An Interview with & the Art of Frederick Cooper

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Artist Frederick Cooper produces some of the most vivid portraits in traditional and digital format. Fans of his work know his work heavily features the horror icons of yesterday. 2020 saw the release of his long-awaited book, Vereor Nox: The Monster Art of Frederick Cooper, which features 152 pages of his most beloved works of art.

What was it about horror films that first sparked your interest early on?

Really now, why does anyone like anything? It’s difficult to know how it spoke to me. I suppose it was initially my brothers making it a part of my life but really I thankfully grew up in one of the most creative periods of the horror genre but I owe my interest to that the most. The atmosphere, the feeling it gave even after reading it, it was all electric. I would find old time radio shows to listen to like Arch Oboler’s Light’s Out and it was magical. Most everything of the genre was drenched in creativity and character.

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What do you remember most about seeing the films with your brothers at an early age? Do you remember what you very first memory of the genre is?

My first memory is definitely both of my brothers all excited. I love them. I was the youngest of the boys in my family and so they were my touchstone towards knowing what’s cool in life. They were interested in sharing too, which in retrospect is really the sweetest thing. They were always eager to show me how cool this stuff was and I knew that if they were excited I definitely need to be involved.

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You have said brother also first taught you about drawing. Do you think you would be doing what you are today if not for the early influence of family?

I’m…pausing because I don’t really know how to answer that one. Art was my focus from a very early age so I don’t know what other path I would have taken at all, or if I’d be on the same path at all. I will say for sure that without my brother Curtis I would not be the artist I am today. He was the first to get me on the artistic path and was my first teacher. More than anything he wouldn’t stop me from doing mistakes my own way. Really that is the only way you can learn.

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What were some of the most challenging issues you faced in learning to create your art?

Mostly finding time to experiment! My techniques are the result of decades of long nights doing trial and error. It’s one thing to practice to improve but something altogether different to support myself and a family with the same thing I’m still practicing. Regardless, you need to always find the time to practice. We all know what looks good and what doesnt in our work. The hard part is knowing when to admit an error and redo. Being able to constantly redo something until it feels right is I think the biggest barrier to professional art but once you get it there is no better feeling.

What advice would you offer others wishing to pursue a career in the field?

You should always pursue what you love. It’s only through love that you can enjoy constantly working to improve what you spend your life doing so always put your love first.

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Why do you think people have always been fascinated by monsters of all sorts?

Monsters tend to characterize aspects of our lives that the world rarely touches on. They characterize an aspect of the human condition that awakens our curiosity and makes us want to understand our own feelings towards it.

What do you personally love about the idea of monsters most?

Mostly what I just said, actually. That and they look totally interesting all the time. There’s nothing complex about just being fun to draw. It’s a lot of nostalgia there. Deep down inside I’m still the grinning 10 year old watching Frankenstein’s monster lumber his way though the graveyard.

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How did the book Vereor Nox come about? What is it like to be able to hold an artbook featuring your works?

Well I began working independently with this art over two years ago now, The idea of getting a book started was done in response; it’d get my name out there more and also taken more seriously. In the time I’ve received a wonderful amount of love from people all over the world and people I never dreamed would contact me. It’s been a humbling experience. Except for when I first got the book in my hands. That wasn’t humbling at all, I was bouncing off the walls.

How did you decide which images to feature on its pages?

We actually went through a lot of structural changes. I spent days just moving pages around. Eventually just arranging them by monster seemed the most coherent theme to do.

Have you found yourself being more creative than normal during the Pandemic?

No. Not in the least. I tend to cloister myself away to work anyway so the government telling me to stay cloistered away didn’t change my work at all. The pandemic was just a source of headaches. My wife and kids were all essential during the quarantine so there was always stress about their safety. Grocery shopping became closer to a dungeon raid with all the prep work it required. On top of that it there was the slow realization that I would have to delay all of my large plans: The book would have to be delayed, which was terrible. We also had intention to move so I could have a larger place to work but that didn’t pan out either. With the book out now I’m hoping things can recover enough for us to move safely soon.

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Having gotten back to painting is there anything you’ve realized you had missed about it?

Yes and no. It’s all just drawing so it’s not much different from what I do now. The techniques aren’t the draw as much as the materials though, which I do enjoy. Working in oils helps with blending immensely. I always enjoy that.

How does your work in paint differ most from your other methods? Do you enjoy one more than the other?

Besides the materials and their unique strengths, not really. I just enjoy the creative process. The only real difference is the amount of prep work involved in painting.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to our interview?

I would like to thank all my wonderful Facebook & Instagram friends, patrons and family for liking, sharing and promoting my art and pages. Your support & motivation along with your comments, suggestions and ideas have definitely motivated me to be a better artist. I am truly thankful.

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