INTERVIEW WITH AN ARTIST: Monkey Mouth Talks Pennywise, Horror, and Music Influences

Drawing on everything from pop culture to occult mythology, Monkey Mouth uses his unique design skills to explore the darker side of the human condition. He has a diverse portfolio, spanning everything from skulls and demons to inverted religious iconography to reincarnations of popular film and TV.

But every piece is acutely detailed, made unique by the artist’s unique touch, despite the variety of styles that he plays with. Whether it’s simple black drawings or vibrant, colourful works, he manages to find and exploit the exact details that make the skin scrawl.

We talked to Monkey Mouth to find out about his passion for horror art.

Kirstie: How did you get into art?

Monkey Mouth: I’ve always been drawing and creating stuff with my hands. My big brother is a very talented painter, graffiti artist and tattooer, so it runs in the family I guess, haha.

K: Who were your earliest influences?

MM: I think growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and seeing all the amazing cartoons from back then, He-Man, Turtles, Dino Riders, etc., influenced me quite a bit already back then. I remember drawing page after page with cool laser shooting dinosaurs fighting evil lizard men!

K: Who are your predominant influences now?

MM: I have so many influences it’s hard to name them all really. I really like the work of artists such as Aaron Horkey, Florian Bertmer and Godmachine, to name a few. Those guys each have their own unique and intricate style. An artist like Kim Jung Gi is also a constant inspiration to try and better myself and my technique. If you don’t know him, look him up!

K: You do a lot of commission work. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve been commissioned to do?

MM: I’ve created everything from cover artwork to beer labels, but the most interesting stuff is always the stuff you haven’t done before. Recently I was asked to do a 22 metre wide back drop for the cool guys in Amon Amarth. That was a fun and challenging project for sure!

K: How do you go about crafting pieces to suit a unique project?

MM: Usually people have some sort of idea of what they want, or have seen something I’ve done earlier that they like. I always try and find the best approach to each project. Should it be a cross stitch piece, a digitally painted piece or a stippled piece? Are we going full colour, or keeping it black and white? It’s funny that you sometimes have a clear idea of what you’re gonna create, but sometimes end up going in a completely different direction.

K: You do quite a bit of art inspired by popular culture. What about a new show or story will make you want to give it your own twist?

MM: Definitely the characters, music and overall visual look of a show is what inspires me. Let’s take Stranger Things for example. I watched all eight episodes in one sitting, and directly after that hit the sketch board. I loved the show, the story and the characters so much, that I instantly wanted to put my own spin on it.

K: What did you think of the way that Pennywise’s design has changed?

MM: They definitely made him more scary looking. Tim Curry’s Pennywise was a bit more clown-like, like you know them from the circus, where Bill Skarsgård’s version is a lot more spooky and not so friendly looking as the old one. Overall I think they did a great job, and really made him insane and mysterious.

K: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

MM: Draw, draw, draw. I’m not some super famous Instagram artist with a billion followers, but I have a solid list of great clients I’ve worked with, and most of them more than once, and I think that those working relations are the most important thing as an artist. Connect with other artists, do collaborations, learn from each other. If you wanna be good at something, there’s no easy way to do it. Everybody was bad at some point, but you don’t get better if you give up.

Special thanks to Monkey Mouth for taking the time to speak to us! If you want to keep up with his latest work, you can follow him on Facebook and Instagram. You can also support him by buying his work on BigCartel.

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