Meet 6 Horror Artists Who’ll Haunt Your Mind

Being scared is a horrible feeling, so why do so many fans of horror love it? Well, if you ask science, it’s because our bodies release dopamine when we’re frightened. When we watch horror movies and experience fear, our bodies can sense that we’re not actually in danger. This could trigger a release of hormones that make us feel good. If you’re craving that fear-induced dopamine rush, there are tons of Threadless horror artists who’ll make your spine shiver.

With Halloween around the corner, we caught up with six incredible artists who bring our nightmares to life in horrific detail. In addition to learning about their bone-chilling art, read on ghost stories, an epic halloween costume, and candy corn. Don’t be afraid! They won’t bite.

“Sci-fi and horror tickles different parts of the mind. I enjoy both themes, but creating a sense of discomfort has always been my favorite route.”

Pär Olofsson, Digital Artist and Illustrator
“Fungi” by Pär Olofsson

Your style mixes elements of horror and sci-fi to create apocalyptic hellscapes and nightmarish creatures. In your personal art projects, which themes do you enjoy creating art for the most?

Pär Olofsson: Sci-fi and horror tickles different parts of the mind. I enjoy both themes, but creating a sense of discomfort has always been my favorite route. The sci-fi elements are often there to serve the horror. ”Necropolis” blends the two genres in a nice way. It is an homage to Fritz Lange´s Metropolis and blends that with some horror themes.

You’ve designed album art for brutally heavy bands including Slaughter to Prevail and Aborted. When you’re creating album art, to what extent do the lyrics and music impact your creative process?

The process varies from time to time. The band often has a concept for the album and ideas of what they want. Sometimes it’s a written design document with lyrics, music, and reference photos, and sometimes it’s a rough sketch on a Post-it. I prefer the latter since it opens up for more artistic freedom. It’s pretty rare to have a finished album to listen to while working, so I try to find music within the same genre or previous albums of the same band to fuel the painting process.

Which design in your Artist Shop do you believe best represents your work?

“The Seeker” used by In Asymmetry is a good representation of album art I enjoy painting. With that piece I had total artistic freedom. That’s fairly rare and can bring some performance anxiety with it. The piece has a nice mystic feel about it and I really like the light and colors. Working on personal pieces is a bit of a luxury when so much of my time and energy is consumed by commissioned work, but with ”Fungi” I really gave myself the time to paint something that had no client, AD, or deadline attached to it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

In the future there will be more music related art in my Threadless portfolio. Also, there will be some death metal-esque personal designs in black and white. Ink on paper—going back to the roots!

“I’m fascinated by things that scare me. I like to draw things that make me uncomfortable, and sometimes that helps me overcome those fears.”

Ally Burke, Painter and Illustrator

Strawberry ghosts, lizard girls, sad jack-o-lanterns. Your art has a darkness and playful charm that makes us want to celebrate Halloween year-round. What is it about spooky season that makes you want to create art?

Ally Burke: I’ve always been a little obsessed with death and I think I was drawn to Halloween as a way of dealing with that, honoring the dark stuff as a part of life. I read The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury when I was kid and it left a very lasting mark. I’m also fascinated by things that scare me. I like to draw things that make me uncomfortable, and sometimes that helps me overcome those fears.

Many illustrations in your Artist Shop and on your Instagram feature candy corn, one of the most polarizing Halloween candies. Do you like candy corn, or do you think it’s more of a trick than a treat?

I love candy corn! It’s my favorite Halloween candy and I don’t actually understand why it’s quite so hated, unless maybe it’s a texture thing. But it works for me that so many people think it’s gross because I like drawing gross things.

What’s your favorite Halloween tradition?

Watching horror movies and carving pumpkins.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love Threadless and I appreciate how involved you guys are with the artists, and how helpful everyone is (shout out especially to Anna Lisa). As for upcoming projects, I’m already getting started on new Halloween stuff for next year. Gotta keep that fire burning.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated and creeped out by the idea of the living dead.”

Chet Zar, Dark Artist, Digital Animator, and Special Effects Makeup Artist
“Alter Ego” by Chet Zar

You’re widely known for your work on Tool’s critically acclaimed music videos and 3D animations for their live shows. How big of an influence is music on your creative process? What are you listening to while you make your original works?

Chet Zar: Music is a huge influence on me, but not really in a direct, visual way. It’s not like I hear music and it makes me want to create a specific image. It’s more that I love music and great music inspires me to be creative. As far as what I listen to when I paint, it’s usually movies, specifically documentary films. When I do listen to music, it’s all old stuff. The last thing I listened to was The Who’s Quadrophenia.

