Interview with Justin Erickson, New Art Director for Rue Morgue Magazine

Interview with Justin Erickson, New Art Director for Rue Morgue Magazine

Last we met with illustrator/graphic designer Justin Erickson (read the interview) he and his co-conspirer, Paige Reynolds, had just launched Phantom City Creative. Since then, the duo have rocked out a buttload of horror-inspired art posters for the likes of TwitchFilm, Mondo Tees, Anchor Bay Entertainment and more. Beyond that, Erickson himself has recently stepped into the role of Art Director for Rue Morgue Magazine, a role previously held by Gary “Ghoulish” Pullin for the past 10+ years.

Luckily, Erickson was cool enough to spare a few moments from behind the desk of his new position to give us a feel for what he has in store for the mag this year and how he definitely plans on keeping the illustrative legacy left behind by Pullin intact. His first issue is due out in March.

Thanks for joining us again, Justin. How have things been going over at Phantom City Creative?

Thanks for having me, Rondal! Well, we’ve gotten a lot busier and have worked (and continue to) with some really great people. We’ve been steadily working with more filmmakers to create art for their films, also we’re working with the team behind horror comedy TV show Todd & The Book of Pure Evil on some materials, and more!

Over the course of 2011 you did several collaborations with Mondo Tees/Alamo Drafthouse. How did your relationship with them originate?

While we were doing the Back to the 80s series with Twitchfilm.com, they reached out and wanted to know if I was interested in creating a poster for them (I of course said yes). It’s been a great relationship so far and I hope it continues to be!

More recently, it was announced that you would be stepping in as the new Art Director of Rue Morgue magazine. What did you perceive as the biggest challenge coming in behind Gary Pullin?

The biggest challenge? To maintain the level of graphic quality that Gary built over his tenure at the magazine. [Being] Art Director is no easy-breezy job and he built the look and feel of the mag up over the years with blood, sweat, and more blood. So without compromising the established quality of the magazine, how do I put my own spin on it?

I’ve always joked that I’m an illustrator pretending to be a graphic designer, so the illustrative aspects of the magazine aren’t going anywhere. For me, the two go hand in hand.

In your opinion, where can fans expect the magazine to go from here?

In my opinion the magazine can only get better. It will still take an investigative look at the genre and cover wherever horror might rear its head be it film, art, literature, games and some places you might not expect.

[My favorite part of the magazine] are the features for two reasons: first, as a designer it gives me something to play with conceptually. The approach you take with say a gory zombie film can’t be the same approach you take with a thoughtful slow-burn ghost novel, so it’s fun to use different tools and moods to build up an article’s design around the subject matter. Second, as horror fan because of the variety of material covered. The magazine really takes its title “Horror in Culture & Entertainment” very seriously. You can go from the newest horror flick in theatres, to a look at an underrated author, to a museum that houses death masks in the same issue. It all falls under the banner.

Are there any magazines, in particular, that inspire you?

I try not to take all of my inspiration from other magazines because Rue Morgue would start looking like them, but the magazines I read regularly are Revolver, Royal Flush, HOW, Print, Empire, Juxtapoz and the odd random mag if they cover something I’m interested in.

In our previous interview you told our readers to “Define your goals… And don’t forget to have FUN!” Are you still having fun?

Of course! I’ve been incredibly lucky to land where I am and work with the people that I’m fortunate enough to work with. Like with anything there are good days and bad; you can’t forget your goals and what makes you really happy.


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Rondal is a full-fledged horror fan and die hard "strange kid" who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced vigor with a side of unadulterated violence. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club, a virtual clubhouse of adolescent enthusiasm in addition to being Co-Editor of Fuel Your Illustration and an occasional contributor to the video game blog, StartFrag.

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