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Interview: Artist Scott Spillman

THE ART OF SCOTT SPILLMAN

”Scott Spillman is an imaginative illustrator and painter who is driven by an incredible passion for self-expression through art. His works are often noted for their unique style, elegance, and technique. Scott has developed an innovative style that blends precise realism with abstract expressionism. His use of vibrant colors and strong lines make his work an excellent choice for a wide range of projects and purposes. Scott is accomplished in using traditional methods as well as modern technique. Although Scott loves to express his vision through art, he is also adept at creating commercial works and readily communicates the vision of his clientel

Scott began his freelance career working for a myriad of clients. During this time he came to work with a wide range of prestigious companies in both two and three dimensional formats. All the while Scott was investing study in computer artwork and mastering that medium. His client list began to take fruition with the likes of Shells restaurant, Carabbas, Outback, Revlon, and L’Oreal. Since that time this list has grown to include Harley-Davidson, the NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA, MLB, Hard-rock Café, Disney and Lucas Films (Star Wars). He has recently completed work for Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Aero Smith, Megadeth, AC-DC and Britney Spears as well as a number of original works on display in galleries and private collections. Through all of his hard work, the final product is an artist of unchecked talent and immeasurable potential. Scott is a visionary, teacher, and consummate professional, who is no stranger to hard work and devotion. He is dedicated to giving his clients what they desire and create those pieces of art to their level of satisfaction, as well as, his own.”

Hi Scott, How are you?

Scott- Hi Janel, How are you doing?

I am doing good. Thank you.

Tell us how you got started and what made you want to be an artist?

Scott- Since I am a child. My grandmother had some drawings I did from when I was four. I remember when I was a kid there was a Hawaiian Punch commercial. I remember as a kid I got psyched when the commercial came on. When she showed me the drawings, I was like oh my god, those are the characters. I mean, it was a kids drawing but you could see that they were the characters. A lot of kids draw when they are young but the drive to do it has never stopped. There were years when I didn’t do anything because growing up, I didn’t know how to get a job as an artist. The town wasn’t some kind of big city with jobs like that. I would jump back and forth but the passion was always there. I was seventeen and got my first paid job. It was for a mural in a kid’s bedroom. It was “Lady and the Tramp,” you know the spaghetti scene.

Yes. Yes. I do.

Scott- That was my first paid job. Somebody knew I could draw and hired me to do that. It came out great. It wasn’t until… Shit, it was twenty-five years ago I got a job in a little ad agency. That was first job doing artwork. Before that I was working in body shops and every job you can imagine.

What kind of art did you have to do in the ad agency?

Scott- It was on the computer and painting. Once I hand-painted the piece, we would scan it in. I would have to come up with some kind of Christmas thing or something. I would have to hand-paint it and make it look real. I finally got a job in a place… But, before that I was doing a job making three dimensional for places. We had these sculptors that would sculpt life-size things. Whether they were animals or dolphins, or a pirate in ship wheel.  The original pieces and I would paint the original. If it was just the original, that’s what we sold. It if was with a big restaurant or company than I taught the rest of the crew how to paint this over and over again. Then I got a job in VF Image Wear which was a licensed sports company. They had all the major licenses. My last ten years there, we got the Harley license and then I worked on that team, was promoted to Art Director and did that for three years. That was fun, probably the most fun I’ve had in a cooperate job. Eventually I left there and I was doing this on the side. I had a little online store and from there, I’ve been doing that for a year and then doing the job also. Eventually, I wound up only doing this. I joined all these “The Walking Dead” Facebook groups. It kind of grew from there. I was making a living off of that. About six months later, I noticed my sales dying off. That’s when I thought about merchandise. Sure enough, all of my sales went up.

Tell us about the conventions and the Walker Stalker cons?

Scott- I was doing well for a year or so and I started getting into the con market. Walker Stalker eventually featured me. I make all the merchandise. It is a couple of weeks if me just back there, in my little production room. Its takes a lot of my time.

Did you always love horror movies?

Scott- Probably not as much. I am not a giant horror fan but I do enjoy horror. The characters that I’ve painted so far, yes, I am into every single one of them. I see horror fans… THAT are REALLY HORROR FANS. I was doing sea life before I got into “The Walking Dead.” When you saw my work, was it just Horror?

When I first saw the work, it was “The Walking Dead” and yes some of the horror.

