Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Canvas Chat: Meet Artist Jeremy Spicer

I approached my most recent encounter, with a horror artist, with apprehension. I briefly skimmed his work before we talked about it. I will say it, I was downright terrified. His name is Jeremy Spicer, he runs Germ Spider Designs. Despite his terrifying work, he's pretty down to earth, normal guy. I will admit his  clown pieces are not my favorite. I don't like clowns. In fact, I hate them .Aside from my own thoughts on the subject of clowns and their terror, his work has been influenced by his love of horror movies and many other things.. My favorite piece is his Hello Kitty infected toy, she came out downright horrific. My eyes have been opened somewhat more to the genre as long I can continue to stay away from clowns [regardless of how irrational that is to others]. He also makes some fantastic masks. Check out the interview.

Sorianna Choate: Tell us a little about yourself?

Jeremy Spicer: My name is Jeremy Spicer. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and am currently 26 years old.

I grew up with a fascination with horror movies, which stems from my mother and I staying up later and watching them when I was a child. I was an awkward, quiet child growing up. In fact, until around the age of 20 one could have even called me shy, but that has completely changed these days.

Typically, when people see my horror art, usually two things are assumed to some degree. Either I’m believed to be some crazy, vicious person that hates life and wants to live in his own morbid little world where I go around kicking puppies and burning nursing homes to the ground, or that I have deep emotional issues and need a therapist. I certainly don’t believe either to be true. In fact, I enjoy life. I’m a cheerful, happy guy most of the time. Do I think about morbid, dark things? Indeed I do. There’s no harm in thinking about such things. The harm comes from acting them out.

Sorianna: Is there a specific horror movie that has impacted or inspired you?

Jeremy: Probably the horror movie that impacted me the most as I grew up was American Werewolf in London. To me it was the perfect combination of horror, comedy, and art. The transformation scene alone, as he painfully turns into a ravenous beast, really inspiried me and sparked my imagination.

Sorianna: Does this "American Werewolf in London " continue to be a source of inspiration?

Jeremy: Without a doubt. I always think about what his body and mind were goign through during that transformation, and if I could potentially capture that in my own art for people to ask.

Sorianna: What is Creativity to you?

Jeremy: Creativity, to me, is the spark which differentiates the mundane from the special. Creativity is taking that part inside of you, which normally people wouldn’t experience, and expressing it in a way that they can experience.

Personally, my creativity comes from taking

Sorianna: Tell us about your at style?

Jeremy: I grew up a sketcher. I sketched monsters all through school. I didn’t pick up painting until recently, so transitioning was odd for me. I was told to paint a certain way, and it simply didn’t click. So I did what felt natural to me, not what I was told was right or wrong.

My style changes depending on my mood, but for the most part a great deal of my art falls into a category a friend labeled as “horror pop art”. Bright, liberal use of colors, despite the horror theme. I also do a lot of mixed media where I turn my pieces into 3D art. For example, I have a number of creepy clown paintings where I've attached actual clown noses or hair to make them pop out. Another example would be a gigantic Spawn painting where I strung black chains against his body. I love the idea of taking something and giving it that extra piece to make it stick out, and in this case, literally.

Sorianna: What about Horror in particular draws you in as a subject?

Jeremy: Horror, to me, is a comfort zone. Growing up with it horror movies has made me almost numb to most of the scares. However, I’ve grown to appreciate the idea of making something that frightens or disgusts others. To me, making something that will cause someone’s imagination to go, “Oh, I don’t know what I’d do if that thing were real.” is an achieved goal. Fear, despite what many may say, is something we all secretly like at least to a degree. Why else would we venture into haunted houses or watch a scary movie? If I can plant a little fear seed in someone’s head with my art, I like to think I’m doing my job properly.

That being said, horror is also a very open subject to create with, as so many people find so many different things horrific. Take myself for example; I have selachophobia, the fear of sharks. I know many who have coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. All of these different fears, rational or otherwise can be tapped into just as easily as things that people love. Thankfully, however, what people are scared of are usually a bit more extreme and easier to visually manipulate. More freedom with fear than with love, in my opinion.

Sorianna: Your afraid of sharks, did that stem from an incident or was a movie like Jaws that started it?

Jeremy: You know, I ask myself that a lot. Being of pale, gingery nature, I rarely ever go into the sun, so I know I almost certainly didn't have some sort of early life run-in with a shark. So I can only assume it stems from Jaws, which honestly does frighten me, even to this day. However, it is that very fear that makes me love it as movie, as not very many horror movies can even come close to that sort of reaction to me anymore

Sorianna: Would you do a piece with shark in it or have you done one?

Jeremy: I have done a small piece. And I do mean small. One of the other things I make with my art are palm-sized canvas paintings that I turn into magnets, which I call MagnetFreaks. I did a Jaws-themed MagnetFreak a couple of months back. I kept my reference photo of this particular MagnetFreak as far from me as I could handle. Haha.

I would like to do a larger Jaws painting at some point when I'm feeling more brave, however. I love the poster, especially the color scheme. I really, really do want to paint my take on it.

Sorianna: Do you have any creative rituals or routines you do before you get started working on something?

Jeremy: For my paintings I try to listen to music appropriate to what I am painting. A bloody monster foaming at the mouth? Heavy metal. A ghostly apparition peering back at me? Dark wave. Etc.
For my masks, I generally like to be in a place that is as quiet as possible. I like to constantly try it on throughout the process and stare into a mirror. As crazy as it probably sounds, I give each mask a voice and personality in my head. I find that it helps to shape it.

Sorianna: What is your favorite Medium to work in? Why that Medium?

