An interview with Alex Ghastbrow

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Alexander Ghastbrow is an author, artist, sculptor, and , photographer who resides in Beverly Hills, CA. His works appeal to fans of all things edgy and dark. He is currently working on his novel Wanderlust and editing Clive Barker’s Alphabet a tribute to Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies, illustrated by Paulo Daniel Lorca.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What were you like as a child?

I’m a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid, and I wasn’t a normal kid. I caused all sorts of trouble. And since I was very precocious I tended to videotape everything I did. So there is lots of evidence of my misbehavior.

Did you always have an affection for all things creative?

I’ve always been creative. I can’t remember a day I wasn’t creating something, or inventing some story, or writing a cheesy script to turn into a five minute flick. I loved Horror movies. I loved making people feel something, whether it was laughter or fear. I don’t think I’ve ever scared anyone though. I’m too funny…my humor is dark.

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Who were some of your earliest influences?

My earliest influences were French poets like Atonin Artuad, Baudelaire, Henri Michaux. But as a child I loved reading all the classics of children literature. I especially loved R.L Stine.

What do you think you’d be doing right now if you hadn’t chosen to be an artist?

Well, art for me is a hobby. I do it for fun, as a way to express myself. I consider myself a writer. That’s what I enjoy doing the most. If I wasn’t writing or drawing…I’d probably be a publicist, or an agent. I think I have a talent for finding rarities. So if anyone wants to hire me…I’d certainly do that.

Photo by Austin Young

Photo by Austin Young

Are there any little known things about yourself you’d not mind sharing with our readers?

I love fried food. Fried ice cream. Fried pickles. Fired cookies. Fried bananas. You want to win my heart, fry me some food!

You are also a sculptor, photographer, and author as well as an artist. Do you enjoy more than the other?

I prefer writing because it’s easier for me. Painting requires lots of energy. When I draw I get very exhausted, and the older I am becoming, the more exhausted I am feeling. I have to be able to envision the drawing very clearly I have I am going to dedicate my soul to a piece. On the other hand, writing for me comes very easily. I can write 60,000 words in 8 months if I sit down everyday…I’ve done it several times.

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Who are some of your favorite living artists?

Quentin Blake, Diamanda Galas, Clive Barker, Paulo Andreas Lorca, Marilyn Manson’s water colors are beautiful. Sadly, I think the majority of my favorites are dead…but their alive through their art in some way, aren’t they?

 Why do you think art has always been so powerful through the ages?

Art is love. Art moves. Art is a living thing, without which the world would be worse. The Renaissance artists knew this when they depicted religious scenes in art form, it was a way to worship Christ or the apostles. Art is a breathing beast.

Alex as Satan

Alex as Satan

Is there on thing you’d most like to accomplish in your work that you have yet to do?

I want to write an epic fantasy series. I haven’t done that yet. Perhaps someday if I can find someone to pay me, I can sit down and write it. In the meantime I have to earn a living, so all my writing is coming slowly.

What would you say is your favorite subject to cover in your artwork?

I love to draw faces. I love eyes, and lips and ears. I like to exaggerate them.

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What advice would you give to the artists of tomorrow?

I would pass down the advice that my mentor gave to me. Learn the three T’s: Taste, Talent and Tenacity. Sometimes it’s hard to learn it, because it feels almost metaphysical, like the type of thing a philosopher would say. But this was Clive Barker who said it to me. And at first I didn’t understand it. It’s abstract. But if you think about it long enough. It’s true, it works. You can apply that to everything.

You are also an author. What first led you to try your hand at that?

I’ve been writing stories since I was 10 years old. I would sometimes turn these stories into short movies I would film with my cousins. Perhaps some day people will see them?

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Can you tell us a little about Wanderlust? What can the reader expect from this book?

Wanderlust is a place that exists in my imagination. It’s a word that means “A strong desire to travel.” I have always been in a state of wanderlust, I want to travel to places that, sometimes only exist in my mind. This book is a fantasy book based off of true experiences, for example, my mom’s schizophrenia was the inspiration behind this children’s story. I wanted to explore what it was like growing up with a mother who often times escaped her world via her illness, involuntarily of course. She couldn’t control her illness, people with this illness have no choice. Wanderlust is a journey into that world, that state of being.

You also work closely with Clive Barker. What is it like to get to work alongside him? What is he like as a person?

I’ve been working and collaborating with the Prince of Midnight for many years. He’s shaped every aspect of my creative life. He has given me access to the map of the imagination. I don’t think I would have been able to access certain part of my creative imagination without his guidance.

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You had the chance to work with Paulo as well. Did you enjoy that?

His emergence in my world came as a surprise. I didn’t think I would be working with him, but we found a mutual bond and love for art and imagination that allowed us to form a creative collaboration. We’re working on Clive’s Alphabet book, which has a title now, (Can’t reveal that yet thought!) and he’s so easy to work with. He takes suggestions really well, he listens and he also isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s a great collaborator. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an artist so inspiring and innovative; he has a style that is all his own. He works so well with ink and pen, and brush. In one month I watched him make over 50 drawings….so detailed. We made a little documentary too, you should watch it!

Do you think encouragement is an important asset to have when you work in the creative fields?

Encouragement is very helpful. I try to do that everyday when I talk to other artists. Artists should support one another, regardless of the medium. There are some very cruel people out there who also call themselves artists, and are very successful artists as well who do not support emerging artists. I think that’s unfortunate. Working on Clive’s facebook page we’ve been able to showcase artwork by his fans. I think they appreciate the exposure.

Do you believe in ghosts and such? What are your feelings on the afterlife?

I don’t believe in ghosts. As for an afterlife. I might be a plant, or a fly…or a maggot.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on editing Clive Barker’s Alphabet and doing some design work for that. It’s going to be amazing!

I’m also compiling all of Clive Barker’s poetry. I’m digging through everything so we can have a definitive collection. Not sure what we’re going to do with that yet.

I’m also working on finding a publisher for my own novel. I’m a first time author, so it’s going to be a long hard road to get my work read by people. I just want people to have fun when they read my work. It’s not Horror. I write children’s fantasy. I know some people think I would write Horror because of who mentored me, but that’s not what I do. I want to explore the fantastical world of magic and fantasy…

Anything you’d like to say before you go?

Stay tuned…I have such sights to show you! Wink! Bwahahhahahhaha!

For more examples of Alex’s work please see The Artwork and Photography of Alexander Ghastbrow.

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