Scott- I am only asking because “The Walking Dead” is what I did for the last five years. I just started horror this last year or two. That was because I had one client and she is on her eighth commission from me and every one of them was a horror painting. I had the Freddy Krueger and Frankenstein already. All the other Horror ones are hers. I was painting sea life, I live in Florida and as fast as I could paint them, they were sold. Danai Gurira who plays Michonne, she was going to be at a local con. I was already going to support one of my friends. I thought how cool would it be to do a painting of one of the actors and have the actor sign my painting and hang it on my wall. I did the painting of Michonne, it came out better than I thought it would come out. I printed off twenty paper prints and thought, maybe I would sell a couple in line and we can pay for our lunch or gas? All these people are looking at the print as they are handing them through the crowds. We sold out and we are in line to see Danai Gurira. I just started focusing on “The Walking Dead” characters. I looked at my girlfriend Becky and said holy shit, there is something here.

How did the switch start from “The Walking Dead” to more of the horror-related stuff?

Scott- In “The Walking Dead” world people tell me I am like the official Walking Dead artist even though I’m not. No affiliation with AMC. I was in the documentary with my art for “The Walking Dead.” Now, I am starting over from scratch. Linda reached out and the horror cons don’t know who I am and it is a little frustrating because I’ve spent five years building myself up. I am starting from scratch and its weird having cons featuring me to me not even being able to get into a con.

I do believe “The Walking Dead” fans are so loyal but so is the Horror community. How do you feel about the conventions? The artwork you do is so incredible. The fans seemed to love the work you do. Especially at Monster Mania.

Scott- Thank you. Actually, I needed that. I went to a total different market and people are telling me how good I am. I can appreciate the comments. Even on Facebook, if you look at my stuff. Every time someone comments, I try to go out of my way and just write, Thank you on every single persons post. They went out of the way to say that so I need to return the same comment for the people who are showing support for me and my artwork. I appreciate that.

The work you do and most recently the Chucky doll is insanely detailed. I imagine it is time consuming but it is incredible. What is the process you go through? You have a gift!

Scott- Usually I come up with whatever the character is going to be. Then, I spend a lot of time online and doing researching references. One of the things I always look for are eyelashes. If I can see eyelashes. If I can see eyelashes in the image then most likely the rest of it has the detail that I need. I always focus on the eyes. That’s the most important part to me.

Did you have any professional inspirations?

Scott- Boris Vallejo. He was doing dragons and it was really a take-off from Frank Frazetta. Drew Struzan, who did all the movie posters. I was always a big fan of his too.

Would you ever consider releasing an artwork book?

Scott- Yes, I’ve been talking to Linda about that for about a year. You know, she writes. I figure you could do the writing. On some of my pieces I was thinking about a book. I was purposely taking pictures at the exact same angle, multiple times through the painting. So I figured okay, I could use this as an example one. I would love to do that. There are several artists in the con circuit that have some books out. Jason Edmiston! He is the guy that I am looking at. Amazing work.

What are some of the best moments about conventions for you?

Scott- There is a lot of work involved but what I do enjoy is meeting all the fans. The bonus stuff for “The Walking Dead,” I made friends with most of the cast. I am a fan of the show and every one of these people wound up being incredible human beings. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that.

I was able to meet some of the cast and yes they are incredible.

Scott- Yes. I’ve got tons of respect for them.

They are good people. I think the Horror community will gladly embrace the work you do. You are truly talented and I have never seen work like yours. It is unique and stands out.

Scott- Thank you. I noticed the same attendees going and the same vendors and artists are going every time.

Yes, a lot of the conventions have a faithful following. You get to see the Horror Family.

Scott- Right. I did notice that. A lot of people were coming up to me and they would say, you’ve never been here before? Have you. They know because they have been to the last fifteen of them. You know, that was nice. I did really well at those.

What are you working on next? Are you still working on Chucky?

Scott- So the Chucky is taking me a lot longer. It was traveling and I think Linda had it for a while. I was only painting the Chucky painting at the show. So that’s why it’s taking me so long and I am in kind of a crunch time. I have a HorrorHound coming up and I wanted to have him for the HorrorHound convention. It’s not like I finish the painting and I’m done. I have to finish the painting, get it to my photographer, he usually takes half a week to photograph it. He has to get me the digital file and then I can making merchandise. Then even if I wanted prints I got to send that out and that takes another week. After that I do have a commission for “Candyman” for the same woman. Have you seen my “Avengers” stuff?

I did see that! It is incredible.

