As Women in Horror Month officially comes to a close this weekend, I’d like to share one last femme fatale deserving attention for her contributions to the field of horror and art in general: Asia Eriksen! As a wife, a mother, an artist, and a fan of horror; Asia’s work is shaped by a great variety of influences, but perhaps none more so than the horror genre itself.
As a member of the art studio, Fable Foundry, Asia has helped create some of the most sinister replicas of Freddy Krueger’s infamous Nightmare Gloves in addition to birthing her very own line of collectible horror dolls, affectionately enough called WerePups. Did I also mention that she is a poet, working on her first book, and a fan of Stephen Gammel? Read on to learn ever more!
Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your artistic background like?
I’ve always enjoyed poetry and writing stories, and I guess I have always felt the need to create whether it was trying to draw or playing music. I really enjoy being able to express myself through creativity. In my teenage years, I was playing drums in and out of bands – death metal, jam bands, classic rock cover bands, etc… I just loved to play. There was always this great feeling when I would hear a song come together, or have a family member read a story. Later on, I started building weird creatures out of animal bones, driftwood, and metal parts at work when I was doing Antique Restoration. It would be like an intense itch that every few days I’d stop working and say “I need to make something.”
It wasn’t until I met Anders and spent some time around his FX materials that I one day just grabbed a chunk of clay and started sculpting. I said “Hey…if I make something, can you make a mold of it?” Anders agreed and that’s how the first WerePup was born. I honestly never imagined that I would be so into sculpting, but I’m just in love with it now. I can’t think of anything better than putting on some good music, clearing my mind and watching a creature just begin to take shape in my hands.
What is it specifically about horror (or monsters) that appeals to you? Were you a fan of the genre as a kid?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by horror films and “spooky” things. One of my earliest obsessions was a book from the 80’s that my mom used to read me called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. The images are drawn by Stephen Gammel, who is still my favorite illustrator and, to this day, his are the only drawings that have ever made me feel genuine fear. There was one in particular of a dead woman’s rotting face… her straggly hair and hollow eyes just disturbed me right to the core. There was this incredible feeling of wrenching dread mixed with adrenaline whenever we’d read the book because I knew that every page we turned would be closer and closer to that picture. It was so horrible to me, but at the same time I just kept wanting to read that book over and over.
Those books, along with TV series’ like Tales From The Crypt and The Twilight Zone really fueled this fascination with things that are scary, and more specifically a disturbing type of scary. I started to look for that feeling more and more, and eventually I just became a complete horror nut.
I LOVE Stephen Gammel’s work! I remember one stories where spiders burst out of someone’s cheek… utterly horrifying. So how do you feel about the rising interest in women in horror over the past few years?
I think it’s fantastic. I’ve got a four year old daughter who’s already interested in making movies and I’m really happy that, if she decides to go that route, she’ll be doing it in a world where she can get inspiration and encouragement from so many strong women in the genre.
How did you become involved with Fable Foundry and Eriq Chang?
I came to know Eriq through my husband, Anders Eriksen. The two of them have been friends and creative partners for about 8 years now, producing one of today’s most popular horror collectibles, Nightmare Gloves. Much of their success is due to the dynamic art direction that Eriq provides. He brings a cinematic quality to the table so the fans are not only getting the beautiful craftsmanship of Anders’ gloves, but they’re getting it presented to them in these masterpiece collectible prints, and this online experience that feels like they’ve just entered Freddy’s boiler room. He is, by far, one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met.
I remember when I finally finished my first WerePup, and sent a picture to Eriq with my cell phone. He called me two minutes later overflowing with ideas – a life-changing moment for me because, as an artist, I greatly respect his opinion. He had so much faith in the project, and devoted time to work on it right from the beginning, coming up with amazing imagery and fantastic ideas, just as he has done for Nightmare Gloves.
I think that Fable Foundry was just something that happened because the three of us were just going along, creating this world together day by day. It was there already, but we just have a name for it now. We all three are very passionate about our own and each-others work. We each do what we do because we love it more than anything – we love to dream it up, share ideas, and create it. There really is nothing like the feeling of your own artwork making someone out there happy – just a beaming smile or a great e-mail. With Fable Foundry, the idea is to keep and enjoy that passion for what we do, and continue to produce collectibles that we can take our time to handcraft, hand paint, and really keep that personal touch.
