Friday, March 25, 2016

Artist Interview with Chantel Harding

Chantel Harding of Bedlam Originals at Captain's Comic Expo

I actually discovered Chantel's work while browsing through the Charleston's Craigslist artist postings. Her website blew me away with the crazy stuff on there. Grotesquely twisted clowns, bug eyed baby dolls, and an obsession with the macabre. I knew right away I wanted to pick this chick's brain. Here's a few questions I decided to ask Chantel about her process and philosophies about the act of creation, and all the twisted results in between.

 What is your earliest art memory?

I'm going to say around the age of when you start coloring on walls. I did that as a kid for just a bit. Then, my mom bought me some paper to doodle on and well, here I am now. 

What is your favorite media? Why?

Gosh, this is a really hard question to answer. I love all types really, well the ones I know how to use. Still haven't mastered graphic arts. But personally, I'm going to pick sculpture. I'm very hands on, so I enjoy picking and pulling apart, using tools on objects, and assembling them into something crazy. 

What is your "art philosophy?"

Art should entice the viewer. I always believe that art should grab a person and draw them near. Art should cause feeling in the audience. Create emotions that some people didn't think they had inside anymore. That is what I try to achieve. 

Has your art ever taken you down a path in life you didn't expect?

I never thought I'd be doing multimedia work. When I was younger I was set on the path of becoming a comic book illustrator only. But one simple sculpture in college and here I am making dolls and creatures. 

Do you have any artistic weaknesses?

Oh lord. Weaknesses, ok, here we go.  Artist and Craftsman in Charleston, horrible place to go because I never want to leave. $300 and 4 hours later, it's definitely a weakness I have. And supply stores, I can't say no to. Even Lowe's or Home Depot, so many things to create with.  

Where does your inspiration come from?

The vast unknown and the abnormal. Anything that has to do with anomalies or just anything bizarre that makes people gasp and get shocked, I crave. That's why horror is my favorite genre. I'll admit there's some movies that scare my face off and I just can't. Creature features sure thing. But when we get into ghosts, etc, I'm out. Nope. No thank you. A zombie is easy to get rid of, but the spirit of a 300 year old vengeful house demon ghost, needs more then some salt and holy water. The only ghosts I can handle are my favorites, Barbara and Adam from Beetlejuice. I just really like Tim Burton. I feel inspired by anything the world has to offer if it makes me feel something and grabs me. But not physically grab me as in a ghost grab. More like a pulling me into its creative center. 

Describe a moment when you suddenly realized that art was something you wanted to do with your life.

I've always been artsy all my life. It wasn't until high school where I got into a local art show, which spawned the idea of being a full time artist. The experience was really inspiring for me. 

Do you have a least favorite medium to work with?

Oil paint is hideous because I'm a fast worker. I like painting something and it be dry in like 30 minutes, not almost a week. Plus, turpentine is very smelly. Pastels and charcoal- I can't stand all that chalky dust. Even though I've worked with wood and other materials that have dust, chips, flakes etc, for some reason pastel and charcoal just don't work for me.

Think fast.. if you were any type of art supply, which would you be?

Super glue, because almost everything I make includes super glue

What is one piece of artwork that you are completely proud of?

I have a lot, actually. But recently, I'll say my baby twisty doll. Only because it's become somewhat of a little celebrity, even causing John Carroll Lynch himself to comment on the doll. He has a wonderful home now and I'm very proud of the success I've captured with the piece. 

What are your artistic influences?

As a kid, I would watch Tales from the Crypt which would scare the hell out of me, but for some reason would watch it still. I loved Goosebumps a lot. I was a hard core R.L. Stine fan, had like all the books, books on tape, I even had this sweet Goosebumps play house thing that glowed in the dark. R.L. Stine was like a prequel to me enjoying Stephen King later on. I'm influenced by many things in life. Mostly horror though. When I say I only celebrate Halloween because it's the only awesome holiday I believe in, I mean it. My love of Tim Burton has been from the time as a kid when Nightmare Before Christmas came out. I had the VHS and would wear it out- the tape barely played anymore. And Jim Henson I've always loved mostly for Labyrinth. That was my other video I'd watch over and over. But if I were to list all my influences, you'd really need more room on your website so I will keep it short.

Can you think of an artwork that you consider a masterpiece?

"Head of Medusa" by Caravaggio. 
I like to think Medusa is reacting to Chantel's artwork. 

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