Scott- That is done in a totally different style. That is done in a sepia tone colored pencil on tan paper. The reason I did that is, it takes me forty to fifty hours to do a painting. I’m watching all the artists I know, around me which is also my competition… Once a week, I am seeing a new piece by them every week. It’s taking me weeks and weeks to do it because I don’t have forty hours in a week where I am not doing anything.  So, I can spend eight hours here, two hours there to try to get a painting done. I thought, what if I do a different style and then I could get these done much quicker and I did. I got those done in five or six hours and I did twelve of them. They look really cool. On the tan paper you can use the white pencil for the highlights and again I try to focus on the eyes. The same person that commissioned me on all the other stuff, she wants five of the Universal Monsters done in that style. The other thing I am supposed to be working on is for the “Scream” movie. The mask. There is really little time and a lot on my plate. And then to finish off the eighties series.

That will be amazing. I was going to ask you about Leatherface, Pinhead and maybe Dollface, Man in the Mask and Pinup?

Scott- Yes, I have to finish off the eighties series with Leatherface and Pinhead. I am not sure I know what that is? That’s why I’m saying, I don’t consider myself a huge horror fan because you are naming movies I’ve never seen.

Well, if you ever get a chance, watch “The Strangers: Prey at Night” for Dollface, Pinup and Man in the Mask. But the second one because that is the really good one.

Scott- I don’t consider myself a real horror fan because of people like you! For me, I enjoy the mainstream stuff. Like, everything I am working on. I have seen every one of these movies, let’s say, Jason, I’ve only seen the first three “Friday the 13th” movies. What is there like twenty-seven of them?

There’s ten plus the re-make…  (LAUGHTER)

Scott- I am not a die-hard like that. I just want to see a good movie. Right now I am a big fan of Rob Zombie. I really like what he’s doing with those movies.

I love Rob! “3 From Hell” comes out soon! It was great!

Scott- Yeah! “The Devil’s Rejects” and “House of 1000 Corpses.”  I like supernatural movies. Sometimes like the Jason or Michael Myers, you blow the guy up and he’s still coming at you. Where, “The Devil’s Rejects,” I believe you can be driving on the road and someone shoots your tire out and tows your car back to the place and they torture you. I totally believe that is happening.

OMG! Me too! I have heard a lot of stories from a lot of people.

Scott- Right and that’s what I enjoy about a horror film that is believable so I am in it. I am in the movie.

What else is next for you? Will you be attending more conventions?

Scott- Other than Walker Stalker Atlanta, I have Spooky Empire (spookyempire.com/ ) is right after that. That’s in Tampa this year. That’s where I first saw the family mentality. It was at Spooky Empire. The same people and everyone helping one another.

What do you want to say to the fans? To the people who have purchased artwork from you? To the people who are supporting and showing love to you? And what would you say to the new fans?

Scott- WOW! That’s one that stumps me. Nobody ever asked me that. I don’t know, the first thing is the appreciation for the people who bought from me, the people who follow me and support me. I have a massive amount of gratitude and appreciation for every single one of them. I would be working in some shitty job right now if it wasn’t for those people. I could paint all day in my studio but, if nobody is supporting it or buying it, then it means nothing. So, I owe so much to everybody that is dedicated, follows me and supports me. There’s the fans you can connect with. Those people pop up, Melinda who bought my Elvira piece. I really didn’t know her that well. I had met her one time. (At a HorrorHound) She did a favor for me, I had this battery back-up that she took to her room and charged it overnight. She gave it back to me the next day. I am in the middle of doing the painting and she came up and asked me if I was going to sell that? I said, yeah. She was looking at the painting and tears were rolling down her face. I was on my toes trying to comfort her because she’s tall and I am shorter. II had only known her from that day. She was so excited to get the painting. When I heard she passed away, I got so emotional. It was unbelievable. I was crying and I met her one day. That stuff, as far as tying that back into the fans that are out there. Yeah, I guess you can connect with people even more that a family member. At least for me personally.

It is amazing. The Horror community is an amazing group of people. The art, movies, music. It does bring people together.

Scott- To be able to try to have my artwork affect fans that way. That is the ultimate goal. To not just have somebody say you are talented but to have a painting in some way speak to them or move them.

Yes. And even the JIGSAW mug I got from you. That means something to me. It is a long story but it means a lot. When you have been through a lot and you keep fighting and surviving. You find ways to turn something horrible into something good. That is where my, “may your nightmares inspire you” comes from.

Scott- Right. That is exactly it! What you just said. You can feel joy or happiness. That is what you want to do.

It was such an honor to talk to you Scott. You are so talented. Keep doing amazing work and thank you so much.

Scott- Thank you. It was good talking to you.

Thank you! You are so talented.

Scott- Thank you.


www.ScottSpillman.com

www.BleedingArt.com

Scott Spillman (@scottspillmanart) • Instagram photos and videos

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