Spooky, bizarre, horrifying, chilling and sinister… the things that make your pulse quicken, that make your heart skip a beat and your breath catch in your throat.
Almost everybody, it seems, loves to be scared. What is it that makes it so? The adrenalin rush? The images it provokes? The gooseflesh on the arms, and the feeling of acute sensitivity to surroundings? It is celebrated with gusto in the movies, literature and the arts whatever the answer is and it was with this in mind we made contact with our special guest tonight.
Variously described as;
”a tour guide through the badlands of the imagination.”
“[having] a truly professional demeanor and thankfully, a wicked sense of humor.”
“a brilliant web designer. He has both the artistic eye and the technical know-how, an excellent and rare combination.”
…and “the best damned horror illustrator on the planet”
The list of awards and honours stacks up equally impressively, honours and professional duties such as;
DEATHREALM MAGAZINE AWARD WINNER: BEST ARTIST 1995
Art Show Director for Flashback Weekend, Chicago, IL, 2006
Art Show Director for World Horror Convention 2005, 2006, 2011 & 2013
Art Show Director for HorrorFind Weekend, Baltimore, MD [2006-2008]
It gives us great, and unique, pleasure to present a Special Edition Chat with dark artist extraordinaire Chad Savage.
RVL: Good evening Chad, thank you so much for agreeing to share this time with us, we thought we might have scared you away after we got through with Lady A?
CS: Thanks for having me. You’d be surprised what it takes to scare me away… or, hey, maybe you wouldn’t!
RVL: After reading your bio, and might I say it is quite an amazing one, there are probably very few involved in the dark culture who haven’t heard of Chad Savage and Sinister Visions. To help our readers get to know you a bit better, how would you describe Chad Savage?
CS: Wow, no softball question to ease into this, eh? OK. In a nutshell, I was the kid who inexplicably loved Halloween more than Christmas, or anything else, for that matter. By “inexplicably” I mean there’s no accounting for it – I have a lovely younger sister who was raised by the same loving, religiously conservative, reasonable parents that raised me, but for some reason I was wired from the word Go to love monsters.
Now take that fact and add over 40 years, and you can start to imagine what you might wind up with. My love of dark things has only strengthened each year since I was old enough to trick or treat. At this point, it’s exponential.
RVL: Now, for “that” question, the one that is perhaps lurking in the back of everyone’s mind …. Do you identify as a modern living vampire?
CS: I’ve been involved in the modern vampire scene pretty much since there’s been one (starting in the mid-80’s); I’ve been involved in some amazing events and taken part in some truly unique opportunities; I’ve role-played and spent many years wearing custom fangs for fun and, when I was a younger and less cynical man, perhaps I fantasized about What It Might Be Like…
But no, I don’t. I find the subject endlessly fascinating and certainly find much to love (and even identify with) in the archetype, but am I one? No. I’m just spooky.
RVL: Quote: “Sinister Visions inc. has been involved in the graphic arts, in one form or another, since 1987.”
Can you tell us what pops up as being the greatest challenge for you as an artist and did that challenge change the way you approach graphic design?
CS: The question suggests a particular project or commission, but in reality, the biggest challenges that have come along have been less tangible: How to find enough work to keep food on the table? How much does one charge for one’s work? How to know when the promise of future fame and fortune in exchange for services now is completely bogus? Stuff like that. The answer to that last question, by the way, is ALWAYS.
Further, any truly challenging Thing to come along in your life will, by its nature, change the way you approach things in the future by virtue of how you solve the challenge. If not, you’re doing it wrong.
RVL: You live in an area that is well populated with commercial large format digital print media. Have you dabbled in billboard art? Also, with the explosion of social media and advertising via the computer, what are your thoughts about this type of medium in advertising?
CS: I haven’t dabbled; I’ve done it for many of my clients. Large format printing evolved so quickly over the last 5 years that it outpaced the desktop computer’s ability to produce it – I had to change my pricing structure to allow for how long it takes to create, open, save and transfer such files, because they’re gigantic! Thankfully, printers are coming up with more reasonable file specs and I have a more powerful computer now.
Social media is part of my daily routine, and something about which I advise and counsel many of my clients. I often liken Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, et al to the elements of a Swiss Army Knife. Individually, each has its use; collectively, they make for a far more effective arsenal of tools.
RVL: Both you and Alex are involved in endeavours related to “dark” arts (sorry Professor Snape!) Do you ever “brainstorm” projects together, or help each other flesh out an idea for your individual work?
CS: Oh, Alex is very much my sounding board when I get stuck on something and need a second pair of eyes on it, and she pulls no punches with her opinion, thankfully. We also have collaborated on many, many projects and events together. As one hell of a marketer and promoter in her own right, she has the added benefit of being able to bring Sinister Visions into the marketing mix, should she need to. Wow, look at me tooting my own horn!
