Artist Alex Vincent explores the link between heavy music and scary movies
You know those fan-made movie posters that are rampant throughout the internet? Plenty are obvious fakes, but some are so convincing that they get shared around and spread like wildfire. If you've seen one of the good ones, particularly for a horror movie, chances are that it's a piece by multi-hyphenate, Alex Vincent.
The artist, musician, author, and designer has been creating horror-inspired art that draws on the nostalgia of the bygone era of the video store with an exceptional eye for detail and realism, while still packing a distinct stylistic punch.
Vincent's work includes meticulously crafted VHS and book covers for beloved horror films like Scream, Halloween, Hereditary, Insidious and countless more. His pieces capture the essence of wandering down the aisles of the local video rental store or the book fair, where the covers of scary movies or R.L Stine's Goosebumps books would both terrify and captivate you. Much like those, Vincent's art possesses the same ability to draw you in.
The quality speaks for itself, as Vincent's various cinematic artwork has gained him the attention of more than one Hollywood studio seeking to work with him. While now designing official artwork for major horror franchises and filmmakers, he's also found time to publish his first book, Blood on the Rocks: Creepy Cocktails for the Horror Enthusiast. But what may be most impressive is the fact that the artist claims he only recently began this particular journey.
Before dedicating his time to visual art, Vincent wrote and played guitar for the band Romantic Rebel, tearing up the stage with artists like Zach Myers, Gus G, and Soil, as well as playing the 2015 rendition of the Louder Than Life festival. Brought up on all things rock and cinematic by his father, Vincent has a unique and insightful perspective on what so often combines the two. In our exclusive Knotfest interview with him, he shares his thoughts on both and the surreal trajectory his passions have taken him.
What do you remember as some of your earliest exposure to scary movies?
Alex Vincent: I love that question. My love for horror began at what I believe is one of the genre's earliest beginnings, the original cinematic universe, the Universal Monsters. My dad, he's also a huge horror head, introduced me to the classics at a really young age and I fell into a deep trance with these monsters that I saw on screen. It always fascinates me because even at a young age, I never truly felt they were monstrous beings at all, but instead tortured souls that are trying to find their place in this world. They always seemed so much deeper than that. With that said, I've always felt that horror never really received the credit it deserved, of being more than just something to keep you up at night.
And then also, of course, the video store. Not only amazing memories, but also where I draw so much inspiration from were the covers I used to see that scared me. It was Child's Play 3 for me, which was just Chucky’s face with the red eyes. I was like, this is really frightening and yet very intriguing. I remember never watching it until I was much older, and I was like, this is fun. I love this.
So you got a very fundamentals introduction to horror.
Alex Vincent: I did. And it's funny, because when you're young, you just feel the fear of the movies, you don't feel anything necessarily deeper than that. But as I've gotten older and have delved further into the genre and immersed myself in it fully and goten to work in it to an extent, I love it. It offers an unorthodox form of escapism and for some creates an atmosphere that is equal parts bizarre and comforting in some ways. It's funny, because many would be like, Why would you intentionally want to get scared? Well, even the scariest movies will never be as terrifying as the horrors that inhabit the real world. I'm going to choose horror every day. I can turn it off whenever I want.
Why do you think it is that even today, horror still doesn’t feel like it gets the right kind of recognition that it deserves?
Alex Vincent: That's a great question. I think we're still trying to figure that out to this day. I don't know if there's a clear cut answer. What I can say about it is that it always seems that what's old is new again in so many ways. I do love the idea of a new generation discovering these older horror films, some well known and some more obscure. Horror has made a resurgence, no doubt it has. Which is amazing. It's great to see that there is that talk of like, Toni Collette should have been nominated for an Oscar for Hereditary. That's what I love hearing. I think that it's a new generation that wants to go to the movies with their friends and wants to go see a movie that’s gonna scare the shit out of them. I was there at one point, too. I don't think it'll ever die even though the theatrical experience may change one day. I think the idea of groups wanting to experience this together is never going to change. That's what makes it so special, ultimately.
What was the initial inspiration behind your artwork like the retro VHS and book covers?
Alex Vincent: I'm a 90s kid. So like I said, the video stores and book fairs at school. I get inspired by so many different things. It's sometimes the weirdest things ever. My dad used to have a ton of cool framed horror posters that I would just stare at for way too long. But the weird portion of it is that the inspiration sometimes has come from an expression or look that somebody gives me while I'm talking to them or it could be a word that I hear or it could be something as simple sounding as looking down at the sidewalk at a specific time and seeing like a crazy crack in the cement. That kind of looks like the torn edge of a 90s teen horror novel that you could find at a thrift store. I try not to put limits on what inspires me. If I'm feeling that creative fuel from something as strange as a crack in the sidewalk, I'm going to take it. Who knows what I'm going to end up making out of it.
What’s the process like of actually making this stuff?
Alex Vincent: It's a little bit of a secret. My creation process is never the same, even if a lot of the pieces look the same. I do usually start with photography on everything, it's just kind of the best place for me to begin. But because my creation process is never the same, it can be completely petrifying at times as well. Especially when I'm asked by a major studio to work on a major motion picture or a beloved franchise, I'm like, I have to figure this out. I need to make this work. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours to finish a piece and there are other times where those hours are spent staring at a blank Photoshop canvas. If I'm being perfectly candid about it, I kind of love the feeling of not having a single clue of what I'm going to make after accepting a big project - not knowing where or when the right idea is going to present itself. I feel like I end up creating my best work out of that and it's sort of sick and twisted in a sense that I love that pressure. I found that sometimes not planning ends up letting you just take a couple more risks that you maybe wouldn't take.
