All posts tagged Art

Artist Katlyn Jackson displaying her original artwork.

Artist Katlyn Jackson displaying her original artwork.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Down time is a strange concept to Katlyn Jackson. At just 18, she runs both a successful photography and custom jewelry business, holds a steady day job and manages to trip out in her own unique artistic vision. And she’s quite the accomplished artist, having gained a good amount of notoriety locally.

“I love everything I do and it’s hard to do all those things with having your daily job to support yourself and hobbies you absolutely love. I plan on my projects throughout the year due to seasons and when I’d have the most free time to work on certain projects,” said Jackson.

Although she doesn’t have the ample abundance of free time to spend on her art that most her age would, it doesn’t stop her from taking advantage of any and every moment to find that spark.

“The hardest part is finding inspiration with having so much to do and only so many hours in a day. I’m always scrolling Instagram, Etsy, Facebook or Pinterest to find my own ideas to put on paper when I have 10-15 minutes. It’s best to make a list and come back to it when you’re ready,” Jackson said.

Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

The Raw Alternative recently spoke with Jackson at length on how she began her artistic journey.

The Raw Alternative: How long have you been at this?

Katlyn Jackson: Honestly, since I can remember. In high school I took it more seriously and put a lot more focused time into my pieces when contests and scholarships were important.

RA: How did you discover your love for art?

KJ: Just growing up I liked to draw similar things in different positions and sceneries. Of course they were kids drawings still, then I learned how to really apply my skills in school.

RA: What does art mean for you?

KJ: Art is very expressive. Looking back at it now, I never played sports and kept to myself mostly in school. I was always spending extra time in the art room. It was my escape, I guess you could say. Something I put effort into and felt proud of.

RA: What inspires you? Do you pull from certain emotions?

KJ: Honestly, being in a positive mindset. I get so many ideas and eventually spin off those ideas from there. Personally, I have a lot of anxiety, so it helps keeps my mind occupied to work on something and when I’m done, feel accomplished.

Original Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

Original Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

RA: Are there any other kinds of art/artists specifically that inspire your art? Or perhaps any music? And have any one piece of art directly inspired one of your works?

KJ: I have a couple pieces that are inspired from other works. For example, the really intricate works are recreated in my own form. I love watercolor paintings, city photos, abstract graphics. I’m drawn to many different pieces of art not specifically by any artists but I’m very supportive of all forms of artists out there. My favorite is recreating a piece of art as another art form. For example, taking a photograph and sketching and shading it out or recreating it as a stipple photo.

RA: What are some of your achievements so far? What are YOU most proud of?

KJ: Looking back now, I’m pretty proud of how far my photography has gone. There’s no going backwards so in free time I’ll look for contests, other local photographers to collaborate with and my freelance. Today, all the work I did starting at 14 landed me a studio job for Robert Senn, now at 18, making a decent wage. Sometimes I get blind-sided and forget how hard I worked to get where I am with opportunities still awaiting. It just amazes and also frustrates me all the different directions I’m pulled in with photography and art. There’s just so much I want to do!

RA: You’re also a photographer. How would you say those talents inspire your art? Is there any crossover?

KJ: Most definitely. I started off with photography first and got more interested in trying out new art forms and got hooked on seeing what I could do next. There’s so many different art forms, I wanted to see what I was good at and some things, I learned on my first try. Every piece amazes me, “Wow, I made that?” It’s always a surprise to see your own ending result starting from scratch and what things can turn into. I’m more visual, like a see-it first kind of person and go from there and spiral into something of my own. Soon I’d like to create new art from my own photographs.

Katlyn Jackson at work.

Katlyn Jackson at work.

RA: Tell us what you’re working on now? What are some of your short-term and possibly long-term goals?

KJ: I have some ideas and photos stored away when I have a fair amount of free time at once from my jobs. Right now I’d like to experiment with modeling with the help of a few close people and take the photos in my own hands. Not exactly a main focus for now but something to have on hand when I decide it’s something I might want to pursue. After that, I plan on picking up the pencil again and work on booking a month long gallery at Branch Street Roasters in Boardman. I’m very excited to work towards that and hopefully something exciting comes from that. I love selling art and having a variety of forms to show.

RA: What advice can you give to aspiring artists like yourself?

KJ: Just. Keep. Trying. Always have fun with what you’re trying to do, otherwise it feels like a chore and it’s not as fun. Don’t forget where you come from and what you really want deep down. I tried putting things I enjoyed aside and always came right back to doing it again. There are always different routes to take and try so never be afraid to experiment and fail because it will happen sometime and you’ll also succeed from those attempts.


Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

For over 30 years, Amy Zerner and Monte Farber have been creative forces in the arts and New Age worlds. Visual and fashion artist, Zerner and writer, Farber joined forces and began creating artistic spiritual items with their company, “The Enchanted World of Amy Zerner and Monte Farber.”
The husband and wife team forged their start with several artistic and fashion inspired tarot and divination systems. With Zerner at the helm of art and art direction, and Farber the wise words man, writing the council for their decks’ books they have become a well recognized and sought after team to not only collect from but to obtain readings from as well. Many people can benefit from their wisdom and insight. In terms of the way Farber words the systems, he speaks as someone who has indeed felt the full gambit of the human condition and he applies this insight into each interpretation of every corresponding tarot or oracle card.
Farber’s Karma Cards, published in 1988, feature astrological insights into a person’s natal birth chart and can also be read as divination by pulling cards to form sentences which give cosmic advice about how to manifest destiny.
1990’s Enchanted Tarot features traditional tarot card images and meanings. The surreal symbolism was done with embroidery/tapestries… something that had not yet been one in other systems. It was also the first effort in their line, which set the tone for the rest of their products.
In 1997, their Zerner-Farber deck was published and while it also used the embroidery/tapestries format, the symbolism delved into a wider cultural and visual perspective, especially with the use of more fantastical and whimsical interpretations that would still further their trademark of surreal and otherworldliness for which their company is aptly named.
2006 brought another such deck from the couple but with a specific theme: Love. In The True Love Tarot, Farber asks the reader such questions as, “what is love in a broad sense? What is self love?” etc. With Farber’s guidance the reader can begin to answer these questions, which must be asked and meditated upon before finding true love with another person.
Still other oracle decks such as The Relationship Deck (for all kinds of relationships) and The Healing Deck, dig even further into such topics and are meant mostly for both meditation and inspiration. As Farber states on the packs they are “little reminders” for a spiritual season or place a person might be in at that time.
Those still interested in deeper experiences can order private readings as well, private tarot/divination or astrological such as birth charts and relationships analyses are available through Farber’s website, There are a number of specific types of readings to choose from each emphasizing a particular aspect in a person’s life journey. In addition, they often conduct live readings, such as at conventions with their own systems.
So many people have found some amazing spiritual tidbits from these two and not surprisingly they have become a widely recognized name in the new age sections of bookstores and metaphysical shops over the last few decades. In addition to their website where they have been selling art, decks and readings, they are recently also now presenting their new storefront in East Hampton, NY. They have indeed found a true mode of living their lives through both the deeper meaning and everyday mundane lives of their business.
In fact, Farber’s motto is: “Make your life a work of art and your art a work of life.”
This past year, Zerner has also become an even more accomplished fashion designer in New York. Her spiritually inspired couture, jewelry and fashion pieces are now for sale at Bergdorf’s New York and on her website,, while Farber also maintains their blog on their website, They both continue their journey making their art to inspire and uplift in uncertain times.
An inspiring couple, Zerner and Farber live a rich life as artists both separately and together. Do visit their websites this holiday and fine some truly unique gifts of insight and inspiration this holiday season!
“Karma Cards,” c. 1988
Art by Amy Zerner, Words by Monte Farber
“The Enchanted Tarot,” c. 1990
Art/Embroidery by Amy Zerner, Words by Monte Farber
“The Zerner-Farber Tarot,” c. 1997
Art/Sewing/Embroidery by Amy Zerner, Words by Monte Farber
“The True Love Tarot,” c. 2006
Art/Sewing/Embroidery by Amy Zerner, Words by Monte Farber
Amy Zerner’s Zodiac Jewelry Collection at Bergdorf’s, c. 2014
Designs by Amy Zerner
Amy Zerner’s Jacket Collection at Amy Zerner Couture, c. 2014
Designs/Sewing/Embroidery by Amy Zerner


Photo courtesy of WeirdFishFotography.

Photo courtesy of WeirdFishFotography.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Imagine a work of art come to life. Colors dance before your very eyes. Lights pulsate and fade to pounding tribal rhythms. The music is loud, the lights are bright. A shot of adrenaline takes hold before a chill drops down your spine. This is the feeling evoked by pure, original art, unfolding before you.

Such is the way of the Infini-Tribe.

Infini-Tribe was founded in Youngstown, Ohio in January of 2014 by a group of young women with a passion for art. However, this is not your conventional idea of art. Infini-Tribe defy the very notion of convention by taking their love for hula hooping to the next level. A mind-bending LED display, stunning dance moves and psychedelic visual art are the ways of this tribe of hoopers.

“We’re a group of girls that love hooping,” said member Katie Morris. “There is no judging whatsoever. We consider ourselves to be a tribe where we trust each other, we can help each other and we grow from each other.”

“We had the right group of girls with the same dream and that’s what started it all,” added member Erika Smegal.

Along with the spectacular visual display, the tribe indicated that this style of hooping is good for both the body and the soul.

“It’s great for your body. It’s a great workout. You’ll feel it in your abs. A great exercise and lots of fun,” explained member Delia Dow.

“Also, it’s kind of spiritual in a sense,” added Morris. “Sometimes, if a girl picks up a hoop and she just finds a good flow with it, you just kind of loose yourself in it. Me, I’m kind of shy, I don’t go in a club and dance but with my hoop I feel like I can do anything.”

They explained that hooping works akin to yoga, as both a stress reliever and bodily cleanser.

The tribe convenes once a week for a vigorous hooping session. After spending the long winter months perfecting their craft, the tribe are ready to unleash their artistic beauty on the local scene. They will be performing alongside Youngstown psychedelic dreampop outfit Sleep Projections at Cedars on Easter Sunday, April 20, and will also be performing a slew of shows with another area act, Jones For Revival.

“We’ve got about seven shows lined up with them. Jones For Revival kind of picked us up. They saw our group and messaged us, asking us to perform along with them,” said member Callie Reda.

As for what’s next, the tribe members were very clear and what they want.

“World peace. Then world domination,” joked Smegal.

Below are samples of Infini-Tribe’s visual art, including stills courtesy of Weird Fish Photography as well as a video demonstration.


Original artwork by Craig Latchaw.

Original artwork by Craig Latchaw.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

It’s no surprise that Youngstown cartoonist Craig Latchaw has entered that line of work, but perhaps destiny. From an early age, he knew his love for art, cartoons and characters was something more than a mere interest, but a driving force. His early fascination with horror icons Jason and Michael Myers, as well as James Cameron’s prolific Sci-Fi saga, The Terminator, quickly turned to passion as he began his own sketches of the characters.

“My teachers thought I was insane, since those drawings had knives and blood. My inspirations besides the movies themselves would be my dad. He would draw funny cartoons at work and bring them home to show us and my mom and she’d hang his art on the fridge,” said Latchaw.

As Latchaw entered his teenage years, he inevitably fell in love with comic books, and began to take his love of art in that direction.

“As I got older I started reading comic books, Batman and Superman mostly and I would draw those characters. I did that all the way up till college where I learned painting, graphic design, sculpture even film making. But nothing has stuck with me to this day then drawing funny comic strips and I do it to this day,” said Latchaw.

After high school, he knew there was only one career path he can even fathom taking; Art.

“I realized pretty early on that I’d rather be homeless doing nothing then doing any other career that didn’t have to do with art. I was going to be an artist or die,” said Latchaw.


An original comic strip written and illustrated by Craig Latchaw.

As Latchaw began homing his craft, his inspiration began to shift to a more introspective angle. Much like that of comic cartoonists Jeffery Brown and Julia Wertz, his art and comics reflected the mundane humor of his daily life.

“The thing that inspires my art now is my own screwed up, mostly boring life. I’ll draw anything from my anxieties to just simply sitting at a table drinking tea, there are no limits. And I do this in an autobiographical comic strip,” said Latchaw.

Currently, he is working own two of his own comics based off of his own major life experiences.

“Today I am working on a couple comics, one about my time in Alaska as a security alarm door to door salesman, and how hard it was leaving my recently married wife all the way here in Youngstown. The other comic is a mix of all my random silliness and mundane of everyday life as seen through my eyes,” said Latchaw.

He is also lending his artistic hand to fellow comic writers, including his up-and-coming brother, who is following in his footsteps.

“I am also helping my younger brother publish his comics, called the Ed shows, it’s Simpsons meets the mad rants of a schizophrenic, and I am also inking a friends comic, a pretty famous local artist name Bruce Stepan, his comic is about the whoas of awkward adolescent promiscuity, alien invasions, drug and alcohol abuse, rape and murder,” said Latchaw.

As for the future, Latchaw is looking to collaborate  with more comic writer as well as to continue his own work.

“The next projects I will be working on is a collaboration artwork book with a friend and a series of collab paintings. And of course a couple more of my comic books,” finished Latchaw.



By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Who would have imagined that what began as a short poem 30 years ago by then-unknown artist Tim Burton would become the greatest Gothic romances and holiday-spanning works of all time?

Released in 1993, Tim Burton’s iconic masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, took the world by surprise. Before the film, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was probably the spookiest holiday tale in existence. That all changed after years of pushing the idea, and repeated edits as not to completely traumatize Disney’s overwhelming young audience. It is a film that spans not one but two holidays, and now ranks as a staple Halloween and Christmas flick, an achievement not seen by any other major motion picture.

The Nightmare Before Christmas also serves as a go-to film for young Gothic culture. For the last 20 years, it has not only turned all the fluffy Christmas hype on its head, but told a tale of dark twisted romance, the ultimate teenage fantasy. Along with his genius visual art, Burton is also a master story tellers, with a glimpse of childish innocence piercing through the dark.

Two whole decades after its release, the film continues to inspire young artists and poets. Featured this month are various pieces of fan art discovered through hash tags across the web. These are true testaments to The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ impact on not only modern counter-culture but genre-spanning multi-platform film, visual art and poetry.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Visionary, trailblazer, cool, godfather, original, genius, brooding, artistic, inspirational. Those are just some of the terms that come to mind when referencing the godfather of art rock, Lou Reed.

Reed’s 46-year career spanned several eras, trends and movements. Somehow, the iconic rocker always managed to be cited as a leader or influence. And up until his passing last month, Reed was still going strong, still challenging his audience and still making an intellectual and trend-setting statement.

Reed’s career begin in the mid-60’s as frontman of The Velvet Underground. While most bands of the time were drenched in psychedelia and trying to play louder than their predecessors, Reed and his bandmates were taking an intellect in rock and roll to a whole new level, birthing the sub-genre of art rock.

The Velvet Underground were, at the time, rock’s best-kept secret. With themes of sex, drugs and violence, it certainly wasn’t very in step with much of the “hippie” movement. They were arguably the first cult band, with a devoted underground audience despite a serious lack of national radio play or television exposure. In a pre-Internet world, they were among the first acts to connect others like-minded, one a smaller yet wide-ranged scale, selling only 30,000 copies of their debut album. As Brian Eno was once famously said, “…everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

Their association with Andy Warhol and their artsy approach gained the band even more popularity throughout three studio albums in the late 60’s and lasted long after the group disbanded in 1970.

Reed’s career was far from over after The Velvet Underground. He took the world by surprise in 1972, releasing two of rock’s greatest masterpieces, his self-titled solo debut and the David Bowie and Mick Ronson co-produced Transformer. Transformer was arguably the first glimpse of Gothic rock, featuring Reed on the cover donning black clothing and eyeliner. The album’s smash hit, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” was a dark and ironic tune, paying homage to all the misfits and freaks that surrounded The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol in the late 60’s.

The following year, Reed took steps into progressive rock, releasing the concept album, Berlin. Darker than Transformer, Berlin told the story of two junkies in love in the city of Berlin. Songs of severe drug addiction, prostitution and suicide further expanded Reed’s fascination with the darker side of the human experience.

By 1975, Reed released another critical work, Metal Music Machine. Although the album was considered a commercial failure and sold poorly compared to Transformer and Berlin, it’s influence spread wider than originally imaged. The album consisted heavily of electronic noise and feedback; a stark contrast to his well-produced earlier solo works. However, the album’s noisiness went on to heavily inspire early NYC punk/alternative acts like the Talking Heads, as well as entire sub-genres such as noise rock and proto-industrial.

Reed’s experimentation, both sonically and lyrically, continued over the next 30 years. With the occasional commercial successes and the equally occasional commercial flops, Reed always managed to remain relevant through out the ages. Punks admired his ambition and lack of interest to play nice with the music industry. Acts as diverse as Iggy Pop, The Flaming Lips, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and Jane’s Addiction all cite Reed, as well as The Velvet Underground, as critical influences on their music.

His final musical stand came as a very unlikely collaboration when he teamed up with metal icons Metallica in 2009. He first performed with them at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s 25th Anniversary Concert, and later announced he would be recording an entire album with them. The result was 2011’s Lulu. The album, based on a late-1800’s German play, went straight to number one on the Billboard charts. However, the album was quickly deemed a critical and commercial flop. Both parties stood behind the project, as Reed again managed to challenge his audience, whether they liked it or not.

Reed’s unrelenting search for thought-provoking and challenging artistic statements were ultimately the reason for his long-lasting relevance and his wide-spread influence. Reed never tamed himself and never necessarily gave his fans the music they were expecting to hear next. It’s because of his ambition and fearlessness that he remains a true icon, visionary, and the King of Cool. Even after his death, as long as rock and roll is still kicking, his life and influence will continue to be celebrated.


By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

The first true Science Fiction show. The first Science Fiction fandom.

Pop culture owes so much to a little under-produced British television series called Doctor Who, which made its debut Nov. 23, 1963. With its 50th anniversary special just a few weeks away, there are some that might be intimidated to just jump in and watch without a “History of,” or a proposed list of “catching up” episodes. Though BBC America has had specials all year featuring the personality and contributions each facet of this timeless alien, The Doctor, has undergone, it is nice but not necessary.

“The Doctor,” (name unknown, hence his being referred to as “Doctor Who”) is an alien from Gallifrey, the planet of the Time Lords. Time Lords are able to not only travel time and space but can to regenerate their lives approximatley 12-13 times. The show’s mastermind Steve Moffat isn’t always clear to us on this matter.

Each incarnation of the Doctor is played by a different actor who presents their own interpretation of the character. The show saw much success and influence with British children and many musicians in the 60’s and throughout the 70’s and 80’s the show became a British staple. With the end of the 7th Doctor’s tenure, the show went off air but was briefy revamped in the late 90’s with a feature film featuring an 8th Doctor (a great place for new comers). Its success and the buzz it generated led to the show being relaunched completely (this time with AMAZINGLY high production) with a new 9th Doctor in the 00’s. The new Doctor Who featured complicated story archs and new, more involved travelling companions.

As far as a true “history of…,” it would be impossible to discuss the range of influences this program and its thought-provoking idea/ls have had on any number of creative mediums, or even actual science, in the last 50 years but its influence in recent years alone has spawned a loyal fandom which is far from anything lukewarm.

You either love The Doctor or you don’t.

While fads come and go in entertainment, and the recent popularity? (shakes head) of “geekdoms,” a concern for yours truly, usually people who truly grasp onto Doctor Who are quite changed. But fandom is not about collections, it is not about who has seen the most episodes and it sure is not about a geekdom which is now maybe something amusing on primetime but that might lose its “coolness” overnight with the next fad or social phenomenon. NOR is it about the previous “laughing at” and now “laughing with” a geek of said interest, or any interest. It shouldn’t be. The Doctor would not say that. None of these things matter in all of Time and Space.

However, shows like Doctor Who, along with a small handful of other highly influential series, have seen die-hard fandom endure. Nowadays, fandom has gone mainstream. The influence of popular comic books that have been turned into blockbusters, along with the popular graphic novel The Walking Dead seeing a successful run on television, has seen fandom widely acceptable by the masses.

The upcoming 50th Anniversary special is going to examine “who” this entity of the Doctor really is. His culminated nature, his “name” and what he has done throughout history in “his name.” What does he mean to the Universe (real or imagined)? And as such, this cultural historian really has little to say for a “History of…” because as compared to more longstanding fans, whatever I say would be trite. Though much research has been done prior to this article and really as soon as “fandom” hit with MY “first doctor,” the 9th Docotr played by Christopher Eccleston. But again that is not the point of this fandom of Whovians. It shouldn’t be because it is not the message of the Doctor nor his archetype. Yes, it can be intimidating even though one might have heard great things about the series being thought-provoking, about the endless possiblities posed by time and space travel and the 900 year old alien entity that shared his experiences with little old humans because he chose to. In the series, the Doctor chose to see the good and foster it in this imperfect race. But when one jumps in and finds that yes, there are complicated story arcs but the average episode, any episode, can intrigue a new viewer to watch and crave more. Similarly to novellas.

Fandom. Merchandise. While it is nice to have something one likes become more accessible, one must beware the capitalism. Not “Capitalism” in a broad sense, but by other fans’ capitalization. The, “Oh yeah, I’m a geek too” that a Whovain might hear at say, a convention or even in a more average mundane place. And just proceed with the mission of well, watching the show.

Having said this, a recommended list of books about Doctor Who will not be provided. Although there are some great ones, there are many bandwagon sensationalists that are, again, capitalizing on die-hard fans’ commitment. To truly appreciate the program, one must simply watch it. Watch it alone. Watch it with others. But don’t watch it out of peer pressure or because geekdoms are cool right now and the other geeks are tweaking over it. Don’t believe the hype!

So without further ado, in addition to watching the show, I present some media in appreciation of the Whoniverse in its most basic, honest and/or comical manner.

With love, Ms. Rose

Fandom Picks:

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

For some, Science Fiction is more than merely science fiction. It is a way of life. The philosophies often found in most Science Fiction works often represent a strong sense of morality, diplomacy, democracy and idealism. Often times, where other artistic mediums appear to be hypocritical and/or biased, Sci-Fi has always held it’s ground, all while providing a strong sense of intellect and excitement.

From the practically Christ-like morals of The Doctor (Doctor Who) to the balance of the Force (Star Wars) and the Enterprise’s galactic mission of peace and diplomacy (Star Trek), Sci-Fi franchises, no matter how violent or futuristic, still stress the importance of good triumphing over evil. This is a facet to Science Fiction that artist Larry Lee Moniz finds both inspiring and crucially important.

“Well, I think outside the obvious escapism, I like Sci-Fi when good is conquering evil, the wrong gets set right. Sci-Fi with a message of good vs. evil,” said Moniz. “To quote Craig Ferguson, a HUGE Doctor Who fan, ‘Intelect and Romance over Brute Force and Cynicism.'”

Moniz is a San Francisco-based graphic artist and huge Sci-Fi fan. His love for the genre and its principles came from a very early age.

“I was drawing pictures of spaceships and robots since I was able to pick up a pencil!” explained Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

He quickly turned his admiration of particular Sci-Fi works into inspiration, that have ultimately paved the way to his career.

“I got through art school essentially making every project I could about Sci-Fi! Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost In Space, Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was never at a loss for material for my assignments!” Moniz said.

Through his art, Moniz proves that great appreciation can be converted into inspiration, ultimately making for intense creativity. And, as he stated, there is more than just escapism to the high fantasy genre. There is the ability to connect with others, and on very artistic fronts.

The multi-talented Moniz offers some of his most interesting works, including his original reinterpretation of the Doctor Who theme song.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Giger designing the iconic creature from the "Alien" franchise.
Giger designing the iconic creature from the “Alien” franchise.

Hans Rudolf Giger, better known as H.R. Giger, is a Swiss-born conceptual artist who’s designed some of Hollywood’s most terrifying images. Giger, born in Chur, Switzerland in 1940, is also behind some of the music industry’s most eyebrow-rising album art. Taking inspiration from the horror-fiction works of H.P. Lovecraft and images associated with the Necronomicon, as well as his own night terrors, Giger has been Hollywood’s go-to artist for the gruesome and macabre for over 40 years.

Giger began his career in the movie industry as a director, making small horror-tinged sci-fi films in his native Switzerland. He broke on to the international scene most notably for his work on the 1979 blockbuster, Alien. He designed the notorious monster after sketching down one of his own night-terrors, an ailment of which he frequently suffered. The Alien monster has become synonymous with the multi-million dollar franchise.

The Alien monster created by Giger.
The Alien monster created by Giger.

Aside from the Alien franchise, Giger has been involved in several major movies over the decades. He’s responsible for the most terrifying imagery in the horror flicks Poltergiest II: The Other Side and Killer Condom. He’s also credited for designing the Batmobile from 1995’s Batman Forever. Most recently, his original designs were credited in the 2012 horror/sci-fi Alien-precursor, Prometheus, and has been a creative consultant behind the computer game, Dark Seed.

Giger is also well-known in the music industry for creating some of the most controversial album artwork ever released by major labels. He’s the mastermind behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, which had to be edited due to its overtly sexual explicitness. He also designed the limited edition poster (rows of copulating genitalia) that was included in vinyl copies of the Dead Kennedys 1985 release Frankenchrist, which resulted in the arrest of the band’s frontman, Jello Biafra. More recently, Giger has designed a custom microphone stand depicting a naked woman for KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis and has a line of custom-designed signature guitars from Ibanez.

Giger believes that despite the dark and menacing tones behind his work, beauty can be found.

“Some people say my work is often depressing and pessimistic, with the emphasis on death, blood, overcrowding, strange beings and so on, but I don’t really think it is. Some people would say my paintings show a future world and maybe they do, but I paint from reality. There is hope and a kind of beauty in there somewhere, if you look for it,” said Giger in an interview with TIME Magazine.