Recently, From Dusk Till Con's own TargetJon had a chance to sit down with acclaimed horror artist, Chris Kuchta, for a few questions on his work, the horror scene, and a few of his favorite things to do as both a fan and a vendor on the convention circuit.
I first met Chris at Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend in 2008 and picked up several of his sepia prints. When I returned to Spooky Empire in 2009, I saw Chris again and went to see what he had new. As I was looking through his prints, he remembered me from the previous year and I’ve been a huge Chris Kuchta supporter since. I currently have over ten pieces and try to purchase something from him every time I see him at a convention. I had the pleasure to speak with Chris recently about his artwork, the horror genre and upcoming conventions.
TargetJon: Thanks for taking time to speak with FDTC today, Chris. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your artwork?
Chris Kuchta: I graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2000. After college, I started to do freelance illustration and in 2004 opened the Kuchta Academy of Fine Art and Illustration teaching classic Italia methods. I really had to learn how to draw; you know get in the trenches and swing at it and because of that it really allowed me to be able to teach. I would describe my artwork as modern illustration with fine art appeal and classic horrors meet modern day.
TargetJon: What got you into art and drawing?
CK: When I was 5 years old, my grandmother gave me a milk crate full of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy and Eerie magazines. She said that I would love them and I sure have. After high school, I got into Rembrandt and more modern art then eventually came back to horror.
TargetJon: What advice would you give for aspiring artists?
CK: Learn your craft . . . do as much drawing as you can . . . look at everything and get better.
TargetJon: So have you always drawn horror related?
CK: When I first started, I was doing comic book samples and portrait art. I really love the horror genre and my first horror portrait was the sepia Frankenstein. My wife was like “Wow” and said that you should look into this and after my first con it really took off from there.
TargetJon: I see a lot of classic horror images (i.e. The Wolfman, Vincent Price, and Phantom of the Opera) in you artwork. Is that your passion? Any plans on doing more modern horror?
CK: I’ve felt that with my art that I have been progressing through the films linearly. I’ve started with the classics then moved through the Hammer horror movies and now onto the modern horror. The next piece that you will see on my site will be a Pumpkinhead piece. I also have pieces coming for Dead Snow, Shockwave and Dr Tom from Day of the Dead.
TargetJon: What has been your favorite pieces?
CK: I really like the new Jason piece I finished. I thought about giving it to my mom for a mother’s day gift because she really likes that piece. Seriously, most prolific artists will say that their favorite piece is the piece you’re working on now. I’m also working on starting to sculpt (Busts & heads) and I plan on selling a limited number at my site/booths.
TargetJon: I love the sepia pieces versus the colored pieces. Which do you prefer and why did you go into color?
CK: I started with the classics and the sepia lends itself to it. The modern horror did not look as good with sepia and I thought it would benefit more from the color. It really depends on the shot.
TargetJon: What was your first convention?
CK: It was Fangoria 2007 in Chicago. My wife purchased a vendor spot for me for Valentine’s Day and people really responded to the art and it took off from there.
TargetJon: What are your favorite conventions?
CK: My favorite con is Cinema Wasteland. I love how the con is set up and will never miss it. It’s a perfect genre show. I also will never miss Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend. I also went to Texas Frightmare Weekend for the first time this year and had a great time too.
TargetJon: At your booth, you have many of your original pieces signed. Do you try and get as many signed as possible? What’s been the best experience with a guest?
CK: Yea I try to get the originals signed. One of the best experiences with a guest was just recently at Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010. I had John Carpenter sign “The Thing” piece I had completed. He said that it was one of the best likenesses of Kurt Russell he had seen.
TargetJon: What do you like to do at conventions that you attend?
CK: I always catch premieres and screenings at cons. I also like to look at new things and see which way the genre is going. I also collect original one-sheets and do meet the celebrities.
TargetJon: What are your top five horror movies?
CK: If I had to pick 5 they would be 1) Phantasm 2) The Thing 3) Exorcist 4) Shockwaves 5) Frankenstein
TargetJon: What is your favorite horror icon?
CK: The Tall Man from the Phantasm films. He was such a unique character and an original film.
TargetJon: Do you sell your originals and what do the prices range? And what about commissions?
CK: Yes I do. The price depends on the piece but typically runs $800 - $1500. I also sell prints of all the originals. I am available for commissions and those are based on each individual piece.
TargetJon: What conventions are coming up for you?
CK: Famous Monster Con, Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend, Rue Morgue, Cinema Wasteland, Horror Realm and Fright Night Film Fest and many more.
TargetJon: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today. Before we let you go, let everyone know where they can get a hold of you if they can’t meet you at the cons?
Chris is definitely a true fan of the horror genre and is a wealth of knowledge. If you see him out at the cons, take the time to go say hello and take a look at his work. You will definitely be impressed.