What’s the concept behind these “Werepups” and how long have you been working on them?
Well, I’ve been fascinated with werewolves and human/animal hybrids of all sorts my entire life. The interest started with hearing stories about people who were (apparently) insane, who insisted that they would shapeshift into wolves at night. The film Silver Bullet really helped fuel the fire, and my mom introduced me to that one when I was very young. I found myself drawing Werewolves in tons of notebooks, writing werewolf stories. The idea of lycanthrope puppies was in my head for a long time – I suppose I wanted my own.
WerePups is really just my dream toy. The idea is for a werewolf baby to have that puppy-like cuteness, but still maintain a bit of creepy weirdness as well. I like to have things that remind you that this little guy is going to grow up into a ten foot monster that will shred you to pieces.
I’m really just making toys for myself, and if somebody else likes them too, I am flattered and would love to share.
When can fans expect them to be released and where can they be purchased?
We are expecting to have our WerePups.com “orphanage” up and running by April 2011, but I’ve also been doing some pre-sales for folks who are really eager to adopt. We’ll also be bringing “litters” to some great horror shows this year, including MonsterPalooza which is one of our favorites, and Days of The Dead which is a brand new show that is looking absolutely amazing so far. In the meantime, you can get updates and exclusives on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Horror can sometimes be a stereotypical genre for women, often relying on sex to sell even a strong female lead. Do you feel it necessary to blend “sexuality” and “horror” into your work? If not, how do you break from that convention?
I don’t feel like it’s necessary at all. I think that sexuality in art can be very beautiful as well, but there is a method to it, it is very different and goes much deeper than “mandatory boob shots.” A lot of it is just an example of giving audiences what they THINK they want, like something that was welcome but not necessary. These days its all over the place – we’ve got these buff male leads taking their shirts off or showing some bare butt. Sometimes it’s comical, sometimes it fits with the story and sometimes it’s just plain stupid. If you’ve got a great character inside of a great story, male or female, it’s going to be recognized and embraced no matter how much skin you see.
Who are a few other women in horror who you admire (directors, acrtresses, artists)?
Mary Shelley would have to be my favorite female writer, and director Mary Lambert for scaring the shit out of me with Pet Semetary. I really have a great admiration for actors and actresses because those are the people who give me inspiration to write stories and create interesting characters. Dee Wallace, Isabelle Adjani and Fairuza Balk… those are some very beautiful, strong actresses who I admire. I also adore Patricia Arquette! She’s got the most magnificent scream in the world.
I would have to say that my mother is my top woman in horror. She raised me on those scary stories and great old horror films. She ignored her school-teachers by writing horror stories in class. With my mom, Halloween was always bigger than Christmas, and a gnarly old tree in a cemetery or a velvet lined casket was more beautiful than a sunset.
Now that’s an awesome mom! It seems you’ve adopted some of her literary talent as well, having started work on your own book, At First Sight. What can you tell us what the book at this point?
At First Sight is a very quirky story that I came up with years ago. It’s written in prose, and its sort of a tribute to one of those stories my mom penned in class, where a woman fell in love with a man and then realized he was dead. In my story, it says that love at first sight is possible, and that “first sight” doesn’t necessarily have to be of someone with a pulse.
What else can we expect to see from the “House of Eriksen” in 2011?
We’ve got lots of stuff planned! I am working on a lot of brand new head sculpts lately, including exclusive “Hyena” and “Undead” WerePup sculpts for the upcoming Days Of The Dead show. They’re only going to be available as prizes being raffled off at the VIP party.
We are also in the process of developing a story which is based on the world of WerePups. We’ll be releasing a sort of “teaser” comic book that will introduce WerePup adopters to the series and the history behind the Orphanage.
I’m also working on a few other lines of collectibles with Fable Foundry, including a collection of mythological beasts that we should be launching this Spring at MonsterPalooza.
We’ve all been very busy, and also very excited to reveal the new projects.