Jeremy: I use acrylic paint. I’ve always preferred it due to how fast it dries. I simply have no patience for oil paints.

Sorianna: You also make masks, can share with us some about that?

Jeremy: I adore Halloween, which isn’t much of a shock. I would always take my masks as a kid and fiddle with them. I recall a cow skull mask that I once had which I repainted and messed with the jaw so that it would move when I spoke. I’ve always had the bug to make masks. I almost feel more comfortable behind a mask. To me it is almost like I can be an extreme extension of myself depending on the mask, which I normally wear at most of my horror art shows. The fact that I can see the faces of other’s, but they’re left wondering my expression behind my mask intrigues me and makes me feel more secure.

Aside from masks, I’ve also recently started making “Infected Toys”, where I take discarded teddy bears, dolls, and other toys and give them a horrific makeover. They have been a huge hit so far, with numerous Christmas requests going on. I originally started them for a one-off Christmas show, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with making them, and plan to continue doing so.

Sorianna:If you could work in demented toy factory would you?

Jeremy: Work in one Without a doubt. I'd much rather run one, however.

Sorianna: What would you call your Demented Toy Factory?

Jeremy: While I'm sure I'd like to keep Germ Spider Designs or Infected Toys somewhere in the logo/name of the factory, I do like the idea of calling it The Sick House.

Do you have a favorite "infected toy" creation?
--I actually have two. The first was a Christmas gift for my cousin's fiance. It was a large zombie Hello Kitty. I love the way it turned out and plan on making more in the near future, especially after seeing all of the responses it gained.
The other is one of my first Infected Toys I nicknamed Diseasy McBear. I experimented and came up with a way to create wet, leaking tumorous growths under his exposed skin. He'll always have a special place in my heart. Currently, Diseasy McBear is available for purchase at Aphotic Crypt. A fantastic little store which is carrying some of my creations and the creations of other local dark artists.

Sorianna: Do you have any advice to give the many aspiring artists out there?

Jeremy: I do. Always do what feels right to you. I’ve been told in the past that I’m painting “wrong.” Art has no wrong way. Art is up to the artist. Stay true to yourself; because once you stop doing that, you’re no longer an artist, you are simply a shadow going through the motions.

Sorianna: Where can we find your work?

Jeremy: Other than my Facebook art page at , my art can also be seen at which is a wonderful local Jacksonville art group I am in. We show at various venues around town, including Eclipse, Kala, Pomade and Tonic, and numerous other spots. We are constantly putting our artwork in new and exciting places.

Sorianna: Share with us about your one man art business Germ Spider and how you started?

Jeremy: Germ Spider Designs is my escape from the real world. My goal with it is to have a brand that focuses almost entirely on horror, all produced by one person, myself. I wanted to not focus on one medium, but to constantly evolve. I started with just canvas paintings, and then I incorporated hand-painted magnets, adding masks, and now twisted toys. I want Germ Spider Designs to be known as a brand of horror art that is mentioned at least every now and then by locals when horror is brought up. Like a weird toy factory that you never know what will come out of it, but you’re curious to see. Will it be a painting of Jason or Freddy? Maybe a new bloody mask? Perhaps even a teddy bear with eyes that pop out when you squeeze it? Germ Spider Designs, in my mind, is a local brand that you expect horror from, but you never know just what may pop out.

   The idea itself started a little over 2 years ago. As I mentioned before, I was always a sketcher throughout my life. I, however, had never painted before. My Uncle Sam, who had been diagnosed with cancer, began to watch Bob Ross videos and taught himself to paint. He proceeded to paint beautiful landscape paintings for many of us before he passed away. In fact, I received the last one he ever did.

   Upon his passing I was approached by my aunt about any interests I had in his painting supplies, since I was the most artistic in the family. I was hesitant, but I didn’t want to see his stuff go to someone outside of the family. After getting all of his stuff, I slowly taught myself how to paint which much trial and error.
After I gained some interest regarding my paintings I came up with the idea of creating a small brand name, not really thinking much of it at the time. I settled on the name Germ Spider Designs due to many people calling me Germ (too much work to say Jeremy, I suppose) and changing a single letter of my last name to create Spider. I thought the name had a nice ring to it, so I created a Facebook page and… nothing happened. Sure, family members and friends Liked the page, but that was about it. It wasn't until I decided to print business cards and take them to a horror convention we would frequent every year that things would begin to take off.

  Slowly, more and more people started coming to my page. I can’t tell you how good it felt to have people I didn’t know comment on my work. One day while at work I received a message from someone asking me to do a Christmas-themed horror art show. Those people would be Mark and Ashley from Skull and Bones Entertainment ( ) and I didn’t know it at the time, but they were setting me down the path to bigger things. At that show, which I was incredibly not prepared for, I was vending alongside Jerrod Brown ( ), a well-known horror artist who I was a tremendous fan of. I hesitantly picked his brain, as I didn’t think I even had a right to show my art in the same proximity of him. He, however, was incredibly helpful. He gave me so many tips and advice that night. With Skull and Bones backing my art and helping me gain popularity, and Jerrod becoming a friend and giving me great advice, I soon found myself with a horror brand that was starting to get a bit of a following, which still blows my mind. Then, once I was informed about the Le Refuse ( ) art group, they kicked down even more doors that were in my way and further helped spread my horror art.
 cannot express enough how if wasn’t for Skull and Bones Entertainment, Jerrod Brown, and the Le Refuse group, I honestly don’t think I would still be making art to this day.

Sorianna: How has being a professional artist affected your work?

Jeremy: Well, I am currently jobless, so that should say something there. Haha.

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