All fans, worshipers of real Lovecraftian horror, let’s come here now! I'm sure you've seen many vision drawings and interpretations of this brilliant American writer, quantities of effigies of Cthulhu, crazy Azag Thoth, Yog Sothoth, and other creatures. Maybe you don’t know, some of these drawings come directly from American Paul Carrick, especially his painting of Cthulu belongs to the most famous ones in the world. It is therefore a great honor for us to introduce you this man and bring you closer to his work. Moreover, part of his drawing decorates the graphics on our Necrosphere webzine. Cooperation with Paul was great, just a few minutes were needed to react to the request for an interview and after sending questions, the answers were in our mailbox perhaps in 24 hours! So who likes really dark, chilling and scary art painting, he definitely should write Paul Carrick name into his subconscious.
Greetings, could you a little introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello and thank you for this nice opportunity! I am Paul Carrick, artist and illustrator from Boston in the U.S... I studied art in Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, and have gone on to create artwork for role playing games (such as Dungeons & Dragons), collectible card games, children's books, CD covers and just about everything in between. Art inspired by the writing of H.P. Lovecraft has become a specialty of mine.
In which period of your life have you discovered a talent to draw? Have you also participated in some contests or something similar?
My father was an artist, and much of my family was artistic in one way or another. I've been drawing and creating as long as I can remember! I've been in a few contests over the years, but it's not a focus of mine. Art is so subjective, and if winning is the reason to make a piece of art, it can change the quality of the creation process.
Your work is directed to, I would say, a dark side of being, etc. Was it always so?
Some of my earliest memories of drawing involve dinosaurs and monsters; I have always enjoyed creatures from other worlds as well as our own bizarre life forms on this planet. Artistically speaking, I've gravitated towards dramatic light and shadow - so if you combine that with monsters I suppose it's hard to avoid the outcome. So, though there is definitely a lot of darkness (as in lack of actual light), I think it comes more from a place of curiosity rather than negativity.
What drawing techniques are you using and which are your favorite?
I prefer traditional media over digital when possible, though I find the computer to be a very useful tool in designing the artwork. For years I had been using acrylic almost exclusively, it's a very forgiving medium and it dries very quickly - both good things when doing work with deadlines. However, the way I like to use it makes the art very shiny and that made it very hard to scan and reproduce. I recently have started experimenting with casein, one of the oldest known types of paint (milk protein paint) - it dries very matte and can achieve some things that acrylic can't. I have to approach the process differently, and I think it's a good exercise to change ones method occasionally in order to keep things feeling fresh.
It is quite evident in your work you are influenced by thy native H. P. Lovecraft. When have you discovered this writer and what were your impressions after reading first stories?
I first learned of him through the role playing game ("Call of Cthulhu" by Chaosium Inc.). The game was so great that I had to know who this Lovecraft guy was; most of my initial reading took place right in Providence - sometimes only mere blocks from where the stories took place. I found the writing very evocative, he can build up an enormous amount of suspense and curiosity, the writing style is very thick and atmospheric, and he is excellent at conveying a sense that exceeds the ancient and vast.
Do you draw most often drawings influenced by Lovecraft? Is it a challenge to draw some unknown entities, which were described only verbally in the books?
I guess once I started creating art for the game, people started to become more aware of it - so I got asked to do more from other people. It wasn't so much of a plan to get to this point, it just sort of happened and now I put some energy into continuing it. Lovecraft's creatures are often quite challenging, and I think that's what makes it interesting. Some are heavily described (like an Elder Thing from "At the Mountains of Madness"), and some others are very vaguely designed. The futility used to bother me, but that futility turned into a liberating feeling because it will be impossible to match everyone's mind's eye - I might as well enjoy myself. I am fascinated by the variety of other artists' interpretations.
Have your drawings been used in some publications, books, or book covers? What do you consider as your greatest peak, or success till now?
