From the Eunoia Archives: An Interview with Artist Reed Randolph

From 2013. Reed now has a website where you can see samples of his fantastic art, toy sculpting, animation, etc. Check it out!

The first place I saw Reed Randolph’s work was on Instagram. Actually, I don’t know if I saw his own work or pictures of his weird, old toys first, but I do remember this eventually leading to a conversation about Bill “Chop Top” Moseley. What set Randolph’s work apart for me was that he obviously had a deep appreciation not only for contemporary horror creators, but also a deep interest in the artists of the past. My next surprise was that he was still in high school!

Currently, Randolph is a twenty-year-old illustration student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota,  Florida. His ultimate goal is to get hired at an animation studio doing character designs, storyboards, or concept development. He also wants to work in cartooning as a producer and own a haunted attraction.

What got you started as an artist and how did your interest in horror begin?

I could draw from an early age. My mother is an artist, she supported me entirely in everything I did. From an early age I was raised on animated films and shorts, a lot of older stuff just as much as new. I grew to love early Disney shorts, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery cartoons,  Rankin/Bass, etc., etc.

Earliest known work: Ghost (pencil on drywall) Drawn by an almost-2-year-old Randolph.
Earliest known work: Ghost (pencil on drywall) Drawn by an almost-2-year-old Randolph.

From as far back as I can remember I can always recount my interest in the spooky stuff that would normally frighten children.  It didn’t really get to me. I became more and more interested in the strange and frightening; I think I might have had more Halloween cartoon VHS’s than I did Christmas cartoons. Visits to Disney World and riding the Haunted Mansion only made me more passionate.

I think the first monster movie I ever saw was Creature from the Black Lagoon when I was six. Thank God for Blockbuster, because over the next year afterwards I saw most of the Universal monster films. From then on I was hooked. Horror was always my thing.

Ever since I went through my first haunted attraction in middle school, I knew that I needed to get in somehow. It was like a match made in Heaven: a blend of arts, entertainment, and Hollywood-style special effects all rolled into one. When I was finally old enough to be hired, I worked at Sloss Fright Furnace, a haunted attraction located in a beautifully creepy Blast Furnace. This made my love for horror grow even more.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Some of my favorite artist here lately include Robert Crumb, Charles Addams, Dave MacDowell, Todd Schorr, Maurice Sendak, Ed Roth, Marc Davis, Ward Kimball, Erich Sokol, Mark Ryden, Mary Blair, Eric Pigors, Shawn Dickinson, John Kricfalusi, Carl Barks, Winsor McCay, Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Peet, Max Fleischer and etc., etc., etc.

I realize what an idiotic question that is. It’s really difficult as a creative person to limit any kind of interests or influences, but I’m genuinely interested in people’s answers.

Charles Addams has been a favorite of mine since early high school. I started reading Crumb in college. Kurtzman, Sendak, and McCay are incredible. I haven’t seen Schorr’s work in a long time, but he was someone who did an interesting blend of cartoons and horror.

I was also introduced to Charles Addams’s illustration work in high school! I was introduced to Crumb about my senior year of high school along with Kurtzman and McCay! I absolutely love their work, I actually just got done flipping through a book of Kurtzman’s work earlier today!

I think the most recent thing I’ve seen Schorr do was a sculpture of a Humpy Dumpty-type character…It was huge!

Alien sculpture! With Christmas lights!

That’s one thing I want to eventually explore, sculpting characters. I got to do so with an alien I made last semester! It was my first time really sitting down and sculpting a figure like that and building an armature and I’d love to do it again, or maybe eventually devote the time to eventually sculpting something life-size for the heck of it!

What kind of cartoons would you like to produce? Do you find yourself leaning more towards work that’s “cartoony” or work that is “horrorific”?

I’m really interested in doing something really out there and unique. I’d love to do something with monsters and creatures, it’d be fun and quirky that’s for sure! I almost feel like it’d fall along the lines of something Sid and Marty Krofft meets Ren and Stimpy with a dash of Mad Monster Party. Completely out there!

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.46.19 PM

Some of my favorite cartoons include those made by Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, the early Disney shorts (1930s-late ‘40s), Chuck Jones, and John Kricfalusi. I am really inspired by Ren and Stimpy, Disney, and Hannah-Barbera cartoons, and most recently Adventure Time and Regular Show! Some of my most favorite horror cartoons would definitely be the Halloween-themed Disney shorts, “Lonesome Ghost” and “Trick or Treat” especially. “The Skeleton Dance,” of course. Mad Monster Party and Nightmare Before Christmas are two of my favorite stop motion films to watch around Halloween. “Night on Bald Mountain” From Fantasiawas always a favorite, too.

“The Skeleton Dance” is archetypal! I used to watch Fantasia every Christmas! My introduction to monsters must have been the original King Kong, shortly followed by the Ray Harryhausen movies including the original Clash of the Titans. Sometime after that for me was the Universal monsters, then Stephen King. I still love horror when it is done well and sometimes even when it isn’t, especially if the monsters are cool. Do you know of anyone who studies classic stop motion animation or is it all done digitally these days?

I think the first time I ever saw the original King Kong was when I was in the third or fourth grade. I loved it, especially the dinosaur scenes. They always stuck with me, too. In eighth grade my history teacher played the original Clash of the Titans for us. I think I was the only one in the class who loved it. It’s kind of sad really. That was one of my first introductions to Harryhausen’s work. I began really checking out his stuff afterwards, and made connections to other films I’d seen prior with his work in it, one of which being Jason and the Argonauts.

Can you find the hidden artist?
Can you find the hidden artist?

