The belief surrounding a natural artist is confirmed when you meet an artist like Cristóbal Graciá Salgado of El Dodo Albino. Cristóbal is a self-taught artist who taught himself how to sculpt using guides he found on the internet. Not without a great sense of humour, Cristóbal enjoyed his family's first disgusted reactions to his 'dissected-looking' creatures. His creations are so life-like that it is no wonder they would entice such reactions.
"Everyone has to learn something even masters. A bit of EGO is good but you should not live thinking about what other people think about you or your work." - Cristóbal Graciá Salgado
When you look at any of Klaudia's dolls, what do you see? Do you see a sinister creature staring back at you, or amidst its dark elements, do you see a glimpse of light? Klaudia Gaugier possesses a remarkable talent. Unnervingly beautiful and profoundly unique, her dolls speak great volumes. Fascinated with the duality of man, Klaudia creates her dolls in man's image. She reasons that what people see in her artwork says more about the viewer than it does about her. She forces you to think about your own relationship with the artwork, where you stand, where you are coming from, and how you have come to view her dolls in such a way. She makes you think - a sign of a truly engaging artist.
"I like neither compliments or criticism - both are subjective assessment of the recipients, the interpretation of the image that they see through their own prism. In the process of creation I have to be faithful to myself. Only then it has true value." - Klaudia Gaugier
Colleen Downs of Loopyboopy is an enigma of sorts. Creative, expressive, moving, and incredibly talented, Colleen, unlike most artists, does not have an exact plan when she creates her wondrous dolls. As soon as she starts the molding process, she lets her imagination take course and in a sense plays both an active and passive role as the doll takes shape and form. A New Orleans native, it's no wonder her doll creations exhibit a certain magical quality about them - how they just come to form and almost take on a life of their own. New Orleans is a magical place as most NOLA natives will tell you and so it only comes naturally that Colleen and her artwork would possess and display some of these magical characteristics.
"I'm constantly motivated and inspired by the human condition. Those with afflictions or abnormalities, for lack of a better word are infinitely more interesting than the rest of us." - Colleen Downs
There is nothing ordinary about artist Trent Manning's works. Innovative and contemporary yet his works still manage to connote an old-world charm to them. I cannot help but think of Gepetto, the craftsman and toymaker from the popular novel (and film) Pinocchio, when I see his creations. Trent Manning's 'toys' invoke a sense of nostalgia - a sense of familiar comfort - while at the same time convey unconventional and gloriously grim characteristics. To describe Trent Manning's works as unique would be an understatement of sorts. He is a master craftsman who successfully blends the old with the new in a way I have never seen before. I had the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable artist, his life, and his artistic process.
"This series is very much a reflection of my personality: a somewhat disillusioned cynic, with an odd sense of humor, who still clings tightly to his inner child." - Trent Manning
There is just something about Sunny Carvalho's artwork that resonates with me. Vibrant, moving, full of life, with just the right touch of darkness and morbid characteristics, Sunny's artwork transcends categorization. When looking at her artwork, one cannot help but think there is more than one story being told by them. Each part of Sunny's paintings seem to tell a story which contributes to an overall tale. A brilliant artist and a talented storyteller, some of Sunny's art contain magical and other-wordly characteristics to them which can be likened to story books or fairy tales. Just like her paintings, Sunny Carvalho's zest for life and refreshing enthusiasm has a magnetic way of pulling you right into her colourful and lively world.
"I always tell my students to not criticize their own work. The puzzle of artwork is made of many pieces and each time a person completes a project, it is a building block to the next step." - Sunny Carvalho
Michele Lynch is a superhero. Having once worked for the creative-sucking Soul Sucker, she has since escaped and created a band of misfits designed to take back their kingdom. Is this all make-believe? Not really. The Soul Sucker happens to be the vice president of a company Michele used to work for. And that is perhaps why some of her fans can relate to Michele and her artwork. Who has not at some point felt trapped in one's career, day to day life, feeling like a mere cog in a wheel with the Soul Sucker draining every bit of energy and motivation one has left? I know I have been in that boat more than a number of times.
"Sadly, there are a lot of people working for the Soul Sucker. So many people have shared their story, and sadly how they feel stuck, and unable to escape. I wish I could free everyone from the castle of corporation." - Michele Lynch
There is just something about blythe dolls that is so fascinating. They have the potential to simultaneously delight and terrify. Blythe dolls have that creepy horror-like quality about them which is hard to ignore. Greta Wade-Jenereaux of Shepuppy takes it a step further and actually customizes blythe dolls so that they take on macabre, gothic and dark themes. As cracked and flawed as Greta deliberately makes her dolls to be, however, one cannot deny that they are visually stimulating. Ultimately, Greta's dolls exhibit an unconventional beauty about them. Breaking the conventions of what defines beauty, Greta's dolls are powerfully subversive and meaningful.
