After man hours of surfing Tumblr while trying to work out what my gender was and what pronoun was best to use to describe my inner kin, I found an amazing Tumblr, ingeniously titles The Hairs On the Back Of Your Neck, and I was instantly hooked and started finding out more about the artist Mr. Brian Coldrick, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for me and is therefore popping my interview cherry for this blog.
So tell me something unique about yourself….
Oh god, why is it taking so long to think of something?! I had my first birthday in Tanzania? That’s hardly unique, unexpected perhaps.
You make some amazing creepy artwork, what inspires you? Do your pieces ever unnerve you?
Around the time I started the Behind You stuff I had been reading lots of internet real life accounts of spooky happenings. Partly as some form of research for whatever I was about to start doing, but mainly as an indulgence. Generally most storytelling has some familiar format or beats in the narrative to be effective. This is by no means bad as these thing work but they can become recognizable and expected. I found a lot of the better spooky accounts to be formless and therefore exciting. Perhaps they’re not fully satisfying as a result but they can reach a strange no man’s land that can unsettle me far more than a well written formulaic ghost story.
As for my own stuff unnerving me, thankfully I tend to find them all cute or lovable by the time I’m done. Hopefully if I revisit some in 10 years I might be surprised by the things I’ve forgotten.
What is your creative process like?
Recently I’m like molasses with the spooky Behind You stuff. I like to have a fairly solid hook or location before I start and the more I do, the harder it is to find another beginning. When I hit on a start point, I then tend to look at a lot of google image searches or pinterest boards. I’ll sketch up a rough in photoshop, get the layout right, then print it out and use it as a guide to draw finished pencils. No inking, I like scratchy lines. Scan that in then lots of photoshop coloring and layering until I give up.
I can understand the love of toast, what’s your favourite topping?
I’m partial to honey, preferable served with a large hunk of cheese. Apparently this is not considered normal or appetizing.
Do you have a favourite piece or collection?
When I was starting out I did an illustration for a Dublin magazine based on the Blondie song Atomic. I don’t know if it’s the best piece but I always remember it as a step in the right direction. It’s great when you make something and think “this is good, I should do more stuff along the lines of this”.
Have you had to deal with copycats? What’s your preferred method?
I think people have lifted lo res images of my stuff to sell before. I forget where. That’s kind of gross and shameless. But if people wanted to copy any of my stuff that would be kind of awesome. Copy away! I’ve definitely attempted to copy lots of other illustrator’s style that I liked; it always turns out somewhere else.
What is it about sloths?
I saw a documentary about sloths ages ago as a teenager and they made some permanent impression. You didn’t see them as often as you do these days online. They’re seemed to thread some amazing line of cute and creepy and human-like and ridiculous. I used to doodle a long necked sloth with dead circle eyes. Then I made a giant sloth teddy bear. Then I started painting them. Sometimes I regret choosing something famously slow and lazy as my spirit animal.
Any tips for young artists?
Draw all the time. Draw for fun but then also draw stuff that’s hard. Try to copy/steal stuff you like and see if you can make it work. If you have some dream project in mind start actually working on it, rather than daydreaming about it. And generally don’t work for free. If you decide you want to work on something that’s up to you but if someone approaches you to work for no pay then tell them politely “No”.
Having moved from Dublin to London where do you draw more inspiration from?
I should get out and see more of London/England/The UK but it’s cold outside and my computer has the internet. I do love when I get off my arse and actually make it into a museum or gallery in London though. There’s a wealth of curious museums. The John Soane museum and the Hunterian museum are across from each on Lincoln’s Inn square and range from the Architectural beginnings of the British phone box to dissected babies in jars. Fun times!
What is your favourite medium, or is it mixed all the way?
Mixed all the way as long as the mix is pencil and photoshop. I used to be good at inking things but I seem to have forgotten how. Oil paints are great to play with but they take ages to dry and there stink out where ever you use them.
What spurred you on to make your art move?? Do you have any aspirations to make animated movies??
Total theft. I saw other illustrator’s animated gifs and thought I want to do that. Specifically folks like Rebecca Mock and Sachin Teng but there are loads of others that I can’t immediately recall. As an end result they add an extra punch to the Behind You stuff. Conversely, I’ve heard from folks that now they stare intently at the non-animated ones waiting for something to happen!
