DANVERS: Thanks Bradley for taking the time to chat with me--I love your design and illustrations! Tell us a little about how you got into graphic design.
BRADLEY BEARD: I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. For years, I’ve dabbled in Fine Art, Pop Art, and I’ve even created a monstrous children’s book. I’ve been creating old school graphic design for over 20 years using traditional methods and materials. Under the coercion of my wife and a good friend, I decided to go back to college to earn my graphic arts degree so that I could take my skills to the next level by developing the necessary computer skills required to survive in the modern world of graphic design. I studied at the College of Southern Nevada and received incredible guidance from several amazing professors, one of whom I consider to be my mentor.
D: Tell us a little about bb2design.
BB: Bb2design is my graphic design company through which I’ll do future freelance work. In my final portfolio class, my professor had each student create their own company and logo which we were to carry with us after graduation as a foundation for our artistic endeavors. BB2Design is still in its infancy as I haven’t had the time to fully develop the company yet. My logo is currently in use and can be seen on my daily Facebook art posts.
D: You’ve been working your way illustrating all the horror hosts from the classics to modern hosts. What inspired you to do this?
BB: That is an interesting story that involves a mutual friend of both you and me. When I began my art challenge on October 1, 2014, it initially began as a self imposed challenge and a way for me to present my newest horror designs to my friends and family. A friend of mine happened to share one of my portraits with her friend in Austin, TX. At that time, I just wanted anyone who liked monsters to see my work, so I contacted her friend and asked if he would mind checking it out. He wrote me back stating how much he liked it and he also informed me that he was a horror host who is better known as Professor Anton Griffin. Immediately I knew who he was and over the course of a few months, we became friends. I grew up watching Chuck Acri and have always enjoyed Horror Hosts. I put forth the proposal to design horror hosts and Prof. Griffin was all for it. He provided the inspiration and helped me to lay the ground work for what you see me doing now.
D: Ah yes! Good 'ol Professor Griffin! He's a great guy and very supportive--not to mention a bastion of knowledge! So having drawn so many horror hosts, who are some of your favorites?
BB: Are you trying to cause me trouble, Mr. Danvers? This is a very dangerous question and it could become a very slippery slope for me if I start naming names given the current project I am involved with. Let’s just say that I watch each and every host I design and enjoy watching their shows, and yes, I do enjoy some hosts more than others. There are several hosts who have helped me out greatly with this project but that list is far too long for me to name names in the event that I might leave someone out. I do appreciate each and every horror host who I have been in contact with and who have helped this project along. I don’t have to mention names because they know who they are and they know how much I appreciate them. I do have my favorite hosts but that is a highly guarded secret.
D: Of course I'm trying to get you into trouble! It's what I do! So, clearly you have of love of classic horror! If you could design a classic (or modern) film, book or story—what would it be?
BB: I would love to say Frankenstein but after Berni Wrightson illustrated it with so such mind blowing detail and precision, nobody could ever top that and I’d never think to try. If I could illustrate a classic book, I think I would have to choose Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
D: Nice! Both excellent choices! I think your style would lend itself very well to both of those stories!! You've mentioned
Berni Wrightson and his excellent illustrations, can you tell us about some of your artistic influences--classic or contemporary?
BB: When I was very young, I found Famous Monsters #103 on the newsstand with the brilliant Basil Gogos Creature from the Black Lagoon cover. It was the moment that defined me as an artist, from then on I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, and if I could design monsters, even better. As a teenager, I discovered Berni Wrightson’s illustrated Frankenstein and this defined another aspect of me as an artist. I’ve had the honor of meeting both artists and they’ve both positively acknowledged my work. I have also studied the masters and Michelangelo would be on the top of that list. Being a comic book kid, my list of contemporary influences is great; a short list would include Frank Frazetta, Barry Windsor Smith, Neal Adams, Michael Kaluta, Mike Mignola, Craig P. Russell, Simon Bisley, Alex Ross, Chester Gould, and numerous others. When you realize that I cut my teeth on comic books, you can immediately see the influence on my style. When I was very young, I would reproduce entire panels from comic books exactly as they appeared including reproducing the thickness of the lines in order to develop my hand eye coordination.
D: I've read in one of your posts that you break the face down into shapes to create the portrait. Tell us a little about that.
BB: This was a concept that was taught to me long ago. As an artist, preconceptions of what we think something should be or look like can hold us back and can influence our work in a negative way. Simply, if you are drawing a nose, don’t try to draw a “nose” but instead try to recreate the individual shapes that form each individual nose to make it unique. In order to recreate a person’s likeness, an artist must be able to break the subject’s face down into the shapes and angles that comprise the form. Every face is different so recognizing and understanding its component shapes is crucial in creating a recognizable likeness.
D: You have created so many hosts—some of which I was not actually aware of! What is your research like for finding all of these great people?
BB: I have several horror hosts who provide me with names, photos, and information on hosts that they would like to see and several few fans also do the same. I search an incredible amount of resources and continually do numerous internet searches in every imaginable way.
D: Is your goal to do every host that ever was, or will be—(laughing)—or do you have and end goal in site?
BB: What I have is a projected completion date for the project which I will not officially announce as anything could happen and I end up missing a day. I obviously can’t include every horror host but I’m trying to include as many of the contemporary fan favorites and classic Shock Theatre era horror hosts as I can. Take for example the month of April, I’m presenting mostly newer hosts in order to possibly help give them a foot up. It’s a genre which I’m very passionate about so it’s truly been a labor of love. I’ve met and spoken with the most amazing people over the past few months, it’s turned into an amazing ride. I’m planning a finale which will include a large number of well-known hosts who I’ve not yet included and I’m planning a few other surprises as well. If I can complete the project, I hope that people will be blown away.
D: I'm pretty sure people are already blown away! I know I was! Do you have other projects similar to the horror host portraits planned in the future, or is this a one-off kind of thing?
BB: I have no projects planned at this time other than taking a long nap when I’m done with all of this. The post-a-day pace that I’m doing now is definitely a one-off thing. With that being said, I plan to keep producing more portraits and begin to reveal other artistic intricacies of my mind to my audience.
D: Anything else you want to tell the audience about your work, upcoming projects, etc?
BB: My work is fan based, I’m first and foremost a fan of the genre and I want to give the audience artwork that I’d personally like to see. I have no upcoming projects in the immediate future other than just finishing this one, seeing it to through to its intended completion date. After that, anything is fair game; we’ll just have to see.
D: Do you offer works for sale or can fans make donations to you? If so, URL, etc?
BB: I currently have no works for sale but that’s something that I expect will change soon. I’ve never even thought of donations, however, I do expect to possibly do a Kickstarter later to fund publication of my work. And again, once this monstrous project is complete.
D: I know you will have monstrous support!! Bradley thank you again for taking the time for the interview!