You’re also a lifelong fan of horror movies and a multidisciplined visual artist who’s created creatures and makeup effects for films including The Ring and Planet of the Apes. Which movie monsters creep you out the most?

Hmmm..good question. I can’t say there is one specific monster, but I can say there is one specific category of monsters that creeps me out the most—zombies. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated and creeped out by the idea of the living dead.

You must have the best Halloween costumes. What’s your favorite costume you’ve ever worn?

Well, the best costume I ever made wasn’t for me, but for my son. He was only 9 or 10 years old and it was pretty high concept, so I really had to sell him on it. The concept was that he would wear a traditional clown costume and wig with traditional happy clown makeup on his face. But the twist was this—I took a mold of his smiling face and made a thin latex mask of it. I painted that with clown makeup so that when he had the mask on, it just looked like him smiling and wearing clown makeup. But I built a thin, bloody muscle layer beneath the mask and glued that onto his face. I made a little tab on the inside of the clown face’s mouth that my son could grip with his teeth to keep the face from falling off. When he was ready, he could tear the face off to reveal the bloody muscle layer.

It was great—a happy clown that could tear his face off. And as a bonus he realized that if he tilted his head down slightly and let go of the tab between his teeth, his face would just fall off and he could catch it before it hit the ground. He was SUPER hesitant to do this, because at first glance, he just looked like a happy clown…and no 10 year old boy wants to look like a happy clown. It’s just not cool. But I assured him that he would freak out everybody at school, so he went with it. While walking by the kindergarten class, all of the little kids were looking at him, and he looked back at them and let his face fall off. They all screamed, and he knew he had made the right decision. He spent the rest of the day tearing his face off and freaking out the other students and teachers.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I LOVE my Threadless shop and the Threadless community. It’s so great to be able to easily create merch that I could not normally afford to make for fans of my work. As far as any projects I have coming up…..my long awaited book, Dy5topia, should be available in mid-November at chetzar.bigcartel.com. It has taken me five years to complete it, and it’s nearly 400 pages. It’s so much bigger than I had planned on! The concept is that it’s a guidebook to the “alternate dimension” that I’ve been painting for the last 20 years. It’s almost like a D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide or a field guide to my paintings, with deeper insights on the characters, where they live, and their societal place in the dark universe of Dy5topia. I’m really excited about it!

“My works represent entities that wander in various places. We can call them ghosts, but personally I don’t believe in the soul. I think they’re projections of those who were once men.”

Danny Ingrassia, Digital Artist and Illustrator
“Dama Con L’ermellino” by Danny Ingrassia

Many of the subjects in your art look possessed, with their eyes blacked out and their mouths agape as if they’re shrieking. What inspires this haunting, paranormal tone in your work?

Danny Ingrassia: My works represent entities that wander in various places. We can call them ghosts, but personally I don’t believe in the soul. I think they’re projections of those who were once men. They have no feelings, maybe just a few residual memories. They can take many forms. Some are curious, so they wander, transform, evolve, and above all, observe. Others stay in a place, like a home, where they may be waiting for something that will never come. Their face is expressionless and represents their eternal being. This can be unsettling, but someone told me that looking at them felt like sadness, melancholy. They don’t want to and probably can’t hurt you. They’re just there.

What are three horror movies you’d recommend your followers to watch during the Halloween season?

The first film that I would like to recommend that relates to the meaning of my works is A Ghost Story from 2017. The depth of this film has inspired many of my works, and it perfectly explains the concept of life after death to my taste. The second film I recommend is The Babadook from 2014. Its concept is that the real monsters are not the ones we see in the cinema, but the ones that live inside us. My third recommendation is not a movie but a TV mini series—The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. Both of these seasons show that horror is not only fright, but can also be pure love.

If you unknowingly moved into a haunted house, would you move out immediately or stick around out of morbid curiosity?

Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts, although I like their stories. It’s like being into the fantasy genre, but I don’t have to believe in dragons. But assuming I was in a real haunted house from one of those stories, well, I think I’d love to be able to live with them, and just walk away in case they hurt me. Yes, it would be fascinating to be able to do that.

Anything else you’d like to share?

On my Instagram page, you can find all the information about new and future projects and my NFT collections, which I’m investing in all myself. And then I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here for this interview. I’m only here thanks to those who follow me and believe fully in what I do.

“When I paint, I tap into my real feelings, and come to a deeper understanding of my dreams and subconscious mind so I can heal internally…”

Beatriz Bradaschii, Dark Surrealist
“Resurgence 1 Surreal” by Beatriz Bradaschii

Your paintings and sculptures are dark, melancholic, and steeped in symbolism. What are some of the themes and emotions you aim to portray in your work?

