Vincent Sammy is a freelance illustrator and full time graphic designer. He specialises in alternative worlds, horror and sci-fi illustration and has done work for Something Wicked, Black Static and Jurassic.
What first drew you to horror illustration?
VS: Well I’ve always been doing illustration work that was on the surreal side. I didn’t really see it as horror illustration at the time, but looking back I guess a lot of what I did could fall within that genre. I always liked visual imagery that had a visceral impact, something that caused an immediate unease. What inspired me most was the imagery in horror and surreal movies. They tended to create a feeling of discomfort more that static images could and so I try to find a way of tapping into that mind-set. It’s about getting a static image to have enough visual substance to tell a story by itself and in doing so, be able to relay an emotional impact.
When Something Wicked, a local horror and fantasy magazine came along, I jumped at the opportunity to do illustration work for this new fledgling publication. It is one of the only magazines of its kind here in South Africa. After that, other opportunities came along such doing work for Black Static and Fantasy Faction.
VS: Genesis Jack o’ Lantern seems to be the one image that most people really seem to love. It was an image I did to illustrate a story by the same name in Something Wicked. The editor, Joe Vas, liked it so much that he put it on the cover of that particular issue. I think people like it because it has a tension in it between innocence and impending violence.
Other work that I am also proud of is Bonefire which ended up as a set piece on the Movie Chronicle, the cover of Something Wicked #13, Herman’s Bad Seed, and the Black Static illustration for the story ‘The Curtain Parts’.
Talk us through your artistic style.
VS: My artistic style is one that combines traditional media with digital media. The traditional side of it is however the most important part to me. I usually work in watercolours or pencils before scanning the image to be digitally enhanced in Photoshop. When I do commissioned work for specific stories, I usually try and find the angle that I feel will have the most impact. This is often not the most dramatic scene, but usually a scene that defines the essence or heart of the story.
What are you working on at the moment?
VS: At the moment I am working on two pinup illustrations for a comic book anthology called Velocity which is a South African/Australian publication. I am doing illustrations that are inspired by 70s and 80s pulp sci-fi book covers and movie posters, with a modern day body horror slant. Kinda like Barbarella through the lens of director David Cronenberg.
VS: There are a lot of artists I admire including the horror ones from Hieronymus Bosch to Chad Michael Ward.
How much detail do you like to put into your graphic depictions of horror and how much do you imply?
VS: I like to include as much detail as possible in order to convey the implied horror that lies within. I’m still searching for that illusive image that would scare the hell out of people in the way that a truly great horror/suspense movie can, but it is a rather difficult thing to do due to the static nature of illustration. At best I guess creating disturbing imagery is the most I can hope for.
Why will people like your work?
VS: I think people would like what I do because I always try to do things that haven’t been done before. A vast majority of illustration does come across like regurgitated imagery that you’ve seen a million times before. So even though it isn’t always possible to be 100% original in your ideas as there is such a vast amount of creative people out there, I still attempt to create imagery that is unique.
What makes a good piece of art?
VS: That would be any artwork that drags an emotion from its viewer and has the ability to tell a story within the context of that one captured moment.
VS: New digital media will always provide new opportunities. The media does not create the artwork. Only an artist can do that no matter how sophisticated the software is.
It is the artist behind the artwork that defines the vision that people see. They will always be drawn to encountering the work of specific artists, and no new tech, no matter how advanced can replicate the ability to have vision… although I have been wrong before.
Recommend a graphic novel.
VS: Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth. Takes a new spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.