Horrornews.net (HN): When I look at your art, I’m reminded of the work of Margaret/Walter Keane, Tim Burton, and Japanese anime, yet, at the same time, it has a distinctive style. What influences you the most, in terms of art and pop culture?
Kristen Margiotta (KM): I always find this to be an interesting question. I really believe that everything we are exposed to influences us one way or another, even if it’s subconsciously. I grew up loving scary, creepy, and fun things, and that definitely is translated into my artwork. I grew up being exposed to shows like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, movies like Beetlejuice, Return to Oz; reading books like Scary Stories to tell in the Dark, R.L. Stine, etc.
When I see great art, it just makes me want to start making better art, my way. My husband and I were watching a pumpkin carving contest on TV recently; the carving artistry was absolutely insane. I’ve never seen anything like it. I wanted to start painting immediately. Artists like Marshall Arisman, Brom, Carrie Ann Baade, Laurie Lipton, Mark Ryden, make me want to paint and tell stories better. I really enjoy the tattoo shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink, minus the incredible amount of drama lately. The tattoo artistry is absolutely amazing. I love music and movies. Recently I painted a 5 portrait series of Vincent Price, Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Cooper, King Diamond, and Kiss; artists in their own right who have influenced me and all have one thing in common: they are story tellers who have made their mark, done something different in their genre. These are people I grew up with, loving their stories, whether through song, movies, or literature. This series was a tribute to them.
HN: You blend horror and whimsy very well. Do you think of yourself as a whimsical horror artist or a ghoulish whimsy artist (or neither)?
KM: Thank you. I don’t really focus on the genre of art I do as much as the quality. Most of my work wouldn’t fall under the horror genre, but I do have some darker pieces, like the portraits from my new series. Some of my paintings are more lighthearted than others, but many have that fine line between scary and fun, enough for both adults and children to both enjoy. My painting, “The Demon Queen”, is definitely on the darker side. I can’t do playful and creepy all the time. Sometimes I need to do something different, a bit darker than normal.
HN: Your subjects have ranged from real-life icons such as Vincent Price to fictional characters such as the Mad Hatter. Who has been your favorite subject?
KM: It’s very difficult to choose a favorite of anything for me. I really enjoyed painting Alice Cooper as the Mad Hatter. That’s a recent painting I’m incredibly proud of. My illustrated book, Better Haunted Homes and Gardens, is another favorite. Both of these projects took a great length of time and effort, and were also something new and different for me. Seeing the outcome of both made any challenges I experienced with them all worthwhile.
KM: My paintings tell stories, and the characters with their large eyes and whimsy environments seem to lend themselves to picture books, or even film. I contacted the publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press, who publishes adult fiction and other books in the horror genre and by chance, they had recently opened a Imaginary Books, through which they were publishing children’s books. Jennifer Barnes, one of the owners, created and wrote the story. And from there, I illustrated it. So far, it’s been incredibly well received by both adults and children. I’m very much interested in doing more illustrated children’s books.
KM: I wish I had more time to experiment with sculpture. I enjoy taking my characters and sculpting them in 3D form to give viewers the opportunity to see them in a different format other than 2D, and also for companies or clients that may be interested in the licensing of my characters.
HN: You’re based in Newark, Delaware, and are currently (as of October ’10) showing in Delaware at the Talleyville Frame Shoppe & Gallery; you’re also showing at POP Gallery in New Mexico. How did that come about?
KM: I contacted the POP Gallery in NM, I believe last year, ’09, and they took me on. What a fantastic gallery they are. Wonderful owners, and the artwork they exhibit is incredible. I’m honored to be showing amongst such talented artists.
I’m also a featured artist through C. Emerson Fine Arts Gallery in FL for Aqua Art Miami.
KM: Ah, so many! First one that comes to mind is House on Haunted Hill, original of course. Lost Boys, Nosferatu, Psycho. I love horror films that leave more to suggestion than using in your face gore and torture. The power of suggestion seems more frightening and truly scary than all the gore and torture shown. I utilize shadows in my work quite often for this reason. I’m also a big fan of horror comedy/fantasy films like Beetlejuice, Nothing But Trouble, and Clue.
KM: I have a few projects besides personal paintings. I’m currently painting a commissioned portrait of Danzig, which I should finish this week. I’m working with a local author on redesigning characters and backgrounds to be used for an animated cartoon special, and doing a commissioned illustration for a local company. I’m running out of paintings to exhibit, which is a good thing, so I need to start painting a new body of work very soon, starting with the “The Halloween Queen”.
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