I've got a couple posters hanging out, we got like a King Kong poster over there, I've got a Shining poster that I made and a couple other posters. I'll just spin the chair around and sort of see if I can pull anything from anywhere. Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes nothing comes in the first couple of days and I take a step away from it for a while until it strikes. I usually never plan. I don't think I've ever planned a piece ever. It's like, let's just go and see what happens. You see it come together pretty quickly if you just start playing with it a little bit.
When would you say this started? Has this been going on your whole life?
Alex Vincent: I actually only started doing it this last couple years. I used to be a musician. I tried doing the whole band thing and it wasn't really working out. I was just like, I need to do something else that I love. I love horror movies. What can I do with that? Actually, it's funny, my first piece I made in the back of our van when we were touring. I had my laptop and I just started in Photoshop. It was a couple of years before Halloween 2018 came out but they had announced that they were making a new one. So I started making a fake poster for it, threw it out on the internet and then it got shared around a bunch and people thought it was real. I started doing that for a couple more years and then once we had stopped doing music, I went full force.
Sometimes I create something that gets shared around a bunch and can be seen by all sorts of different people and that's how I've gotten to work with Universal and Paramount a bunch. It's led to some really wild opportunities. I'd never connected this but creating that fake poster for the Halloween movie ended up getting me to do artwork for Halloween Kills when that came out. So that was kind of a weird full circle moment. I just wrapped stuff on Scream 2022, doing artwork for Paramount. One really neat project was getting to work with M. Night Shyamalan. We were working in close contact for this art piece for Old when that came out so that was really wild. There's some weird stuff that just makes me go wow. It started in the back of a van.
What’s it actually been like to go and collaborate with those major studios?
Alex Vincent: It's been honestly pretty amazing. That was always a dream of mine. I grew up loving these big horror franchises. Halloween is my favorite and Michael Meyers is my favorite slasher. I love Scream as well because that was the introduction of the more meta, smart horror, whatever you want to call it. It's been crazy cool. Everyone's been so cool to work with. It developed into very consistent work, which I didn't really expect to happen. I’m actually working on more stuff for Scream now for the home release. It was always a dream of mine to work in Hollywood and it seemed like a pipe dream to an extent. But I found that even though I'm not there, they've lassoed me in a little bit. I’m really happy about it, I'm holding on to that lasso.
What was it like to put your book, Blood on the Rocks, together? Have you always been a cocktail aficionado?
Alex Vincent: I kind of became one. I like a good old fashioned every once in a while. It's probably my drink of choice. The book took like a week to put together which was weird that it came together really fast. I was hanging out with some friends and we were all talking and they're like, What are you doing next? I don't really know. I'm just like, gonna put out another art print or something. I was drinking an old fashioned and looking at it. It was the weirdest revelation. I was like, I gotta go. I'll see you guys later. I went home and started making it out and I ended up creating separate art pieces for each cocktail that I came up with.
This one doesn't necessarily have a theme. I'm thinking of doing a follow up that's a slasher-based one or a 90s or 2000s ones. I want to do decades. This one was just more of a mish mosh of some of my favorite horror movies like The Shining and Candyman and American Psycho and old Frankenstein too. I threw everything in there. The cool thing is now because of the great reception from it, I'm way more inspired to do another one. I'm hoping to make that happen in the next couple months.
What kind of music did your band play?
Alex Vincent: We played hard rock music and, you know, radio rock, whatever you want to call it. It was fun, man. I always play guitar, I still play guitar. I just love it. We found how difficult the music industry was. It's just tough for a new band. We got a couple of cool opportunities. The coolest thing was playing Louder Than Life festival. I think it was 2015. That was the highlight for me. I was like, I could retire and just be happy. I think if you use a magnifying glass and you look on the poster, you can see us at the bottom somewhere.
What are some of your musical inspirations?
Alex Vincent: It's changed quite a bit. I grew up on Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith. Led Zeppelin, Alice In Chains; Facelift was a huge album for me. Def Leppard also, Hysteria was such a big album for me growing up. I loved all those bands. I still love all those bands, that will never change. It's funny how nowadays, now that I'm not in music anymore. I find myself listening to like, 60s and 50s music and then gypsy jazz, like Django Reinhardt. I love Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker and really old school piano jazz. And then I find myself listening to John Carpenter to you know, some people's force and then and I love that so, also a big like, score, guys, I'll listen to movie scores and just put it on while I work. That sometimes also helps inspire me. I feel like music will never not be a part of me. It's just changed a little bit.
With having that perspective of being a musician and working in the horror scene, what do you think it is that so often connects rock and metal fans to the horror genre?
Alex Vincent: I can tie it personally into the t-shirts. Old Metallica t-shirts and stuff like the covers of Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets look like VHS covers that you'd see at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. And I feel like vice versa - horror VHS covers could be a metal band t-shirt. It all just feels so heavy. If I can sum it up in two words, it's scary and heavy. Between the movies and the music, it's all one big adrenaline rush. It's for people who love that feeling whether you're in the pit or you're at home or in a theater watching a scary movie, it's like you still feel that same rush of adrenaline that gets you pumped. Maybe that's another part of it.
Follow him on Instagram @TheAlexVincent