Being a special snowflake with a vivid imagination I always imagine sound effects with your pieces, do you have any plans to add sounds into your artwork?
No, I don’t know how I might pull that off. Hmm…. [cogs whirring]
All of Behind You would just have The Drop by The Haxan Cloak droning in the background, that’s creepier than anything I’ve ever drawn.
Have you always aspired to be an artist?
I guess so. I always liked to draw as a kid. I think everyone draws as a kid. I just kept it up and tried to make money out of it to avoid getting a real job.
If you could make a feature film what would it be about?
Oh wow! I don’t have a secret script waiting to be filmed unfortunately. I suppose it should have some supernatural elements. And I like heist films. And locked room mysteries. A supernatural locked-room heist film. With a talking cat.
What is your studio like?
It has been a lot worse but it probably deserves to be called messy. It just accumulates piles of paper and clothes and plates and mugs and letters. I work from home and my studio is in the spare room so it can be a dumping ground for things that have nowhere else to go. Henry the Hoover lives here. As does a folding chair, a heater, a washing basket. We’ve lived here for almost a year and a half, and I’ve only managed to hang one thing on the wall so far. It’s a print of one of Piranesi’s Carceri drawings. I obviously thought I was going to make the place all classy, then Henry appeared.
I recently purchased one of my favourite pieces from your Society 6 account (https://society6.com/briancoldrick) , it was hard as there are so many i adore, it’s the library piece as I love libraries but they can be spooky places, can you tell me more about this amazing library piece?
That’s a good example of how I put together one of these things. It just started with the idea that libraries are creepy so I should set one in a library. I tried to work out how to show either side of a bookcase to show an unaware victim on one side and a spooky monster on the other. In the end I cheated by just making the monster really tall so he poked over the top of the bookcase. I think at the start my mind went to libraries I’ve know like the fairly mundane (but excellent) one at NCAD in Dublin. But after typing library into pinterest suddenly I was adding spiral stairs and detailing.
I think the old woman was a direct nod to Ghostbuster’s opening scene.
As is often the case the monster didn’t get tied down until late in the day. I made it blind (well, eyeless) because that just seemed very frustrating for a creature surrounded by books. I toyed with the idea of animating it slightly so it was ripping pages out of the book it couldn’t read but it turns out animating hands and falling paper is hard! Ripped pages also adds an equally antagonistic relationship between the Librarian and the Eyeless chap.
I’d be kicked out of armature movie blog academy of I don’t ask you to name 10 influential and/or favourite films.
I guess some of these are influential, some are favourites, rather than purely a “Top Films Ever”
The Third Man,
Dune, I know it’s hardly a masterpiece but I LOVE the production design and costumes and revisit them often.
The Devil Rides Out, The most fun of all the 60s/70s UK horror stuff. Christopher Lee as the good guy! THE GOAT OF MENDES!
All of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (is that cheating?) All of his films have an amazing sense of place.
There will be Blood, One of my best ever solo visits to the cinema, afterwards I went home and immediately started listening to the soundtrack repeatedly
Akira, definitely one of the films I’ve watched the most
The Bicycle Thieves, I remember watching this in a film studies class and it totally got its hooks into me.
The Man with No Name trilogy,
The original Star Wars trilogy, weirdly Return of the Jedi was the first engrained in my brain, I think I saw it really young, I love all of the Jabba’s Palace stuff.
Yojimbo, I remember watching this on tv as a kid and at the end of the film the announcer said they’d be showing Sanjuro at the same time next week. Well the same time next week I was staying in some country hotel with my folks. I went to the tv room but there was a woman already there watching something else. I was too awkward to ask to change the channel. Then another lady came in and said switch over they’re showing a Kurosawa movie on the other channel. That woman is my hero.
Lawrence of Arabia,
Wild at Heart, again not Lynch’s best but maybe the first of his films I saw (after Dune)
Ok that’s enough!
You can find more of Brians work on his facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/briancoldrickartist, and he tweets here https://twitter.com/SlothHoffman. And please check out the amazing range of items at the Society 6 page and get yourself something unique and it’s really affordable.