Beatriz Bradaschii: I’ve always loved surrealism. At first, I only wanted to paint subjects and elements from another world, away from reality, or from a distorted one. Though they’re still the most prominent visual aspects of my pieces, they eventually started to serve as incredible instruments of introspection for me, and that’s when symbolism became essential to my work. 

Weirdly enough, the emotions I try to convey the most (with some exceptions) are stillness, intrigue, and sometimes even hope. When I paint, I tap into my real feelings, and come to a deeper understanding of my dreams and subconscious mind so I can heal internally, thus giving me a sense of tranquillity, bliss, and completion. Though I can’t tell for sure if that is what my art makes others feel. Transformation, healing, death and rebirth, and sometimes just a few juicy eyeballs are recurrent themes in my work.

Who are some of the artists that have influenced you the most?

Mark Ryden, Stephen Mackey, Michael Hussar, Mari Shimizu, David Stoupakis, Zdizlaw Beksinski, Midori Hayashi, Ray Caesar, Remedios Varo, Lori Earley, Zan Von Zed, Nadezda (twistedmatter), to name just a few. I also have a love-hate relationship with Hieronymus Bosch’s art. I also get really inspired by classical art, especially from Rococo and Neoclassicism.

When you’re creating something particularly dark, do you ever give yourself the chills? If so, which piece was it?

Not really, at least not from the dark and obscure aspects of the art itself. I guess the exception is spiders—which I like to paint even though I’m absolutely terrified of them—or painting skeleton parts and then imagining them moving. I paint bones and skulls all the time, but I cannot stand skeletons moving or dancing. NOPE.

I do often get chills because of the cathartic effects. Sometimes in the middle of the process I end up understanding something about myself that has hidden within. So I get chills when I realize that I was instinctively expressing something I wasn’t aware of initially, and then the painting ends up having a whole new meaning. I also get chills from the rush of inspiration that comes when ideas start flowing quickly while working on a piece or just sketching.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If anyone is curious to see more of my art, Instagram is the platform I use the most to share my work. You can find me there @bea.bastet. My personal shop for original art and sculptures will be up soon. I’m very excited and I’ll announce it there too. Thank you Threadless for the interview and for making it possible for many independent artists like me to have a beautiful artist’s shop!

“Sometimes after years I revisit some paintings that didn’t make sense to me, and now they make perfect sense because of what was happening in my life at that time.”

Jorge Dos Diablos, Contemporary Artist
“El Diablo De La Mano” by Jorge Dos Diablos

You describe your art as coming from your inner emotions and social conflicts. In what ways is making art therapeutic for you, if at all?

Jorge Dos Diablos: In a great way it could be like that, but it also helps me understand certain aspects that are there unconsciously. When I see them embodied as those creatures or forms without meaning, I can see in a certain way what is happening in my head. Sometimes after years I revisit some paintings that didn’t make sense to me, and now they make perfect sense because of what was happening in my life at that time.

The monsters you create are hideous, macabre, and downright unsettling. I hope you take that as a compliment! What are some examples of art that give you the creeps?

Sure, I take it as a compliment, but honestly, it is not the end of my ideas in doing so. In cinema, there are several examples. One of them that gives me chills is the film Father by Florian Zeller. Being in that situation is disturbing, pure horror. Also, the performances of Olivier de Sagazan or David Henry Nobody Jr.—I love them but there is always that feeling of discomfort and morbidity. And finally, there are the videos of Bill Viola, they are beautiful but disturbing.

If you don’t mind sharing, what’s the significance behind your moniker “Dos Diablos”?

It’s a game of words and images, because my personal name is very common. I did this game of words inspired by the Mexican game “Loteria.” It’s very similar to Bingo, but with these numbered images that are kinda Pulp-style, very beautiful. The number two card has a little devil running on it. When I was a child, it always caught my attention. And that’s where the word game comes from. Card number two + el diablito = Dos Diablos.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Now I have a show “Cementerio Club” together with “Chaos” by Chet Zar at the Copro Gallery in Los Angeles. It started on October 9 and will run until October 30 with a closing Halloween party. You can see all the works on my Instagram or on the Copro Gallery website, but if you live in the area, I recommend you to go and see it in person. It is a very good show for this October spooky season.

It’s no secret. The Threadless community LOVES horror, even long after the last jack-o-lantern stops glowing. Find even more incredibly talented horror artists who’ll make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck!

CategoriesArtists Speak
Rafael Velez

Copywriter at Threadless. Lover of thin-crust pizza, heavy metal, and B horror movies. Food source for a husky and two cats.