We interview George Mylonas, a talented artist with a remarkable way of bringing nightmares to life, while making them retain a quiet beauty.
The great thing about horror, as a genre, is how it flows seamlessly between different medium. It isn’t just stories or movies… no, it is music and games and fashion and art! Not to be to cheesy, but simply put–brothers and sisters– horror is life!
It’s with that sentiment that makes me so happy that I was given the chance to interview the artist, George Mylonas. His works are dreamscapes that are reminiscent to the minds of HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker, but done with such skill that you would ask when did Salvador Dali have a Blood Period? I was able to have a discussion with Mylonas and talk about the inner workings of his craft — and explore horror, one artist to another.
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST GEORGE MYLONAS
Richard Tanner: So lets start simple…I’ve been looking at your art, and I’m getting some vibes from it (very dream like, or nightmare like, but still rooted in realism). What got you into doing art in a physical media? Were you self taught? Who are your influences? I guess the simple way to ask this is, what is the history of you?
George Mylonas: Thank you. I was inspired and fascinated by Giger’s works at a young age. And in my teens, my art teacher introduced me to Zdzisław Beksiński’s work. That’s when a lot of things clicked for me, and I felt like there was a connection embedded in the work. I think a work is successful when it captures that, as if to tell the viewer that the same spirits that haunt you, haunt me, too. The same worlds you’ve been to in your nightmares — I’m there with you.
These artists were who got me interested in art, but over the years so many works influenced the direction of my work that it’s difficult to trace a linear path. It’s more like tracing a cobweb.
I get a lot of my ideas from my nightmares. I don’t usually dream at all. But when I do, it’s usually a nightmare followed by sleep paralysis.
And while I do physical media work in oils, I also do digital and mixed-media. Always trying new things. Exploring. I feel like the ideal studio is an alchemist’s lab. I wouldn’t say I’m self taught exactly, since I studied art. But I studied everything that isn’t painting. I took classes in printmaking, drawing, mold-making, just about everything else that I had little experience with. From my own experience though, I think drawing was the most helpful for teaching me to see in a different way.
As for the history of me… I hesitate to say this because when I do, people’s faces change. But I had a psychotic break in my early 20s. I have various theories as to what caused it but can’t be sure that it was any one of them or all of them. It was really bad though. I lost friends and family and was put away for a few weeks. There, some of the only things they let you have are paper and pencils (which I never understood because pencils could be sharpened to a dangerous point, but I digress). I guess the point I’m trying to make is art keeps me sane.
RT: I’ve also always felt that mental trials and suffering make an artist. I definitely have that in common with you. Did you find it easier for art to improve your mood, or was it more of a way to express your feelings? Do you have any specific pieces that you remember your mindset for?
GM: It definitely helps do both. There are times where my head feels like dead weight, and I can’t get myself to talk to anyone. Art helps me take my mind off it. But near the end of the piece, it’s mostly finessing details. Your mind starts to flash with memories, and that’s when I have to put that painting down and start working on something else. Then come back to it to see if I really am done.
I remember feeling a sense of warmth when I was working on this piece.
RT: We’ve talked about the emotional catharsis of painting and art. But let’s talk about inspiration! (Too artsy, right?)
As a filmmaker, I borrow from other films and from random everyday life. Do you use models? Is it all in your imagination? Other than dreams, what is your muse?
GM: I use models and some friends as reference, but more often it’s the cracks in the sidewalk, dead leaves and severed flowers that inform the composition. I take photos on my walks and open them all up later. Just looking at them gives me ideas for shapes and compositions. Sometimes I don’t look at them at all, but I’m always looking and paying special attention to these things. The broken pieces I see are quite beautiful (not to say the models/friends are broken, they‘re the beautiful part).
RT: Hahaha! Good save on the models not being broken. Now let’s talk horror! Your stuff is definitely dark and a little macabre. That’s my bread and butter, but I know that in the film community, horror is still considered trashy (they are getting better, but not there yet). Is it the same in your field? How does this affect you? Do you get people trying to censor you or tell you it’s too gory or too dark to be taken seriously?
Btw, I do find your stuff beautiful. I’m not questioning it. Horror is the best art.
GM: Thanks! There’s always a bit of shame tied to it. I think that’s because there’s truth there. Nobody wants to confront their Jungian shadow, but horror helps people in so many ways. Sometimes it helps us deal with things, and at times it shows us we are more capable than we think. It’s my favorite genre, and it’s really unappreciated.
I keep a lot of the pieces I make private, because for some I think I went too far to show to people. It’s hard. I was also kicked out of a class in college for showing something I made involving brain surgery. But I didn’t let that bother me. They’re just having a visceral reaction without thinking about why it’s there. It’s only the times when people think I must be perverse when they see my art— that can be really embarrassing.
RT: It really sucks that people see it that way. There is beauty in it. Even the grotesque. You can’t have life without death, and it’s only natural to explore that. Let me ask one more thing before we call it quits. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to dive in to this medium?
GM: Thanks! Yeah, I think it’s only natural. The yin and the yang, the good and the bad… and the ugly.
I’d say this to anyone doing any kind of art: Make your own tools. Try making your own brushes or paints. It forms a connection, so that what you work with become extensions of you. It keeps things personal.