"I love the thought of a once-loved beautiful doll being left behind or abandoned somewhere, the signs of neglect and time reflected in her eyes and on her face, her once shiny hopeful face now broken with pain and sorrow. And somehow even through the decay and cracks there is still beauty in there if you're willing to look." - Greta Wade-Jenereaux
It isn't everyday you see a stuffie that makes you gasp in wonder at its amazing detail while at the same time entice the usual warm feeling one gets when looking at a cuddly stuffed toy. Unlike most stuffed toys out there, there is nothing common or ordinary about Aleisha's work. Sinister yet loveable, macabre yet adorable, monstrous yet cute - Aleisha Chapman of Lazy Voodoo manages to combine these contrasting elements beautifully into her beloved creatures. Aleisha's attention to detail and love for her craft translates well into her voodoos with their wondrously animated goofy expressions which seem to take on a life of their own.
"Making art is my therapist, my sense of accomplishment, my entertainment, and my connection not only to me, but to the rest of the world. I was diagnosed with cancer the last year of art school, and because of art, I had a reason to focus on something other than myself." - Aleisha Chapman
Kylie Dexter's artwork perfectly combines dark and morbid elements with that of cuteness overload. I dare you to look at her doll's sad expressions and not want to reach out and cuddle them. A fan of "Dark Crystal" and "Never Ending Story", Kylie's love for puppets ultimately lead to the beginning of Dolldrums. There is just something about Kylie's dolls that make you want to love them to pieces. "My favourite thing is to hear from people afterwards that I had somehow captured the spirit of the person in the doll. I try to focus on the doll being with them and bringing some love into their lives. We call it DooVoo (reverse voodoo)." - Kylie Dexter
An Interview with Mahlimae (Doll Artist), Nicole Watt. The power of simplicity, understanding mankind's darkness and light, and the wild unknown.
To classify Sarah’s artwork into a particular genre would be doing it disservice. Part steampunk, part Victorian, part vintage, part taxidermy, part oddity, part goth, brilliantly crafted with multiple found objects, Sarah’s works transcend any categorizations. Upon viewing her works, It isn’t difficult to ascertain that limitations and bounds are not part of Sarah’s artistic process, or vocabulary for that matter. "I think the lid has just popped on keeping things socially acceptable. I think the macabre has been a part of things all along and people are not ashamed to show it anymore." - Sarah Dolezal
Ioanna Tsouka is probably one of the most grounded artists I know. For those of you who know her personally, I’m certain at some point you have been inspired by Ioanna’s driven and informed outlook on life’s challenges. Her passion to understand the world in her quest to exact much-needed change is akin to a candle casting light in the darkness. Anger, resentment, and hatred, after all, tend to disappear when one makes a serious attempt to understand the unfathomable. Much in the same way she conveys her understanding of the ways of the world, Ioanna has a way of portraying dark elements within her dolls wrapped with a veil of optimism...of hope - a light that stirs even the darkest of souls. "I love the connection that my work creates between me and the world, the people that provide loving homes for my dolls and everyone that supports and encourages my endeavours." - Ioanna Tsouka
Merging contemporary and surrealist macabre and at times horrific images with Renaissance and Eastern European styles, Basso creates evocative and timeless pieces. There is nothing incredibly disturbing about his works. In fact, one would not be able to say there is anything gory or gratuitous about them. His artworks, however, have a fascinatingly nightmarish quality about them - so subtle and yet so powerfully affecting. "I think that throughout history there has always been a fascination with macabre art. One reason may be that it’s a way for us to help deal with our own feelings of mortality." - William Basso
The artist behind zombienose is somewhat of a mystery. His/her talent is apparent. The animated and imaginative characters he/she creates, their haunting yet darkly sweet qualities, and their unique noses clearly distinguishes them as zombienose originals. "I believe we're all born as artists, but some people give it up early on." - Zombienose
A touch macabre...a touch morbid...and an astounding amount of talent, skill, and heart, artist Chris Haas shows the world that he can take ethically-sourced animal bones and turn them into imaginative and unconventional works of art. "I have been collecting skulls and animal parts that I would find while hiking through the woods and have always had a fascination with nature and creatures." - Chris Haas
A list of artists who have created beautiful works depicting the inevitability of death.
Artist Chris Raimo makes spooky things damn fun, and when I say fun I mean not just so for folks like me who find pleasure in watching horror films. Chris’ cute and quirky illustrations of morbid monsters are dark but not so much so that they will repel younger kids or fearful adults (ahem, the chickens) out there. Colourful characters such as Jack who loves to dress up as famous horror icons or Gloomera the somber little girl surrounded by creepy characters in her dark and spooky world are uncommonly gleeful. His animations allow one to regard elements often thought of as frightening, such as nightmares, in a more humorous and pleasing light. "I love horror, horror movies, and really scary things, but I do not like walk thru Haunted Houses ha." - Chris Raimo
The circus aptly defies conventions with its bravado displays of magical feats, supernatural elements, and its unabashed exhibitions presenting those who exist outside of the norm...the so-called "freak" shows. On the whole, the circus, in light of its often troublesome image, forces us to evaluate our roles as spectators and as participants. We are forced to question the existence of reality and that of fiction. In the circus, after all, things aren't always as they seem. A contemporary artist's depiction of past circus forms further lends a fascinating perspective into an era not long forgotten. This application of contemporary sensibilities further breathes life into an antiquated and still valuable art form. As you can imagine then, I was thrilled to be contacted by an artist who designs circus banners and designed the banners found in one of my favourite AHS installations - Freak Show. "I have never thought about quitting being an artist. It’s the only thing that I haven’t quit." - Molly McGuire
Experiencing Sophia Rapata’s artwork is like stepping into a sweet nightmare. Though eerie and at times disturbingly frightening, there is nothing revolting about her works. On the contrary, there is something about her morbid paintings and illustrations that pulls me right into their dark surreal worlds and I can’t help but remain riveted. The characters she creates in her illustrations can be sinister and unnerving. And yet, they provoke a sense of solace at the same time. Perhaps in her creations, I see the true face of humanity and am comforted by this familiarity in spite of all its darkness. "I've had my ups and downs but I believe that's what builds character and all things happen when they need to." - Sophia Rapata
It is difficult not to fall in love with Debra’s artwork. Friends and family who have seen the three dolls we own have inquired where they can get them. Not too frightening, not sickeningly over-the-top cute...they are perfect for adults and kids who want stuffies with a bite. On top of that, they are also very affordable which is extremely rare in the world of art collecting. It’s true that I admire tons of artists who produce morbid artwork but most produce artwork beyond my means. Debra’s artwork is financially attainable without sacrificing the quality and sincerity of her work. "We all walk a fine line between the real and the perceived. I always tell my husband the only perception that matters is mine and this is true for everyone because it is the only one we see." - Debra Klopp Kersey
Yosiell is not only an artist but a fascinating storyteller. His works both delight the artist lover and folks like me who love the telling of fantastical tales. Yosiell developed elaborate stories around his artwork going so far as to have written a guide book on his marvelously mystical creatures. Having a story behind each of his designed creature just makes them all the more fascinating. I cannot help but become involved in them beyond their apparent artistry. "...do the work, put it out there and the rest will fall into place. I think at times I try to control the direction of where my art is going or a certain situation I’m in dealing with my art...I need to remember to let it go." - Yosiell Lorenzo
Louise Revill of Odd Sox has a wicked sense of humour. Her anti-valentine sentiments and biting approach to life's most sentimental events is exhilarating, and culminates in her wacky character Jeff. It's no wonder tons of her fans scramble to get a Jeff of their very own. He resonates with the inner critic in all of us - the part in us that says 'f%$k this BS' whenever life throws us curve-balls, and the part in us that wants people who proclaim making lemonade out of lemons to just shove it. "There's always humour to be found, even in the darkest dark and I think that's what I like to portray, though I'm not sure anyone else really gets that!" - Louise Revill
Matt Dangler's artwork impressively mixes dark macabre elements with monstrous forms which repel and at the same time entice the observer. I cannot help but feel drawn to his artwork. Observing Matt Dangler's artwork feels like a waking dream. There is something oddly familiar about his creations - as if I have dreamt these figures before, or have imagined them at some point in time. They are hypnotic and riveting. They tap into an inner consciousness which admittedly somewhat jostles me. What is it about Matt Dangler's artwork that pushes me to examine my psychic connections with them? Matt Dangler has an incredible ability to make one look at his creations and become involved in their deconstruction. He stimulates one's thoughts and interests without relying on provoking feelings of shock, fear, or disgust. There is nothing sensational about Matt Dangler's works - they are every bit powerful in their delicately complex forms. "I believe our attraction to dark art is unhealthy if it isn't being used to show "light"... otherwise it's like a siren calling us into the rocks, or Darth Vader seducing us with its power." - Matt Dangler
Gris Grimly employs an innovative way of mixing in elements which convey childhood fantasies ripe with awe and magic with that of more "adult-like" gothic elements. It is only in this day and age that we finally realize children too are fascinated by the darker and more complex parts of life, and that restricting this draw to the unknown does nothing for quelling childrens' rampant imaginations. "I've never understood a critique based on the authenticity of a mythical, fantastical or fictional creature. Imagination should never be stifled by preconceived notions." - Gris Grimly
It was right before Easter when I discovered Diana’s bloody bunnies. I was searching for bunny-themed artwork which strayed from the common cute ones that always popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook. Certainly, bunnies, especially Diana’s horror-themed ones, aren’t just perfect for the Easter season. Fans of creepy and cute, horror film aficionados, gothic art, and spooky literature will appreciate her various wickedly weird works accompanied by Shawn Given’s horror writings in the form of ghoulish grimoires all year round. "I believe that macabre culture especially appeals to people who always felt like outsiders or outcasts. It just really calls to us." - Diana Levin
Upon viewing Brian Somerville's sculptures, ancient stories about mythical and powerful beasts came to mind. Most significantly and what fascinates me the most is how Brian’s creatures exude certain qualities about them which convey omnipotence and vulnerability at the same time. Brian’s ‘beasts’ do not constitute human biological forms and yet there is something oddly human-like about them. Symbolizing various aspects of humanity and the ‘beast’ within each and every one of us, Brian’s sculptures are not as strange or as distant from reality as one may be prone to initially perceive. "I’ve found that the most successful artists have enough ego to ensure that their ideas get taken seriously, while remaining humble enough to work well with others and recognize constructive criticism that can be helpful." - Brian Somerville
Tim Prince of Forgotten Boneyard's creations resemble creatures right out of scary films or ones you read about in horrific tales. Beguiling and at times disturbing, Tim's creations are a magnificent merger of innocuous elements of nature with that of the dangerous and the grotesque. "...I want my work to come from the same place it always has. I don't seek out other artists that work with bones because I want my ideas to remain my own." - Tim Prince
There is nothing ordinary about Dug Stanat's sculptures. Truly, I have never seen anything like them. The emotional details in his creatures' facial expressions, their overall astounding intricacies, and the creativity and originality behind them are phenomenal. Dug's sense of humour also shines through his creations making them stand out even further. I admit he had me at the foreskin monster. If anyone can pull off creating something called a foreskin monster while successfully balancing the humour surrounding the concept with that of the exhibition of serious artistic skills, it's Dug. "I read somewhere long ago that a good way to motivate yourself is to pretend someone you really respect is always watching you." - Dug Stanat
When I first contacted Liz McGrath approximately a year ago, I had made plans to write a feature on her and her artwork. She was one of the artists I first discovered whose works fascinated me when I was just starting the blog. Marvelously detailed and morbidly beautiful dioramas espousing the connections between nature and the contemporary world peaked my interest. There is just something enticing about Liz McGrath's creations - they draw me right in. Her work makes me want to analyze their intricacies thoroughly, reach farther into understanding my own connections with them, and probe deeper into the meanings they convey. "...art has no time limits. It's not a contest. It's not based on how you look or how much money or skill you have. It's for you and if others enjoy it, all the better." - Liz McGrath
All unique in their own way, Leather Monsters offers irresistibly cute monsters of all shapes and sizes. These monsters are not only immensely adorable, they are made of leather which means they are also tough as nails. Painstakingly, artist Lisa Lee ensures each one of her creations is stuffed just right. Leather is not easy to work with. Lisa, however, has perfected the craft and without a doubt creates monsters that are truly one of a kind in both design and form. "I am so moved I can make things that adults throw convention aside for. I know its not ‘normal’ for adults to have dolls in North America - so I’m super complimented people push past that every time they buy one for a partner or a friend." - Lisa Lee
When I first encountered Veronika Lozovaya's artwork, I was immediately amazed, enthralled and enamored with her gothic art dolls. The pain, the longing, and the vulnerability caught within her Lost Children dolls' expressions were moving and difficult to ignore. "Everything about creating a doll is hard for me because my skills lag behind my imagination by a lot." - Veronika Lozovaya
Scott Radke's sculptures are "darkly sweet". There really is no other way to describe them. There is a certain sweetness to their melancholy expressions despite their macabre and creepy undertones. "There is a time to take critiques but in the end you just have to follow your heart and drop it all. Go within and be still. Listen." - Scott Radke