To celebrate International Women’s Day we had the great pleasure of interviewing artist Abigail Larson. Abigail’s art brings a Victorian Goth sensibility to many literary characters both fictional and real. Since we here at Nightmarish Conjurings are avid fans of Poe, Lovecraft, and all things macabre it seems only fitting to celebrate another talented female artist making a name for herself. Without further adieu, here’s Abigail:
NC: What does being a woman in horror mean to you?
AL: Like anyone in any profession, it’s important that my work speaks for me. Working in the horror field it can be tough to be taken seriously when asking someone about “women in horror” they think of vulnerable, scantily clad girls running around the screen screaming their lungs out, instead of, say, Millicent Patrick, Gloria Holden, Mary Harron, or Jennifer Kent. It’s taken decades to flip our roles around, and to me, being a woman in horror simply means to create art that tells a good, scary story - and tell it in my own way.
NC: Who is your Gothic era (or literary era) kindred spirit?
AL: I’m not sure who my kindred spirit from the literary era would be - I’d like to think someone like Mary Shelley (who was incredibly talented and intelligent and had a wonderful dark streak) or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who was also talented and intelligent but also had the openness of mind to believe in fairies and spirits).
NC: Since so much of your work is based on novels, what about the written word inspires you so much?
AL: Well, it’s all about imagination, really. Like most readers, I love to imagine what characters and scenes look like, and I simply draw based on what I’m reading. It’s especially fun when there’s less description and I can have more freedom with designing the world an author has constructed.
NC: Out of all the pieces you’ve illustrated, which one do you feel you connect to the most?
AL: That’s a really tough question! Each piece - from start to finish - I feel a new and strong connection to, because each piece requires research and study. When I look back on them, I think of where I was at the time, and what it took to finish it. But I think the pieces I feel the most invested in, or the most connected to are my Poe and Lovecraft portraits. I’ve spent several years working and re-working them, and they mean a lot to me.
NC: Edgar Allen Poe and Lovecraft are just two examples of tortured souls that you find inspiration from. Do you feel like you are drawn more to those who have had a darker more tormented past?
AL: I don’t know if it’s their past I’m drawn to - it’s really their work that hooked me at an early age. Poe was certainly an author I was drawn to when I was young, having picked up “The Black Cat” and being simultaneously enthralled and horrified for the first time in my young life. And I was gifted a copy of Lovecraft’s works when I was a teen, and I just fell right into each story. They pull you into this strange world where gods and monsters walk alongside man - it’s just something I was (and still am) drawn to!
NC: Was your family influential in introducing you to the work of Poe, Lovecraft, and The Brothers Grimm?
AL: Not particularly. My dad’s an archaeologist and my mom’s an historian - and while they both did their best to educate me in the ways of proper scientific books and classic literature for young girls (Heidi, Little Women, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden etc.) it was my plain old boring public school that opened my eyes to the wonders of dark literature. I had a wonderful lit teacher in the seventh grade, and she would turn off the awful overhead fluorescent lights and turn on audiobook cassettes of “Frankenstein” and “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe” and other classics for us to listen to. It was a turning point in my life.
I don’t know if my parents ever read us any Brothers Grimm stories - I’m sure they had read the originals and decided they were unfit for children, haha! But of course we found out all about them in school. For growing up in a conservative town, we had a lot of badass female literature teachers who were all too happy to explain the bawdy and horrific meanings in our fabled classic stories.
NC: What new type of work can we expect to see from you in the upcoming future?
AL: Well, speaking of Lovecraft, I’m illustrating his “Cats of Ulthar” coming out this summer, and my first adult coloring book “Alice’s Wonderfilled Adventures” is coming out this May. I’ve also delved into the vast and terrifying world of video game and concept art (but I can’t say much more on this yet!) There’s plenty in the works! Well, speaking of Lovecraft, I’m illustrating his “Cats of Ulthar” coming out this summer, and my first adult coloring book “Alice’s Wonderfilled Adventures” is coming out this May. I’ve also delved into the vast and terrifying world of video game and concept art (but I can’t say much more on this yet!) There’s plenty in the works!
NC: Thank you so much for your time, Abigail!
If you are interested in checking out more of her work, look here: