Featured Artist Interview February 2016: Grayson Fogg

To find where Grayson Fogg sells his wares visit him artist page on HAB. 

Interview with Grayson Fogg of The Autumnlands:

At what age did you discover your love of Halloween?

Very early on. At seven years old I remember absolutely loving a Halloween song our class sang close to Halloween…and not understanding why we couldn’t keep singing it the rest of the year. On a similar note, people seemed puzzled that I drew skeletons and black cats and pumpkins all year round, when for me it was perfectly natural.

What is your fondest Halloween memory?

That’s a toughie. I’ll go with what is probably a common answer–I can’t pick just one. But stand-outs include going to the pumpkin patch every year, where they had a “haunted” haystack tunnel complete with spooky sounds on a poorly-hidden cassette player, and a yearly scarecrow contest. There’s just nothing compared to going to a real pumpkin patch to pick out your own pumpkin, especially when the weather cooperates and it’s cool and overcast, with that damp-earth-and-decomposing-leaves smell of fall in the air.

Then there was the time a friend’s dad drove us way out in the boonies–literally following a waving searchlight to an isolated old house in the middle of acres of empty land, where we stood in line outside a charity haunted house built not in a school cafeteria or a strip mall space, but in AN ACTUAL, SPOOKY OLD HOUSE! There was a cemetery outside, and scary sounds and music over loudspeakers to get everyone in the mood (and challenge our nerves).

And for sheer childhood, Halloween joy, you can’t beat riding around on your bike IN COSTUME the afternoon of the big night, feeling the crisp wind in your crepe hair (or streaming bandages, or usually ill-fitting clothes, or over your crudely-made-up skin), anxious for Trick-or-Treating to start but not wanting it to ever end…

How do you celebrate Halloween?

Sadly, these days Halloween has largely been taken away from me. My wife and I were forced to move to a neighborhood that shuns the holiday, so all the yard decorating and dressing up and passing out candy is a thing of the past. We at least try to visit the pumpkin patch and one or two haunted houses every year, but I miss the old days, really being involved with the season. It was always fun trying to make the yard display spooky enough for the adults but not too scary for the kids.

When did you start creating in your medium and what training have you had?

As with my “old” career (writing and illustrating comics, under my real name, Richard Moore) I have zero training. I was once called “un-
teachable”, so that may be part of it, though hopefully I’m not nearly so headstrong these days. Oddly enough, even though I loved drawing and doing Halloween-oriented crafts as a child, it never occurred to me that it was possible to do that for a living. Then I stumbled across Scott Smith’s amazing work, and discovered that there were people out there calling themselves Halloween artists. It was one of those forehead-smacking moments–why didn’t I think of that? So when I left comics a few years back, I decided to give it a try. I’ve been experimenting with various media ever since. Someday I’ll figure out what I’m doing.

What was the inspiration to create what you create and when did you know you wanted to create Halloween?

I’ve always had some trouble giving myself “permission” to create what I like; I struggle with the impulse to please, to tailor my work to garner approval. I suppose all artists do to a certain extent, but ultimately you have to develop your own voice. With the Halloween art, I wasn’t comfortable taking the plunge and indulging that part of myself until I formed the concept of The Autumnlands–that there’s this place, this parallel world, where all our images of Halloween come from–and felt that I could truly contribute to the tradition and the common experience of Halloween. I’m also working on several children’s books and illustrated YA novels set in that world. I’d be thrilled if I could create something as profoundly attached to the season and fondly thought-of as Ray Bradbury’s work or It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. That would be amazing.