Interview: Abigail Larson

Born in the dark, withered forests of Virginia, Abigail was inspired to create from the time she could first hold a pen. Despite her mother’s honest attempts to curb her daughter’s bizarre affinity for imaginary monsters with classical girls’ literature, Abigail grew to love Shelley, Poe, Gorey, and classic horror movies. These days, Abigail creates art for books, magazines, albums, events, and a variety of other venues. She works in pencil, watercolour and digital media.

IFP: How did you become an illustrator?

AL: Well, I studied illustration in college and, after developing a style that I like, I created a brand for myself. I designed a website, business cards, postcards, prints, a portfolio, etc. and basically spammed a bunch of totally respectable companies with my work until they bit back.

IFP: Can you tell us about your creative process and illustration techniques? All digital? Old-fashioned ink and paper?

AL: I began drawing with ink and paper because I loved the look of Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland growing up (along with Arthur Rackham, Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, and many other pen&ink illustrators). I didn’t learn to draw traditionally until I was in high school. So, after several grueling years of re-learning to draw and paint, I went back to the simplistic, sketchy linework that I loved, and accompanied it with watercolours. In college, I learned how to use modern tools (such as Photoshop and Illustrator) to colour and manipulate my linework. The effect was a lot like the old print process that Dr. Seuss used – which I coincidentally loved for its simplicity and immediate impact. So, these days, I still draw traditionally with pencil, ink and watercolour, and finish all of my pieces in Photoshop.

IFP: How did you discover Lovecraft?

AL: Honestly, I can’t remember! I heard about the “Cthulhu” mythos and had to investigate such a thing. I bought an annotated Lovecraft anthology and I was completely hooked. I loved his stories and I loved learning about him. As a huge Poe fan, it’s no surprise I was so enraptured by Lovecraft!

IFP: Why are you attracted to horror imagery?

AL: Things like ghosts, spiritualism, death, and monsters have always sparked my interest. Though not all horror imagery intrigues me – I try to stay away from absolute gore. A motif I use in my artwork is fear. I try to turn the things we fear into something tangible – such as Death. I also love the “beauty and the beast” theme. Drawing something beautiful and something horrifying together is really just amusing to me. I think I’m attracted to the macabre because I appreciate the beauty in the strange and grotesque. I see the world differently than most people and I try to bring that vision into my artwork.

IFP: Favourite horror story?

AL: Good question! I think Frankenstein would be my favourite novel, but for short story horror, I’d go with “The Picture in the House” by Lovecraft – simply because of how much it terrified me. Lovecraft was an absolute master of tension and suspense in horror writing – and he could do it in just a few pages.

IFP: What scares you?

AL: The dark. And aliens.

IFP: What is your dream project?

AL: I’d love to design characters for movies, shows and games. I’d also love to illustrate and write my own books.

IFP: What are you working on right now?

AL: Most of my current projects are NDA because I’m under a contract. But I am working on my first children’s book and some concept art.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraftian creature or character, who would you be and why?

AL: I’d be one of the Innsmouth fish people because they’re just awesome. I’d be happy to have tentacles, live in a deserted city, waylay stranded visitors, and worship Dagon.

Abigail Larson’s work graces the cover of issue 10 of Innsmouth Magazine, to be relased next Tuesday. Find more of her illustrations online.

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IFPInterview: Abigail Larson