By Taryn Newton-Gill
Few holidays spawn as much chilling creativity as Halloween. With rituals spanning cultures both ancient and modern, this darkest of days never fails to summon the most bewitching artistic alchemy, from the spellbinding occult to the hauntingly undead. If you find your soul longing to possess some Halloween spirit (and some great costume inspo), we suggest you put down your Pumpkin Spice latte and treat yourself to some of these dark artists’ work. Just think of it as a walk through your very own RAW-nted House…(cue evil laugh sound bite – mwahahahahahahah!!!).
PHOTOGRAPHY - Making the top of our RAW-nted list is photographer Karen Jersyk, who captures the veritable spirit of Halloween with her eerily beautiful images. A nude (and seemingly malnourished) body strewn upon the stairs of an abandoned building, an unnaturally tall woman in the snow next to a dinosaur whose bones are aflame, and a white-eyed woman with hands grabbing her from all directions are just some of the spooky images that Karen has conjured. Drawn to photography as a way of expressing her deepest feelings, Karen reminds us that art is still the best medicine for clearing out our inner cobwebs.
CRAFT – Nothing screams Halloween quite like that famous mask our friend Jason wears in those freaky Friday the 13th flicks, and yet RAW artist Darrin Willgues of Ghoulish Creations has managed to take killer costumes to the next level with masks that make Jason look like a girl next door. Darrin, who considers himself a “versatile horror artist,” decks his masks out with “ghoulish,” ritualistic-looking insignia, including darkened eyes and decaying teeth, while others are adorned with silver spikes jutting out in every direction. Some even have dried blood around the mouth (in case they weren’t frightening enough already). A costumer, prop-maker and makeup artist, Darrin has lent his sinister talents to a variety of shorts and horror films, giving life to creepy characters everywhere. Let’s just say, if you see him out on Halloween day, you may want to trick-or-treat the other way.
MAKEUP – Speaking of spooky, few art forms bring the undead to life like makeup does. Using the body as a living carcass—er, canvass—makeup’s ability to transform is downright magical, and Halloween is the very pinnacle of its sorcery. Take makeup artist Cassidy Walker, for example, who can create the effect of a bloody neck gash with the illusion of exposed layers beneath the skin, seeping into a decomposing face.
Special effects artist Alondra Candela can bring out the wicked in anyone with some slimy scales and a classically crooked nose. Artist Samantha McDaniel can create cracked skin like Monet could color-blend, and SFX artist Lainie Garcia can make you look so old you may very well pass for dead.
Of course, what would the day of the dead be without a tribute to some Dia de Los Muertos artistry? Artist Milly Henry channels the iconic look with a skeletal bride and groom, while Gabby Simonis slays the popular floral homage ala Frida Khalo. MUA Jessica Hidalgo goes for a more experimental muerto style, with jack-o-lanterns, sunflowers, and melting faces galore.
BODY PAINTERS – Taking all of this makeup talk to the next level are RAW’s body painters, whose skills are nothing if not supernatural. Who even needs a costume when body painters like artist Whitney Myers from Body Painting Nashville can create the illusion of an entire Steampunk outfit, scale you like an Iguana, or transform you into a walking mural?
SFX artist Kalypsoh is equally enchanting, invoking the disturbing to the mythical with her set of killer skills. Bloody fangs, skeletal faces, and hybrid human-animals are just a few of the figures that she brilliantly brings back to life on Halloween. Not to mention her food carcasses – arms overflowing with macaroni and thighs filled with bloody spaghetti and meatballs … hungry, anyone?
FASHION – Last (but certainly not least), if you are a fan of the most classic of Halloween customs—dressing up—we have a feast for you here as well. This time-honored tradition dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would dress in costume to trick dead spirits into thinking they too were ghosts, thereby ensuring the real ghosts would treat them nicely and not hurt them (or whatever it is ghosts do).
Had fashion designer YaaSerwaah Akuoku (of Haus of YBA) been designing for Samhain, the spirits would most certainly have been fooled, with her use of experimental materials like netting and tubing, her epic needlework, and of course her playful use of accessories like abstract Goggles and ornate masks. Designers Clara Lim and Rose Kim (Rosepany) would have also given those spirits a run for their money. From whimsical ruffled old-school dresses flowing with flowers to epic Asian-inspired headdresses, their costumes tell entire stories unto themselves. (Plus the models all have that creepy doll vibe going on).
And yet, if Samhain had handed out awards for Super Scary Costume of the Year, it most definitely would have gone to L Olivier, a designer who creatively appropriates everyday objects like detached, bloodshot eyeballs to adorn her costumes, and whose fuzzy furs and bright colors are reminiscent of characters from Monsters Inc. – awesome and a little scary all at the same time. Whatever you decide to wear this Halloween, if it’s half as good as any of these artists’ work you’ll have those old ghosts flying back to that ancient Samhain festival in no time.