I’ve always been a fan of horror inspired artwork. Something about it draws me in – I don’t know if it’s because I’m an artist myself but whatever the case may be I’m pretty sure it’s my Achilles heel. In March, when I was attending Monster Mania, I came across the work of Joshua Zaitz. He does 3D pop art work that is not only vibrant and fresh but absolutely beautiful. I was hooked – ESPECIALLY when I saw that he did a Sam and Gizmo. After that moment I knew I needed to interview him and find out more about his work and company, PopsicArt.
SM: Hi Josh! Thank you for joining me today! Now that I’ve successfully tracked you down in a non-stalker like way, please tell me more about PopsicArt and what inspired you to start this company.
JZ: Growin up I had always been a huge cartoon fan – Disney, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera. I have two younger brothers and I taught myself how to draw by copying some of the pictures out of their Disney books. In fact, I learned to draw hands holding things from a Disney Peter Pan book one of my brothers had. I’d always be drawing cartoons and I figured unless I got a comic strip, or wanted to be an animator, that would kind of be the end of the line for me. My understanding at the time was that “art” featured realistically drawn people – something I just wasn’t good at. Summers in college I was working as a counselor for a teen travel program. We spent a lot of time on the road visiting different sites. Inevitably we’d wind up in a mall somewhere. One of my co-counselors, who was older than me, collected artwork for his home in Staten Island. Whenever the camp went to the mall this other counselor and I would make sure to check out any art galleries. He introduced me to Charles Fazzino’s work; which is very cartoony. I learned cartoon artwork can be just as accepted as other forms of art. A few years later, and after countless hours of practicing cutting and pasting, I opened PopsicArt.com.
SM: Clearly your work is inspired by pop culture and there are a lot of horror icons seen throughout your work. Have you always loved horror? Do you tend to focus more on horror than just pop culture?
JZ: I’ve always loved horror but I have a pretty wide range of taste in pop culture. I love old product advertisements from the late 1950s and 1960s. I love Googie Architecture like in the old, classic Wildwood, NJ motels or the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. I love the way certain products look; an original Nintendo controller, Converse Chuck Taylor Hi-Tops, a can of Pabst beer. I started focusing more on horror themes after my brothers and I attended horror conventions and then, eventually, started being vendors. Now, I’d say my artwork features about 60% horror and 40% other pop cultures.
SM: As your business has grown have any celebrities purchased your work?
JZ: I’m not aware of any celebrities purchasing my artwork but I know at conventions lots of people buy my artwork and then go and have it signed by some of the celebrities who are attending. I love when customers send me photos of the celebrity signing one of my pieces. I’ve seen photos of Adam West, Burt Ward, Sid Haig, the Grady Twins from “The Shining,” Robert, Englund, Quinn Lord, Chris Sarandon, – Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie and Akihiro Kitamura from “The Human Centipede” signing my artwork. I know there are others as well.
SM: Have you reached that point where you have received any crazy fan stories?
JZ: I don’t really have any crazy fan stories. I’m just happy that people collect my artwork. I have a few regulars who always visit my booth at conventions. Sometimes, they point to the different pieces I have on display and tell me which ones they own. I always ask them to email me photos of the artwork hanging up. I love when people share their photos.
SM: It must be such an amazing feeling to see your artwork hung in so many people’s homes. Circling back to horror, who is your favorite Universal Monster and/or slasher icon?
JZ: I’m not a huge Universal Monsters fan but I think the Creature from the Black Lagoon is really cool looking. There are so many slashers to choose from: Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, Leatherface. I think all of them are awesome but Freddy definitely is a cut above the rest. He’s got personality. He’s witty.
SM: Having been to your vendor booth at Monster Mania, it’s clear that you create A LOT of different types of 3D art. Is there something that you would like to create that you haven’t already?
JZ: I’d really like to work on more cityscapes. I have a few NYC pieces and I’ve done parts of Vegas and San Francisco in the past but I’d really like to tackle more cities. I’m also a huge theme park fan and I’d love to replicate some of the theme park maps. We’ll see. Some of those roller coast tracks are drawn so small and skinny. I think It’d be nearly impossible to cut them out and glue them to make them 3D.
SM: I have to ask, as it’s one of the most important questions, what is your favorite scary movie?
JZ: I don’t know if I have just one favorite. I think the scariest is “The Shining.” I first saw it at my uncle’s house when I had to be 7 or 8; way too young. The Grady Twins really scared me. Even now, if I happen to catch parts of the movie on TV, those two girls still creep me out. As far as franchise movies from the 80′s, it’s hard to top the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I really like the third one as well. With more recent horror movies, I’m a big fan of “The Human Centipede” as well as “Hostel.”
SM: I’m pretty vocal about my hate of “The Human Centipede” so we will skip over that and I won’t hold it against you. Now that we know some of your favorite scary movies, does anything scare you?
JZ: Aside from the Grady Twins? I really don’t like to climb up ladders. I don’t really have a fear of heights, just a fear of falling off a ladder. It’s a little weird. We have this huge 14-foot ladder at home that I use when I clean the gutters. I hate walking up it. I almost always get the sensation that I’m going to fall. My wife has offered to clean the gutters instead of me – which is very nice of her – but I don’t want to give into a stupid ladder fear. I guess I’ll never be a fireman.
SM: When it comes to your art, do you have a favorite piece of work that you have done that you refuse to sell?
JZ: I actually don’t keep or hang up any of my artwork. There are so many other artists whose work I adore – Romero Britto, Dave Perillo, Mike Bell, Tom Whalen, Laurent Durieux. I have some of their artwork hanging in my house.
SM: What type of work can we expect from you in the future?
JZ: Although it has nothing to do with horror, I’d really like to write and illustrate a children’s book. I did one a few years ago that was published digitally but I’d really like to write one that’s actually printed. If you know a children’s book publisher I’d love to discuss my ideas with them.
SM: I, unfortunately, do not know of any children’s book publishers, however if I run into one I will make sure to pass your name along! Last but not least, what is the one thing people don’t know about you that you would be willing to share with your fans?
JZ: When I’m cutting my artwork, I use a cuticle scissor because the tip of the scissor is very narrow and sharp. It helps when cutting out details. But, I have very fat fingers. They just barely fit in the finger holes of the cuticle scissor. I have to take a break from cutting every 10-15 minutes because the fingers holes are actually cutting into my fingers. It’s very painful. I wish they sold cuticle scissors with different size finger holes. They have small, medium and large sizes for other things. Why not cuticle scissors? Maybe that’s something I should work on next instead of a children’s book.
SM: Do you hear that cuticle scissor makers? It’s time to step up your game and make your scissors for all shapes and sizes! Thank you so much Josh for taking the time to answer my questions and for letting us get to know more about you and your horror world. Nightmarish Conjurings is excited to see what is in store for you in the future!
If you are interested in learning more about Joshua Zaitz and PopsicArt, he can be found at the following sites. Also, exclusive to Nightmarish Conjurings’ followers is this coupon code good for $5 off any 3D pop art in PopsicArt’s shop: use coupon code nightmarish5 at checkout. (The code will expire September 15, 2015)
Facebook: PopsicArt Shop