One of my favorite things about being an illustrator (especially working in horror) is meeting others like-minded souls. Their passion and dedication to the genre is inspiring and more often than not, they happen to be some of the nicest people around. Kevin Spencer is one of those guys. While we’ve never met in person, I consider Kevin a good friend and as you’ll see, an incredible artist. Check out my interview with Kevin below.
Hey Kevin, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. First, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 33 years old, married with a wonderful wife and kick-ass four and a half year old son and a few dogs. I hail from New Jersey and as we speak am packing up to move back after a 2 year hiatus in coastal North Carolina. I am a huge music, art and film fan as well as a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Other than creating some amazing artwork, what else do you enjoy doing? Any interesting hobbies or activities?
Thanks for the kind words. I love watching horror films and enjoy golf, which I got into a few years ago. Beyond that I do a little oddity and toy collecting but that’s about it – I have a really hard time relaxing so I don’t really do much besides work, art and hang with my family.
What have been some of your more memorable projects?
This past year I have been able to collaborate with some folks that I’ve wanted to work with for a while, so that was huge. I did illustrations for the book The Darkest Corner, which was written by a good friend of mine Justin Hamelin and although the release was limited and frustrating due to some things on the back end with the publisher, we had an absolute blast working on it together… we’d been talking about doing something together for years so finally pulling the trigger on that was awesome. Also, for the past 7 months now I’ve been doing the cover art for a really cool Horror magazine called Sanitarium. Imagine Reader’s Digest but with all horror short stories. (http://sanitariummagazine.
Lastly, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a few podcasts – The Forgotten Flix Podcast (www.forgottenflix.com) which I’ve done the show art for off and on for the past few years and I also designed a logo for The Screamcast Podcast (http://www.thescreamcast.
I also have a few pretty big things in the works for next year but none are to the point I can mention yet…
Sounds exciting man, be sure to keep us posted!
Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of horror artists. It seems that quite a few are self-taught. Is this the case with you, or do you have any traditional art training?
I was always into art. Always very into the darker stuff too, like horror and Science Fiction. In school, I would typically be found in the art room (even when I was supposed to be in math or science class). After high school, I went to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where I got a degree in Animation. After that I was shot art-wise and stopped drawing altogether for about 5 years until the itch came back.
I really enjoy seeing your “process” from gathering reference to initial sketches, to the finished project. As an artist, what do you get out of showing us this?
Thanks, that means a lot… and inspires me to get the 100+ process photos I have on my phone off and posted online. The answer is kind of a self-indulgent one I guess… I post them because I like seeing other artists do it. I like the process. I like seeing what the artists are thinking as they work… I eat that stuff up, I’m actually kind of obsessed with it. You can learn so much about an artist from the way they operate and the most amazing thing is that there is no right or wrong way. So many of other people’s “process” stuff blows my mind because it’s so unconventional and it would never be the way I would have done it. Half the time I am more interested in that than the final product. So I guess that’s why… I feel like maybe showing the process of what I do connects with somebody or inspires a different way of thinking… At least I hope so, that would be pretty cool.
Are you ever hesitant? I rarely give the “work in progress” updates, I only want the audience to see the finished product and I feel like what you do is very cool. Brave even.
I am always hesitant. As I am sure you can understand there is a lot that goes into showing art… It honestly freaks me out. I force myself to do it as a way to cope with my being a generally introverted person. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve posted and then quickly deleted. Sharing my work scares the shit out of me because it’s so personal… and sharing anything – writing, art, singing, especially these days, opens you up to the possibility of being slaughtered by internet trolls and people who get off on ripping into others. So yeah, always hesitant, always afraid… but always trying to get past it too.
My biggest thing is I don’t ever want to think I could have pushed harder with my art. I want my knuckles to always be bleeding… I’ll never be the best or even close to it but I always want to be known as the guy who never stopped trying and always left it all on the table.
That’s awesome man. Your dedication certainly shows in your work. The detail you put into some of your stuff just blows me away.
What would be a dream project for you? Is there anything that you’ve just been dying to do?
I have been going back and forth with a friend for a few years now on several potential projects that are always set up to be so much fun but something always pops up… We are waiting for word from a cover artist for a particular project that I am super passionate about the source material for which would include me illustrating the book and every day I hope it’s the day I get the call with the green light… I can’t say more now but I am hopeful and working with this person is certainly on my bucket list.
Sounds like an exciting project. Again, please keep us posted!
Now, in honor of Halloween, let’s of back in time a bit. What was your favorite childhood Halloween costume?
I believe I was between the ages of 4 and 6 and my Grandma made me a Kermit the Frog costume from scratch… While the costume is long gone I actually still have the pattern she used. Aside from that, the standard Batman and Superman costumes were always good fun too.
What scary movie had the greatest impact on you as a youngster?
Pet Sematary, It and Child’s Play were among the ones that spring to mind. Probably mostly because they were the first ones I remember seeing and they were all pretty powerful in terms of turning me onto the genre.
What was, or is your favorite Halloween candy?
Kit Kats. No hesitation.
As an avid toy collector, I’m always curious, what was your favorite childhood toy or game?