wow, that is a huge question. When I was younger I was an avid reader, now I listen to audio books while I work as well as music. As far as writers there is just so many of them to name them all, but here are a few, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, Steven R. Donaldson, Steven King, Clive Barker, Joseph D’Lacey, Madison Johns, Anne Rice, H.P.Lovecraft, Poe, J.K. Rowlings (Yep, I love Harry Potter) and the list goes on.
Movie wise, anything horror or sci-if from the 30’s till now. I have a huge DVD collection of Movies. I have well over 10 thousand now, including the complete Dr.Who series from 1963 to now. I have been watching the Hartnell episodes recently. I love all the B movies and a lot of the C movies too. I have a lot of friends that work in Indy films and I collect them as well, especially my dear friend Suzi Lorraine. I am stoked about her new movie “Won Ton Baby” She also turned producer as well as actress with this movie.
I love all the Universal Movies, the Hammer films, anything by William Castle and of course all the American International Movies. I’m also a huge fan of Vincent Price and have all of his movies, as well as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugois.
I love all the Charles Band movies (Full Moon) and got to hang out with him a few years ago, I also went home with a boxfull of his movies all signed by him to me. Big Grin! I Can’t forget the Troma films. I love them too. Movies and Tv shows have had a huge effect on my imagination and I have loved them since I was 5. I can’t even tell you how many times my Mom tanned my hide when she would catch me watching them. I can still remember running home from where the school bus would drop me off to catch the start of “Dark Shadows’
I am thrilled to see a surge of new Horror Host apearing on the internet hosting the old classics. Some of my favorites are Roxsy Tyler, Karlos Borloff, and Spooky Demensia. There are plenty of others out there, but I haven’t seen much of them because of my time restraits.
Music wise, I love everything from Classical to Metal, from hip hop to country. I have a huge libary of music including movies soundtracks. If I am not listening to music I am listening to audio books. Recently I have become a big fan of a steampunk bank “Abney Park” If you haven’t heard them, you should really check them out. They have a very unique sound. When I want to get all dark and moody I listen to “Midnight Syndicate” Awesome background music for anything dark and scary.
I grew up on Grand Funk Railroad, Rare Earth, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, CCR, and my main man Alice Cooper. These days I am a big fan of Marilyn Mansion, ICP, Kid Rock, Metallica and AC/DC, but there are 100’s more, but these are the bands that come to mind right off. I love anything with that blues/rock sound.
What are you working on next? Could you fill us in on any future plans
I will tell you what I think I will be doing, but you know how things change on you. Mostly I am working on my own progects. Like I said, I don’t have to depend on money from doing publishing work anymore, so if you see me do anything in publishing you will know it is something I am stoked about. At present I working on a series of oil paintings that I have wanted to do for a long time, but I didn’t feel like my skills where good enough to do them justice before. Now I feel like I can, but a few years from now I may look back and say, oh man, those are horrible, I need to try again. Lol. That happens to me alot. I also have a deal with Actress Suzi Lorraine, so you will be seeing a lot of paintings with her in them, as well as Tilly Rivers, and Madeline Frost. I am hoping to do some more paintings with Dai as the model as well. She is awesome.
One of my projects I work on here and there is my first journal/novel called “The book of Rose” and it will be filled with new illustrations. I am hoping to have that out in 2012. I will also be doing instructional books and DVD’s. I am hoping to do more in the movie business. I keep getting plenty of offers, but they never seem to develope. I am sure they will at some point.
In 2011 I will be focusing on creating merchandise of my work, including sketch books, collector cards and about anything art looks good on. People can go to my website http://wickedkittystudio.com to see much more art and buy prints and other merchandise over this coming year. If you want to be friends on Facebook look for NickRoseTwo and if you want to read my blog to see how things are going for me or pick up some art tips, you can go to http://nickroseart.blogspot.com/
I hope you will look for us at conventions and come by and say “hello”
Thanks again for your time! Take care! MG
Thank you George for having me and I would like to say one last things to the readers. We live in a time when I see darkness everyday. You can’t turn on the news without seeing real life monsters. A lot of people have lost their homes, their lives, their jobs and their families. It is a dark time for us all, and during this dark time a lot of you have taken up to me and my art. For that I am eternally grateful and I thank you all. Always remember from what I have learned and told you here, no matter how dark things seem to be to you, tommorrow is a new day, and I am living proof that you should never give up no matter how bad things get. Much love to you all and “May the Darkness Comfort You”
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