THE INTERVIEW WITH
"Before Custom Horror I rarely used color in my art. I tend to say that I’m trying to stay true to the inner child, like I never really wanted to grow up. And my art is an expression of that..."
Hi David. Wanna intro yourself?
Hi Jakob - sure. So.. I’m David. But as an artist I go by the name Custom Horror. Which can be confusing, because I mostly sign my art with my real name. Maybe I’m in limbo or transitioning. Or just forever confused.
I’m born in Krakow, Poland, but I grew up in a small town called Nykøbing Falster here in Denmark. For a Danish town it’s not that small actually. It was a good and eventful time of my life. But seemed like the right time to leave that place after primary school. For the most of my life, after primary school, I’ve lived around or in Copenhagen where I now reside. I’ve spent a shameful amount of my life playing games, and still do that. Sometimes too much, other times less. I’ve always loved games. Can’t imagine ever stopping. I still work part-time, to make ends meet. Besides that, it’s mostly about my art. A bit about my health ( not getting younger), and other bits and bats.
When did you first start to think of yourself as an artist?
I think I fully embraced that title around 2008 when I made up my alter-ego Custom Horror. But I think what happened really, was more like realising I have always been one. But was blissfully sidetracked by the usual suspects, to do what is normal. And I’m cool with that, never felt wrong about getting that education. (I did get tired of highschool, but thankfully mom forced me through it).
So I no longer consider digital design to be my calling, art very much though. But I did chase a career in digital design initially, cuz it made sense to bend my creativity into something tangible society could use. Also I loved computers. ( funny that being an artist wasn’t really presented to me as an option at that time ). So digital design was my main focus after primary school and I got a short education as a Multimedia Designer and offered my services as a Graphics Designer and a Web developer for many years after that.
The ‘monsters’ seem as an ongoing theme . Where do they live and where do they all come from?
The monsters have always been with me, or rather, I’ve always been drawing characters of some sort since childhood. Then that whole monster thing was just a matter of defining what I was already doing, and an attempt to define that for an audience. And I thought monsters was an easy “go to” term. Even though my monsters aren’t monsters in the traditional sense, I feel Monsters can somehow embrace anything alive that doesn’t actually exist.
Also it gives me sooooo much freedom when creating art. Because, monsters do not have to be proportionally correct, nobody can tell me my one of my dudes is wrong! haha. It gives me freedom to play. And for me, art is very much about just playing around.
Do you think they sometimes, or do you know they do, characterize your own state in life?
I think it makes sense if they do. I am not conscious about it though. I often draw moods that are not coherent with how I feel. So I don’t know if there is a direct correlation or if they depict something deeper. I mostly feel my stuff is superficial. But it’s very much my thing, and since much of my workflow is intuitive, it makes sense if something from inside reaches the paper. So the short answer is, maybe :)
You work both digital and analog. How come - and any preferences?
As a former graphics designer digital was very familiar and the go-to for most creative jobs. But as an artist I mostly did analog. So as Custom Horror I’ve done both, each have their strengths. Digital always had that extreme flexibility of being able to keep re-editing and redoing parts of your work with no punishment, and lately with tech like an Ipad and apples pencil, digital also wins with comfort and ease to use for me. What analog has, is that tangibility, the organic mixing of colours and being messy. It can feel more playful like that. I enjoy both approaches.
Your images are quite psychedelic and a childish naive tone is dominant in your work. Where does this come from?
I usually refrain from creating work with expectations of a specific outcome. Expectations I would have if I portray a human or other figurative stuff in a realistic manner. I feel most free, expressive and playful like this, and there is less pressure on technicality.
Many things I do are on repeat, I rarely set out to push the boundaries. So it often feels quite meditative. Then sometimes I surprise myself with the outcome, like there is a new touch to my work, or perhaps an obvious style change. Then I tend to stay in that new realm for a while. I like wild unplanned strokes, I like stupidly spastic looking characters and big ears. I love circles, the addition symbol and speech bubbles. Abstract art has caught my attention and I do use bright colours more than ever.
So yes, my art is definitely super childish and perhaps also psychedelic. I didn’t really consider that. I have created some of my works on psychedelics. Actually, before Custom Horror I rarely used color in my art.
I tend to say that I’m trying to stay true to the inner child, like I never really wanted to grow up. And my art is an expression of that.
There is an indication that I’m in a constantly changing flow, my work changes slowly over time. So I can’t wait to see what sort of work I do in the future.
Scrolling through your work I see a lot of ‘15 minutes artworks’. Is it your creative meditative quick fix or…?
That is my current flow generator, anti-block medicine. It seems I get started with a piece more often if I set a very low ambition. My ideal is to create art everyday…truth is, I simply don’t. But I do create art far more often after I introduced the 15 min art idea.
Like what valid excuse can one actually have not to spend 15 minutes doing art on any given day? Especially knowing how that’s probably the most important thing for me. I’d say none.
So what happens is, I set out to do a minimum of 15 minutes of art. But when I get going, I tend to keep on going for at least 1 hour, sometimes more. But even if I only do 15 minutes, that’s still something. I still feel good about it.
So most of the 15 min art you see often takes longer, it’s more a description of the philosophy behind it. A way to make it very easy to start, even on days I don’t really feel like it.
Do you usually plan your sessions ahead of time or are you more of a spontaneous painter?
I’m not a super spontaneous person. I considered myself to be once, and I probably was then, but I think that comes with being young. I do whatever I feel like, spontaneously. And I’d say it’s a narrow spectrum of things I feel like doing now that I’m older. So that doesn’t seem so spontaneous anymore.
If I’d leave it to my spontaneous wants and feelings, more times than not I’d end up not doing art. Even though art makes me all right inside. I think I and people in general are creatures of habit and one of the driving factors to create habits seems to be whether you are having fun. And I think that is measured by how many endorphins your brain produces during an activity. So for me, drugs, gaming and social media easily become habits out of control.
So to counter that, I believe in actively trying to create and maintain habits that also treat your soul good. Habits that generate self-worth and self-love. Because habits, like creating art, working out, or eating good usually don’t generate as much endorphin as drugs, gaming and other quickies, so I try to identify how they make my life better and how I derive pleasure from them in the long run.
So the answer is not straight forward. I still just do what I feel like mostly, but I plan to keep working on ways to strengthen habits that are important to my wellbeing. Hopefully I will autopilot in that direction more often instead of the super fun quickies that can end up dominating your life too much.
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? And how does this affect your work?
I’d say introvert based on the amount of time I prefer to spend alone and how often I reject company. But on the other hand I’m pretty outgoing when I’m among people. I’ve never thought about how that affects my work. Maybe as an introvert, if I am one, I validate my own work and have less need for external validation. Maybe that makes it easier for me to just do what feels good for me. I don’t know.
The ever terrible question - who is your favourite artist over time?
It is terrible. But only because I’m so bad with names. But sooo many artists have given me wow moments. I refuse to define a single favourite, but I’ll mention first 5 that come to mind.
Kinki Texas, German artist, just love his style. I’ve definitely been inspired by him.
Takashi Murakami, his universe and colorful style is amazing to me. Ambition 10.000!! That’s him.. Apparently he pioneered a term called Superflat. Which sounds cool. Good for him. I just like his work and the scale of his productions. Sooo opposite my 15 min art.
Kim Jung Gi, that guy is just übermensch. I’m just stunned at what level this guy has mastered drawing. He makes live shows just drawing in front of audiences. No reference, just ultra detailed and lively drawings of people, vehicles and surroundings all intertwined into extremely complex pieces.
Beeple Crap, well, go look for yourself. This guy is quantity and quality combined. I am amazed.
That’s my 5 artists that came to mind, even though it was only 4. I’ll be the last one then.
And which question should we have asked you? And what would be your answer.
Hmm. This one is fine. But the answer is, I don’t know. And this is the answer. Inception much.