Monday 14 April 2014

Arts Of Darkness: Sam 'Mister-Sam' Shearon

© Joanne Leung
“I'm a big cryptozoology enthusiast and go ghost hunting and lake monster or bigfoot seeking when I can... so perhaps at some point I'll release a few books or my own documentaries based on those subjects... not to mention my interest in UFO's.”

Anyone with even a passing interest in 'Dark Art' will have no doubt come across the work of Sam 'Mister-Sam' Shearon. His dark, often surreal works have graced everything from albums and band merchandise, to comics, books and even musical instruments. He has worked alongside some of the biggest names in music and will even turn you into a zombie if you'd like? But this recognition didn't come overnight. Shearon has been working on his art from a young age.

“There really isn't a start date on my career as an artist... as my work is so varied and I've been creating since childhood. But in terms of creating commercially for bands and comic-books, I guess I can say that really began in 2006.
Becoming established just takes time and effort – you get out what you put in and there's no end goal. As an artist I'm forever learning and developing my skills – it's an ongoing process. As with everything in life – the more we know, the more we know we don't know enough!”

A Pale Horse Named Death - 'Lay My Soul To Waste'

Since 2006, Shearon's work has been featured on both albums and merchandise for bands including the likes of Godhead, Rob Zombie, Ministry, A Pale Horse Named Death and Biohazzard amongst others.

“Most bands approach me simply through word of mouth from fellow bands I've created for already. For the most part, we're all in the same boat in terms of subject matter – there's no real attraction to my work other than we're all cut from the same cloth in regards to themes... death, darkness etc... so being drawn together in a sense comes naturally. I'll sometimes reach out to certain bands that I'm personally a big fan of and that's sometimes how things come to fruition also.”

Shearon's artistic style is as varied as the clients he works for. Drawing on the occult and cryptozoology as influences, he channels his life-long fascination with the unusual into his art, making his work stand out from the crowd.

“In terms of style – again it's varied, it depends on the client or piece of work in question. It could be a commercial work or a personal work or a private commission. But as a whole I'd say the genre or category that you could best pigeon-hole my field of work would probably be best described as Dark Surrealism... or generally 'Dark Art'.”

“I'm interested by most things that are unusual or strange... I think they draw everyone's attention. I think for me personally though, it all stems from my childhood – I can't say exactly why as there really isn't any 'one' reason other than experiences regarding these subjects that I enjoyed growing up. I prefer things that stimulate my curiosity for the rare, the unusual, the strange... things you don't see every day - things you can truly call 'wonderous'.”

Powerman 5000 - Builders Of The Future

Shearon has enjoyed a wave of commercial success with commissions coming in all the time for new projects. However there is still plenty that he would like to do beyond his current workload.

“Commissions from commercial clients, bands and comic-books has taken up 113% of my time for the last eight years... and even more-so now with some huge clients on the table as we speak, one of course being the band Ministry... and I love what I do – so no complaints there. But in the future I would love to record my own album and make a few short films... then of course the goal would be to make a full length feature film. I'm a big cryptozoology enthusiast and go ghost hunting and lake monster or bigfoot seeking when I can... so perhaps at some point I'll release a few books or my own documentaries based on those subjects... not to mention my interest in UFO's.”

One recent dream that has come true for Shearon was to work with Al Jourgenson of industrial-metal giants Ministry on a new comic book venture.

“I'd been creating artwork for guitarist Sin Quirin's band 'Supermanic' who has played guitars for Ministry on the last couple of records and tours and I'd expressed to him my interest in the band... so things started to roll from there... I was then also asked to help create some of the artwork on the final Ministry record 'From Beer To Eternity' which is out now. I ended up creating just the back cover artwork to the package the rest was created by photographer Allan Amato. After seeing my work Al and Angelina Jourgensen asked me to step forward and create the full Ministry comic-book series. So naturally I said yes and was invited to stay at their home for a number of weeks on several occasions while I got to know Al personally and took notes on his life history and the band's history. Being a fan of the band I was already very familiar with the music – though getting inside Al's head was really where I needed to be in order to write this 13 part epic, with each issue being based around 13 Ministry albums.
"We're aimed for San Diego comic-con this July 2014 to reveal the teasers for the first issue and some sneak-peaks for the rest of the series... though a full launch is being talked about for this year's Halloween... we're keeping a lot of things under wraps – so stay tuned!”

