Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Questions with Alan M. Clark - Artist Edition

I am pleased to have another of my favorite artists grace the virtual pages of my blog. I've admired Alan M. Clark's work in the horror field for many years. In fact, if you've read horror at all, you have surely seen his distinctive covers. Just take a look at his credentials page. I have bought books based on his covers alone, and that says a lot - I'm kind of a stingy bastard! Anyway, much thanks to Alan for not only answering my five questions, but for giving me permission to put up some of his wonderful work!

"I Become My Resting Place" Ó Alan M. Clark

1 – What have you been working on lately?

I have been writing and illustrating The Door That Faced West. It should come out in the fall. The novel will be the seventh I've had published, but only the second one of my own writing that I've illustrated.

"The Loveliest Dead" Ó Alan M. Clark
Medium: Acrylic on board. Size: 12"x18". Matted and framed. Cover for THE LOVELIEST DEAD by Ray Garton. Cemetery Dance Publications

2 – Who’s your favorite artist and/or what’s your favorite piece?

Max Ernst, one of the original members of both Dadaists and Surrealist movements, a great explorer in art.

"In the Night, In the Dark" Ó Alan M. Clark - one of his newest!
Medium: Acrylic on board. Size: 24"x16". Cover art for the Double Down book, Only the Thunder Knows/East End Girls by Gord Rollo and Rena Mason respectively - Journalstone Press

3 – What’s your favorite aspect of creating art?

Discovery – stumbling upon the unexpected while in the creative process. I might set out with a goal, but however tightly I try to manage the production of a piece of art in trying to reach that goal, the unexpected pops up. And, actually, I crave it. It keeps the work interesting and fresh. I've learned to pack the process with opportunities for discovery. Many times, what I discover along the way is better than anything I had preconceived.

"The Halloween Mouse" Ó Alan M. Clark - the cover of a children's tale written by the late, great Richard Laymon
4 – Any good anecdotes about being in the business?

When I was starting out and going to New York to get work, a friend of mine, Jack Daves, a country fellow and a writer of horror, gave me a buckeye and told me to rub it before going in to my appointments. What did I have to lose? I took the buckeye with me as I made my rounds. One of the companies I had an appointment with was the Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club. I rubbed the buckeye, the meeting with the art director went well, I left samples and eventually went home. I got a call from that art director not long after that and he gave me a job. I called Jack to tell him about it. "What's the job," he asked. "I'm to do the cover for John the Balladeer by Manley Wade Wellman," I said. "He's my favorite writer," Jack said, "That's a collection of his pulp stories about a guy named Silver John who fought evil in the Appalachian Mountains with folk magic. The Silver John stories are his best." "Great I said, because they've given me a short deadline. Maybe you can help by suggesting which of the stories I should read to get the flavor." "Yes," he said, "And Robert (A friend of ours from a band called The Shakers) would make a perfect Silver John. We'll dress him up right and you'll have a model." This all worked out well. I did the illustration and got paid. Almost a year later, I got contributor copies in the mail and sat down to read the stories I hadn't read. In one of them, John was talking about carrying a buckeye for good luck. All excited, I called Jack and told him about it. "I know," he said. "That's how I got the idea."

"Long After da Vinci" Ó Alan M. Clark - another of his newer pieces!
Medium: Acrylic on board. Size: 12"x18". Cover art for THE RISING: SELECTED SCENES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD by Brian Keene, published by Deadite Press

5 – What was the most helpful craft advice you've ever received?

I was told by my high school English teacher, "Show, don't tell." I use the advice in my writing, but have learned that it is just as valuable in illustration. Interpretations of one’s art should vary.

"The Pain Doctors of Suture Self General" Ó Alan M. Clark