I was so sad to hear of his passing earlier this year. About a week prior to it I was actually reading an article on what he was up to. I love that he still had so many of his original figures. I can only imagine how much they’d be worth today. I’m a huge fan of stop motion; I think it’s a medium that needs a stronger presence in today’s entertainment. It’s possible to replicate the look of stop motion through computers, but what fun is that? The authenticity is what really sells it for me. Luckily there are tons of people that feel the same way I think you and I both do and really push for using traditional techniques in films such as ParaNorman and Coraline, specifically. I think the computer when it comes to things like this should be a tool used mainly to aide the medium, rather than take it over.

Harryhausen was a real Titan and one of my favorite artists ever. Have you seen the Ub Iwerks cartoons? They are pretty amazing. He did some classic work for Disney, from what I remember.

Yes! I’m a big fan of Iwerks! His work is incredible! Iwerks was just as good as inventing as he was drawing. He invented the multi-plane camera, adapted Xerox for animation cels, and a multi-head optical printer, for the combination of live action film and animation. The technique was used in Song of the South and Mary Poppins. Iwerks created tons of special effects for Disney’s films and theme parks as well.

What is the Ringling College of Art and Design like? Is it associated with the circus? I can’t help but think of jugglers and clowns in the hallways. Judging by your work, it seems like a fun place to go to school, even without the jugglers.

It’s funny you mention that because when I first started telling people I’d been accepted to the school that’s the first thing they’d ask! I eventually got to the point where I’d tell them I was studying to be the Bearded Lady!

The school really is built in a circus town though! It’s somewhat normal to be driving through a neighborhood and see a tightrope in someone’s yard. The school back when it first opened was funded by John Ringling of circus fame. So that’s where the name comes from. While there aren’t jugglers and clowns here there are plenty of interesting people! It’s an art college all right. So far I’ve enjoyed my time here at Ringling! It’s a lot of work…but fun work! The teachers all come from backgrounds in the industry and are very helpful and supportive.

What is your favorite medium or does that matter? Do you work on a set routine?

Here lately I’ve been enjoying exploring the digital medium. It’s nice! I’m a sucker for ink, watercolors, and markers. I’ve been meaning to try gouache sooner or later.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.56.38 PM

I guess you could say for a set routine, I spend a lot of time prior to a piece really developing my characters and plot. I’ll do a good amount of sketches of the characters, I’ll play with expressions and stuff. I plan out stories for my pieces that are sort of goofy and fun. Other than that, maybe a bit morbid at times. As a student I try to really approach my techniques in as many ways as possible in order to see what I like and what works for me.

You seem to really like haunted attractions. What do you like about them? Is it as fun going to them as being in them? What’s the best one you’ve been to?

I developed from a young age a love for Disney Imagineering, and this idea that you can immerse people in a whole different universe through big theatrical sets, lighting, animatronics, and music. It’s like this big pot of so many different forms of art, and it truly is an art form. So going to haunted attractions was naturally up my alley for sure. It was like having your own Haunted Mansion in your town. By getting to work in one–it was like being behind the scenes of a movie set, it was exciting. I really enjoy playing spooky or mean characters because I’m a pretty nice person, perhaps a bit too nice. I got really into making my characters, too–I became a regular at thrift stores hunting clothes and accessories to wear, I’d paint them up all nasty. I learned how to apply prosthetics and makeup, too.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.52.10 PM

Haunted attractions have come a long way, too. I think there are some pretty elaborate Haunts out there, with movie-quality sets and props. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a ton of them. Walking through is an experience in itself, I love it. It’s just as fun to act and to be a part of that sort of thing. It’s tough to say which is the best one I’ve been to, I usually go for the very unique ones with tons of depth and detail in their props and characters. I love original characters. I’d have to say one of my top would be Netherworld in Atlanta. If you haven’t gone yet–go now! It’s worth every penny. Up there too would be Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Garden’s Howl-o-Screams, Disturbia in Huntsville, and Sloss Fright Furnace. There’s a ton I’d love to go to too that are a bit out of the way from us, but one of these days I’ll go to those for sure! Hopefully!

Has anyone tried to buy any of your pieces? Do you or have you taken requests?

I’ve done a few pieces for profit. With school going on I don’t have too much time for requests at the time, but I’d love to eventually sell prints and such of my work. I’d love to one day just set up a stand and crudely draw people for fun, make them look ugly on purpose and make people laugh. So I’d say eventually I’ll take requests! Sure!

Because it’s close to Halloween, I asked Randolph for a list of favorite monsters and horror films. Do you have your own favorite monsters or horror films? Add them in the comments section!

Top 10 Monsters:

I based my list of top monsters on the ones I feel truly appeal to me the most. It was tough!

1. Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff)
2. Creature from The Black Lagoon
3. Lon Chaney Sr’s Phantom of the Opera
4. Dracula (Bela Lugosi)
5. Metaluna Mutant
6. The Gremlins from Gremlins 1 and 2
7. The Mole People
8. King Ghidorah from the Godzilla Films
9. The Aliens from Mars Attacks! trading cards and film
10. Invasion of the Saucermen

Honorable Mention:
The Hatbox Ghost from The Haunted Mansion…only because he doesn’t really count as a movie character, but I still wanted to add him to the list!

Favorite Horror Movies
1. Frankenstein (1931)
2. The Shining (1980)
3. The Exorcist (1973)
4. Psycho (1960)
5. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
6. Nosferatu (1922)
7. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
8. Evil Dead (1981)
9. Re-Animator (1985)
10. Jaws (1975)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s