Yes, most of them are commissions from publishers, so they have been printed in books or other products; I've been doing this since about 1993. I also do private commissions; sell prints and even a statue of Cthulhu. I'm not sure what my greatest peak is, though I am usually most excited about what I am currently working on at any given time.
Do you know also other painters who are focused on similar visions as you? Whom do you take as your idol?
I do, there are a number of Lovecraftian artists out there, and I’ve met a handful of them so far. There are many artists out there that I enjoy or would even wish to collect, but they really don't represent where I want to go with my own art. I used to feel differently, but when my work started resembling theirs I found it to be very unsatisfying. I'd rather see where my own unique path will take me.
Where anywhere do you take inspiration for your artworks from? Are there included also movies, or even personal visions and dreams?
I think much of my art comes from my own imagination, a stream of consciousness of sorts. I guess 'daydreams' is the closest way to describe it. I might have a rough sense in my mind, but nothing really takes shape until I start drawing. I don't even like to plan out too much because I want to be surprised as well.
How often do you draw? Can you make a living with your art? Do you have any specific dreams in painting?
I usually do something art related every week, whether it's sketching painting or something with sculpture. This is my primary source of income, but it is a challenge! Though I like illustration, I think it would be nice to take things in more of a fine art direction where my art is even more from my own imagination and less tied to other people's ideas. I've had some gallery experience and would love to have more of them, because as an illustrator there is far less interaction between the creator and viewer.
Which drawing on H. P. Lovecraft, Cthulhu, Necronomicon theme is most perfect to you as from you so from some other author?
I'm not sure I understand... which is my favorite piece? If so, this is a recent favorite: wizard
Do you take all those things you create even more personal? I mean faith, magic, or is it just Horror fiction for you?
I grew up in a very atheistic environment; it was only until adulthood did I start to explore things on my own. It can be hard to shed one's upbringing, but I have tried to keep an open mind to other ideas. I am quite fond of the 'visionary artists' who draw from dreams and explore internal ideas - one has to wonder where they really come from? Do artists channel these images from some other place? At the very least I think there is a meditative and psychological aspect, creating a painting can be a bit of a struggle with one's self and I think striving to make it less of a struggle makes way for more harmony in one's life. I realize that my art is often categorized with that of horror, but from my own perspective I think it is more about wonder and curiosity in things that are radically different than ourselves. Many fear the unknown, and I think that element of unknown in my art can be unsettling to some. I think that reaction tells us more about the viewer than the creator.
What music do you listen to in your free time? Does it have an impact on your production as well? Did you paint cover artwork of any CD for any particular band? Personally, I see your work suitable for Death Metal bands :D
Though I enjoy a variety of music, much of my interests are in rock and mostly metal - especially if it is guitar oriented. I guess it is the powerful feeling it gives me, and perhaps the effect of the rhythms is much like the hypnotic effect of a tribal beat. Something about the voice of a guitar really speaks to me and gets my imagination flowing. I've had the pleasure of creating a few covers for CDs so far and would love to have more chances. For death metal there was Denial (MEX) "Catacombs of the Grotesque", they are really nice and supportive people and their enthusiasm really fueled me. That led to Mythos (FIN) "Pain Amplifier", which was also a lot of fun - and very educational as well. Working for musicians has been great, I think it is because they are artists as well and are sympathetic and appreciate the artistic process.
What are you going to commit in the near future? What are your future plans with your art?
I have a stack of commissions both private and not, including a couple game covers and more recently some art for Lovecraftian fiction - which is a new branch for me. Beyond that, I think I'd like to branch out a bit with things more from my own imagination and test the waters to see how it is received. I think this can be difficult once people know you to do a certain thing and come to expect it from you. But, I think it is important for an artist's growth to keep exploring and experimenting.
Ok, it would be all from me, many thanks for this interview, I am very pleased we could commit this great interview for Necrosphere webzine. If I forgot something, you have the space; wish you all your dreams come true in future. Kakkamu Selah.
It was a pleasure and an honor, thanks for this opportunity!
~ Paul 16. 3. 2011 Mortuary