© Zach Pasero

Even if you don't have any corporate or label backing, Shearon is available for more personal work. His skill as a portrait artist is as much in demand as his skill as a designer. And you can hire him too. He is currently working on a series of zombie portraits, which is another personal ambition.

Well, anyone can step forward and commission me to transform them by way of a portrait into one of the undead... though they have to understand it's not a free service... You can reach out for a personalised price via my facebook page. Men, Women, Children and pets... all are welcome!
I wanted to put this collection together for a long time... then POW Zombies where everywhere and suddenly extremely popular... I put that all down to really starting due to the huge success of the movie 'Shaun of the Dead' starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost... I think Director Edgar Wright's masterpiece really put zombies back on the cultural map! I honestly think this craze all started there!”

In the future you may even be able to hire Shearon to teach you the tricks behind his extensive body of work as he also holds a teaching qualification. But that isn't on the cards just yet.

“I am not currently teaching – I simply don't have time for that type of career in my life right now.
Perhaps when I'm much older I'll go back to teaching. But right now, I have other things that are of far greater interest to me than educational paperwork. From an art lesson with me... what would you expect? You'd go home glad you attended and be fuelled to come back for more, hopefully!”

Kill Devil Hill - 'Revolution Rise'

The Essentials:

Intravenous Magazine: How do you typically approach creating a new piece and do you have any particular creative rituals?

Mister-Sam: Well, I generally think about it for a day or two... do a little research... check I'm on the right page so to speak and not repeating another artists direction... (as that can happen!), clear my head... put on some movie scores to listen to... and then dive in headstrong with no other work on the table until the piece in question is complete... I think everything starts that way.
IVM: What tools and techniques do you use day to day?

MS: A fine black roller-ball pen... a 2B pencil, several mugs of tea... and a mouse!

IVM: Which artists have been your biggest inspirations and/or continue to inspire you and why?

MS: Well, I'd say my top five favourites are as follows.... Salvador Dali, Ashley Wood, Gustav Klimt, Alponse Mucha and Clive Barker. All have a way of attacking reality in a brutally honest and yet surreal fashion... Their works not only inspire but fascinate. Dali has the ability to pull you into his world with strange landscapes and figures painted in such a way as that you could believe them to exist... Ashley Wood has a raw punk feel with angular scratches and textures yet a gorgeous delivery of light and weight in the female and robot form... the use of movement is most enjoyable. Klimt has a classical feel that oozes rich vampiric mythology... grand forms of tragic figures... horrific subjects in gorgeous patterned compositions. Mucha adds a romance and adventure to my inspiration... echoes of history and style from an era of dreams and drugs... and finally Clive Barker, who's words and illustrations, passages and paintings are some of the most inspiring and life changing works I've had the pleasure to enjoy throughout my college years and to this day... Clive Barkers' works grab you by the throat and scrape your retinas with vicious visual and descriptive laughter as they haunt and stain your memory with a fresh look on life and death itself that kisses your mind like a bear trap kissing a child.

IVM: Which piece of art did you find the most challenging to create and why?

MS: I couldn't answer this... everything is a challenge, as I like to push myself each time and see where my work takes me and what news things I can discover. So everything is a challenge to me.

IVM: Which piece or pieces are you most proud of and why?

MS: Both A Pale Horse Named Death albums – I'm proud of those because I'm a huge fan of both Type O Negative and Life of Agony and to create these album sleeves is a dream come true... The Ministry artwork done and in process is also a huge proud moment for the same reasons... I'm also pretty proud of the latest Powerman 5000 album, the illustrated H.P.Lovcraft Call of Cthulhu for IDW Publishing and The X-Files and KISS work... the list goes on... I'm very proud of the work currently on my table, though I can't announce that until San Diego comic-con in July!

IVM: Do you have any exhibition/art book plans for the future?

MS: I always have things planned for the future – it's an ongoing career process.... keeping things rolling – getting things out there – taking on new projects and living the dream. I really can't spill the beans on the works in the pipeline right now... let's just say I go to bed with an evil grin each night like a child who knows what he's getting for Christmas!

IVM: If someone is new to you and your art, how do you feel they typically react to it?

MS: Men want to be me... women want to be with me... hahaha!Honestly – I have no idea... But to quote Sir Anthony Hopkins “My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”

Crowned By Fire - 'Space Music For Cave People'

To see more of Mister-Sam's work and find out how to commission his services, please visit his official website
All artwork feature by Sam 'Mister-Sam' Shearon. Please do not reproduce without permission.

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