Weird Writers Recommend Weird Visual Artists

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Jonathan Raab: Trevor Henderson

Trevor specializes in taking real photographs and inserting painted monsters, creating found-footage-style pieces that are iconic and haunting. Visit Trevor Henderson on Instagram. 

Brian Asman: Dano Brown

You can find him on Instagram at @dano_brown. He makes really unique, groovy action figures. If you ever wanted a poseable Michael Douglas from Falling Down, he’s your man. Joe Exotic? Sure. Princess Bride? You betcha. Turd Ferguson, David S. Pumpkins, hell, if you’re looking for fucking Smoothie from the weird-ass NetFlix series Happy he’s got you covered. Visit www.danobrown.com. 

Ellen Datlow: Edward Gorey

I know that Edward Gorey is now a household name, but when I my roommate and discovered his work in the university library where we both worked in 1970 we were flabbergasted. We couldn’t figure out if it was supposed to be a children’s book or what. I started collecting him then and there and have quite a library of his twisted titles. Visit the Edward Gorey House

Brian Evenson: Joel-Peter Witkin

Witkin is one of the most unsettling photographers I know, with his work focusing on death, dismemberment, and people who are outsiders because of their physical appearance. Strange and distorted and sometimes extreme, the images themselves are often manipulated. I think of Witkin as someone who strips away the polite surface of a culture to get at the darkness beneath. He also often does versions of classical tableaux, but in ways that make them monstrous or unsettling. He’s one of the weirdest and most challenging visual artists I know. Visit the Joel-Peter Witkin Studio on Instagram.

Ben Fitts: Jacek Yerka

Jacek Yerka’s paintings have had as significant an influence on my writing as just about any author. He paints physics-defying, logic-bending surrealist scenes that one can stare at for hours. Yerka’s work mostly focuses on cityscapes, but he’s not painting Chicago. His cities are built upon various impossible foundations, such as an airplane, the ocean, itself, a brontosaurus, and more. When I look at Yerka surrealist cityscape, I can’t help but wonder what life is like in that place, who lives there, and what stories lurk within his brushstrokes, and I bet that you probably won’t be able to either. Visit www.yerkaland.com.  

Sam Richard: Michael Bukowski

I love Michael Bukowski’s work so much that I keep hiring him for book covers. Three of the last four Weirdpunk Books releases have his art on the covers. It doesn’t hurt that he’s super fun to work with and a really good person. Not only has his art graced the covers of countless books and metal/punk album covers (he was even the Minister of Propaganda for the Philadelphia anarchist hardcore band R.A.M.B.O. once upon a time ago), but he is also prolific as an illustrator of monsters from a wide variety of sci-fi, horror, and weird fiction sources from Manly Wade Wellman and Margaret St. Clair to Orrin Grey and Anya Martin.

Bukowski’s eye for detail and commitment to his subjects really set him in a class of his own and I’d love to see him get more recognition as a master of weird visual arts. Lethe Press is publishing three books of his illustrations at some point this year, the first of which is currently up for pre-order, so I highly suggest you check that out. You can take a look at his art on the Illustro Obscurum Instagram.

Curtis M. Lawson: Sam Keith 

Sam Keith is probably best known for The Maxx (which is my favorite comic of all time), but he is also responsible for some of the strangest comic art to ever grace the pages of Marvel Comics Presents and was the original artist for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. His style is gorgeous, strange, and iconic. His imagination is wild and unchained. From his depictions of a feral Wolverine being sliced to ribbons by the villainous Cyber during his Marvel tenure to the intensely strange creatures and landscapes in the pages of The Maxx, Keith displays a consistently rich and weird style. Visit Sam Kieth’s blog. 

Emma J. Gibbon: Gregory Crewdson

Over the years, I have been very influenced by Gregory Crewdson’s work. I’ve never seen one in “real life” as it were, mainly in books and online, but his photographs really speak to me, and it is some of this atmosphere I try to evoke in my writing. He does huge cinematic vistas and fantastically lit scenes, but there is often something uncanny or off-kilter about them. They are beautiful and dark. I also like the “characters” he uses in his photographs. He puts in center stage people who we don’t expect to be in the limelight. Visit Gregory Crewdson’s page on Artnet. 

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