Classic movie monsters like the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Phantom of the Opera have had an ardent fanbase from their first appearances on the silver screen; probably because of their ability to evoke terror and sympathy in equal parts. One such fan is artist Audrey Funk; and her renditions of these monsters on canvas are garnering her fans of her own! Laura Macfehin talks to her about her process.
How did you start making art?
My grandmother was a painter, and when I was young I would go and stay at her house during the summer and we would paint. She started my love for art, and taught me so much.
What is it about monsters that makes you want to paint them?
I’ve loved monsters since I was a little kid. I’ve always been drawn to things that are “dark.” Monsters have always appealed to me. I think what I love most about them is that they’re just misunderstood. Like the Wolfman isn’t “evil,” he was cursed.
What else in your life inspires you to make things and paint?
I suffer from severe anxiety, PTSD and depression, and having a creative outlet helps me on a daily basis to cope with these issues.
Well, Famous Monsters had a contest at their Dallas Convention and I entered it and won for the horror category. Being in Famous Monsters has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. It’s very surreal to me that one of my pieces is going to be in the magazine.
The iconic Famous Monsters of Filmland was started in 1958 by editor Forest J. Ackerman and publisher James Warren. The magazine celebrated classic movie monsters and the creative people who made them– bringing back into the spotlight many (at the time) overlooked innovators like Lon Chaney Sr. and Jack Pierce. The original magazine folded in 1983 but was brought back into circulation in the 90s in a less than satisfactory way that led to original editor Ackerman suing the new publisher. In 2009 a new Ackerman approved editorial staff reinstated the mag, which continues with a huge and enthusiastic fanbase to this day. Famous Monsters has inspired artists in all mediums– from Stephen King to the Misfits.
What are some of your passions outside of painting?
I am a high school art teacher, and I love what I do. I love connecting with my students, and love sharing my passion for art with them. I am the weird art teacher, who’s classroom is covered with monsters, and that’s ok. I show my students that it’s ok to be yourself and don’t try to conform to what society thinks is cool or “normal.” I provide a safe environment for my student to feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Do you have a favourite monster and why?
Frankenstein’s monster has always been my favourite, especially portrayed by Boris Karloff. He’s always appealed to me the most. When I was in the 2nd grade I did a book report on Boris Karloff. Karloff’s representation of the monster will always be first and foremost in my mind. Frankenstein’s monster to me just represents someone who is shunned from society because of what they look like. He does things that appear monstrous, but he’s not really a monster, he just doesn’t know any better.
Where do you do your art and making?
A lot of my art making is done at school. While my students are working, I like to paint. I think it’s a good teaching tool, because they can watch me and learn from what I’m doing. I share my own techniques with them as well. I think it’s important that my students can see that I myself am an artist, and that way they will be more likely to trust the advice that I have for their art.
How else do you spend your time?
I love to spend time with my husband and my three young boys, ages 5, 6 and 7. It’s like herding cats when we go out but it’s so much fun! We love to take them outside and explore.
My husband is my pillar of strength and my own personal cheerleader. He has helped me overcome so much and I am eternally grateful for his unconditional love and support. We love antiquing together, where I try to hunt for more monsters to add to my vintage monster collection.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon? What are you looking forward to?
I will have some of my work displayed for sale at the Local Boogeyman’s House of Horror shop in Los Angeles opening this fall, which is very exciting. I always have a list going in my head for new paintings and ideas that I come up with. I’m looking forward to expanding my Etsy shop to include more of my original artwork.