Horror Artist James Powell Paints a Colorful Portrait of Halloween and His Inspirations

In 2008, I was invited to attend a horror convention in Jackson, MS – this event is responsible for most of the friends I have today. Out of all of the artists I met here, James Powell was an artist who stood out to me. With his images of Lovecraftian themed artwork, I stood there regretting that I didn’t have more wall space. Throughout the years, I knew that in some way I wanted to work with Mr. Powell, however, I just never had the opportunity until my novel Syrenthia Falls was published by Dark Oak Press. Once Mr. Powell and my publisher were under the same roof, I brought my publisher to Mr. Powell and said, “HIM! HE IS THE ARTIST I WANT TO DESIGN THE COVER ART FOR SYRENTHIA FALLS!” Due to Mr. Powell’s wonderful take on the horror genre and my puppydog look in situations such as these, I am happy to finally work with Mr. Powell.

 james

As a child, artist James R. Powell was very much afraid of the dark. It wasn’t until his early teens that his mind became twisted, and he became attracted to the horror genre.

He’s lived in the backwoods of the Deep South most all his life, which have provided inspiration for many of his dark and surreal works. He has encountered several ghosts, and believes in UFOs.

In 1999 he was employed by Peavey Electronics, painting guitars for musicians such as Eddie Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, John Entwistle, and Alex Lifeson.

He’s been published by many companies, including Dark Continents and Western Legends Publishing, and his art has recently appeared in the pages of Fangoria magazine.

He’s worked with authors: Neil Gaiman, Brian Hodge, Scott Nicholson, Matthew Tait, John Prescott, Joe R. Lansdale, Alexander S. Brown, and many others.

He has done design work for actor Lance Henriksen, and horror punk legends The Misfits.

He has worked in both advertising and film. He is also a poet, musician, vocalist, and songwriter, and can usually be found late at night drinking rum and hanging out with a questionable black cat named Louis.

Being a native of Mississippi, and having a fondness for the Blues, he’s often had to deny rumors about visiting crossroads and having dealings with the Devil. However, at the age of thirteen he did play in a fresh-dug grave.

 

What does Halloween mean to you?

Well, it is my favorite holiday, for one! But there’s so many different aspects of it that I love. Halloween is like the highlight of the season, like Autumn’s Encore! And Monster Cereal, and pumpkin spice flavored everything!

What is your most memorable Halloween?

My most memorable Halloween was when I was a kid. It probably wasn’t really how it was at the time, but it was so creepy my mind retains it that way. Anyway, it was a haunted house we visited. I remember it as an old house we went into and there was a huge room, it seemed like an old, stone Greek theatre with a circle of steps leading downward. There was a lot of blue stained glass. At least, that’s how I remember it!

Of course, there’s also the time when I was about fourteen. We went to a Fall Festival at our church. While everyone was inside having their little fellowship, a few of us kids were rolling the churchyard! We’re probably going to Hell for that!

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

When I was a kid, it was Trick or treating. In my teens, I’d watch the first two original Halloween films every year. As I got older, I’d read Joe R. Lansdale’s short story By Bizarre Hands, which is one of the creepiest stories dealing with the holiday. Now, it’s taking kids Trick or Treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted houses, and watching scary movies!

What was your best Halloween costume?

I found a hat years ago at a thrift store, and it looked just like Ed Gein’s hat. Last year, I bought a latex mask that was of a peeled off face. So, I sewed the face to the hat, and when I put on the hat, the face just hung down over my own. I think that was probably my best costume.

What was your worst Halloween costume?

I think when I was about six I dressed as a cowboy. That’s probably the worst.

Some people believe Halloween is a negative Holiday to celebrate.  Why do you feel Halloween has such a controversy to it?

You know, I was thinking of a long elaborate essay of an answer for this one, but honestly, I think there are a lot of people out there who need to stay in their homes and pray on October 31st. They associate the holiday with the Devil. That’s funny because a lot of the traditional rituals of Halloween were started by the church!

What do you do to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween night?

It’s a night when I invite them to gather round me, actually. They say on Halloween night, during the Witching Hour, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. On several occasions, I’ve even shuffled a deck of Tarot during midnight and given myself a reading.

What frightens you and why?

I’m not that frightened by anything supernatural. For me, it’s anything that puts my family, friends, and the people I love in a situation of mortal jeopardy. Of course, not long ago I had a small fire get out of control, and that scared me pretty bad!

What’s your favorite scary movie and why?

That’s a tie between The Exorcist and the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Both of those movies still frighten me because they’re both very real to me!

What’s your favorite horror book and why?

Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Man, that one left a scar!

Do you prefer slow burners or fast paced thrillers?

If I fall in love with the characters, I’ll hang with a slow burner. If I’m not too concerned with them, I want it to be fast paced, and very visceral. I don’t want time to catch my breath!

What inspires your more frightening work?

Within me, there’s a big haunted house with many, many rooms. When I’m doing horror, I visit that place. There’s always cobwebs in the windows, leaking faucets, and flickering light bulbs. There’s scratching sounds coming from some rooms, and screams from others. I just wander down the halls and up the stairs, and I pick a door. I turn the knob and let it creak open, but I don’t enter. Whatever is inside, it comes out. It comes to me.

Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?

I’ll always consider myself a Surrealist, but horror has pretty much become my main focus. I used to try to balance it out, but it’s what I really love. It’s a passion, and it’s what I’m most devoted to.

Where can we find your work?

http://greyhaven.weebly.com facebook.com/artistjp

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One Response to “Horror Artist James Powell Paints a Colorful Portrait of Halloween and His Inspirations”

  1. Reblogged this on James E. Guin, Writer and commented:
    A Halloween interview with my friend artist James Powell.

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