RVL: Apart from the inimitable Chad Savage, have you any favourite artists that have perhaps influenced your work?
CS: Oh good lord yes. H. R. Giger, Clive Barker, Brom, J. K. Potter, Joel-Peter Witkin, Chet Zar, Eric Pigors, Joseph Larkin, Gary Pullin, Basil Gogos, Alan M. Clark… I could list names for paragraphs.
RVL: In our recent ‘chat’ with your lovely lady wife Alex she said, “I don’t relax that often. There is always something fluttering in my brain and sometimes it is very difficult to turn it off.” Does that happen to you too or do you have a “goof off, wind down” plan that keeps you sane?
CS: As my schedule allows, I will occasionally take a night where I deliberately distance myself from anything with a screen smaller than the TV, but that doesn’t keep stuff from working itself out in the back of my brain. As a family, we like to go out to dinner a lot – it’s a way for Alex and I to get out of our own environment a bit, connect over a meal and spend time with our daughter without work-related distractions.
I am extraordinarily lucky to do something I love for a living and, further, I get to do it from the comfort of my own home. So while I may not “relax” very often, by the same token, I spend most of my time doing something I enjoy.
RVL: A great deal of your work revolves around a Halloween theme, do you have a favourite ‘Halloween’ character, witches, goblins, pumpkins, ghosts, zombies, werewolves? And what would you say is your all time favourite Halloween movie?
CS: Oh, jack o’ lanterns, hands down. I founded the Cult of the Great Pumpkin, after all. Favorite Halloween movie: Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat!
RVL: Have you ever touched on digital animation in your art to create promo’s for your clients?
CS: Only a little via Flash, and it isn’t true animation – it’s tweening (having objects visually progress between a starting point and an ending point). I am no animator.
RVL: An interesting quote from your website tells us that, “Chad Savage was a dark artist from the moment his pudgy little hands were able to set crayon to paper.” Probably, at some point we were all there, when did you decide that art was going to be your serious pursuit in life?
CS: You know, it was so ingrained in me, there was never a conscious decision. It was always just a given that my future would center around art/design. Again, I am a lucky man, in that I came from an artistic family on my father’s side (dad was an architect and draftsman/designer, grandfather was a formidable artists in multiple media), and so my entire family was always supportive. I know many artist/designers whose families wanted them to get a degree in something else so they could get a “real job” upon graduation – I never had to contend with that negativity, thankfully.
RVL: Without giving away any “secrets”, what did you do before Sinister Visions got up and running as a business?
CS: For years after I graduated college in 1991, I slung coffee as a barista. A design firm took a chance on my deliberately unorthodox resume in 1996 and I got my first professional graphic design job doing pharmaceutical packaging and trade journal layout. Then I moved to Chicago in the late 90’s and did courtroom trial presentation graphics for a bit, then moved to another company and did general graphic and web design for a year or two. By 2001, due to a variety of circumstances, I struck out on my own full-time as Sinister Visions, and that was that.
RVL: What’s in the future for Chad Savage professionally and for Sinister Visions? Is there a “five year plan”?
CS: Death and Divorce taught me the value or, more accurately, futility of Having a Plan, so the goal is to just keep expanding the client base and quality of work. I’m already doing what I love, so why mess with that?
RVL: Thank you very much for your time Chad, it has been a delight to have been able to know you and Sinister Visions a little better. We wish you all the best of luck with your future projects and efforts.
CS: I’m flattered by the attention! Thanks for having me. Anybody wishing to further explore my work can visit http://www.sinistervisions.com for the design side of things, or http://chadsavage.com for my artwork.
From campfire tales of folklore millennia old to Hollywood’s 2012 offerings The App Killer (http://www.movieweb.com/movie/the-app-killer), Silent Night (http://www.movieweb.com/movie/silent-night) and The Collection (http://www.movieweb.com/movie/the-collection) horror is one of our favourite pastimes, spookiness, eeriness and the bizarre amongst our favourite fare. It’s a genre as old as mankind and one that has provided countless actors, writers and artists the opportunity to pursue their careers lucratively. Other styles, genres and fads come and go but the primal darkness that lives at the edge of our collective consciousness is never far from encroaching on our daily thoughts.
Our guest today, Chad Savage, is a leader in his field, an artist much sought after and a person who can truly claim to be blessed by being able to turn his first love into his career. His is definitely one of THE names to remember in the field of horror art and if you have a function or event coming up that you want promoted or art work done for you could do far worse than have “the best damned horror illustrator on the planet” in your corner.
Copyright Chad Savage/ Sinister Visions Inc and RVL 2012
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