Interview with Darryl Love

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Darryl Love is a self taught artist. Supported and encouraged by his family from a young age, his creative education includes being mentored by a tattoo artist, studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and classes at Kendall College of Art and Design. He cites many influences, including horror movies, comics, heavy metal music, popular art, cartoons, insane asylums, Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Joel Peter Witkin, Dante’s Inferno, and video games. Several of his ArtPrize entries have appeared on the covers of local newspapers and on TV; most notably Rorschach in 2013. He worked as a set designer, and acted in the TV commercials for Nights of Fear Haunted Houses where he “scared the owners with his twisted creations in the asylum”. He designed Dark Knight Rises promotional shirts with Design by Humans and Warner Brothers; a poster for Monster Piece Theater (unreleased); a poster and promotional t-shirts for the movie AmeriKan Violence; and promotional art for L.A.’s Shriekfest. He was contacted to work for Red Rock Entertainment in 2014. He has designed images for ECW/WWE legends Sabu and Genie, and has photography on display in Como, Italy. He is currently working on promotional designs for Woodstock 50, and dreams of working with occasional correspondent Rob Zombie.

Love’s work can be seen on his website, on  Facebook,  at TalentHouse, and at TeePublic.

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3288 Review: How did you get started as an artist? Was there a specific influence, either a person or an event?

Darryl Love: My dad once drew me a picture of The Incredible Hulk. It was mind blowing as a kid. Ever since then I wanted to be an artist!

When Mortal Kombat 3 came out, I was 7 or 9 years old. I bought a strategy guide which I still have, and I redrew a lot of the characters from that book. Teachers didn’t like it when I drew the ‘Fatalities’.

My parents divorced, and I moved from California to Michigan where I didn’t know anyone. I kept to myself and drew all the time. Doodled in class. I was a weird nutcase. I even exaggerated the twitches and jitters so people would leave me alone. Then I had a friend in middle school who saw me drawing the Undertaker. We became best friends and he played White Zombie’s La Sexorcisto: Devil Music vol. 1 and Astro Creep: 2000; Korn’s Life is Peachy; Seasons in the Abyss and Reign in Blood by Slayer; and Megadeth and Metallica. I had never heard anything like it before I could feel it—crazy and intense. I loved it! At the time, Slayer was way too intense for me. Now that I’m older I can dig it, and listen to them almost religiously—in particular “The Final Six”.

In high school I kind of got lost in the stupid high school life, and lost myself. My life during this time was hell. My aunt really supported my art. She was killed. God rest her soul. I had to seek therapy. Months later, my therapist had died. Three weeks later my girlfriend cheated on me. I was suicidal, but I used the pain to paint more and, remember my therapist’s advice. It is very healing. I keep hoping, and I’ve learned to live with “it”.

Rob Zombie is a very inspiring guy. We’ve met a few times, and his live shows are the best! I’m more inspired every time I leave a show. I am good at visualizing noise and music so I can see songs in my head.

Meeting WWE’s Torrie Wilson at my first Comic Con was like heaven! She is so beautiful! I was nervous to talk to girls before I met her. She was very nice and super cool. Since then it’s been easier to talk to girls. They inspire me too! Yeah, there’s a lot of things that inspire me.



3288 Review: What’s the story behind your painting “Crazy-Head”? It has numerous pop-culture references, and it seems equally nightmarish and humorous. What went into the creation of it?

Darryl Love: “Crazy-Head” was a mix up of a lot of ideas and experiences mentioned above. (Who helps you when the help dies?) My therapist dying was one of them. I learned how to hypnotize people—hence the watch swinging back and forth and the spiral head. I wanted make myself happy with this painting with what I considered to be the healing power of laughter. The teeth chattering were always pretty funny to me, especially if there was a lot of them going off at once. The bubbly eyed little helper dangling from its brains makes me laugh (just to be able to say that!). The long arm with the butterfly at the fingertip was a representation of how it took me a long time to become a gentle, kind person after all the horrifying troubles this world put me through. At this point, trouble is an abstract word, kind of like a happy cloud. There are also some hidden references in that painting—like a secret code for people to decipher. No joke. It’ll blow your mind once you put it all together.

3288 Review: You are quite prolific as an artist. How much time do you spend creating, and how do you fit it into the rest of your life?

Darryl Love: Each piece of art takes a different amount of time to create. My Rorschach painting took half a year. It’s perfectly symmetrical. There’s a brutally graphic angel I’ve been working on since high school. It’s very personal and not many have seen it. It also depends on how much money I’m being paid. I won’t spend 2 weeks on something for $50.00.

Time management is hard with relationships, work, maintaining my health, and technology eating up a lot of time. It gets easy once I get into the groove of getting daily life chores out of the way fast. I have to squeeze out every second I can to paint. I eliminated toxic people from my life (like they were real deadly radioactive mutant beings) so I don’t have much of a social life. At the moment, I’m rebuilding myself. I usually do the scheduling when all of my projects are caught up—if I have a free moment to date, catch up with friends and family, if I think I need a break, or if it is important.

Long ago, I came to this realization- almost like a lifetime achievement- that I want to be remembered when I die, and that fear of being forgotten is what drives me to paint. Fear of death keeps it real. I’d like to live up to those “Love will live forever” quotes until the end of the world. You have to detach from reality a little, live inside your head, and stay creative. It’s an endless cycle of feeding the beast. Here’s my advice: Stay focused, driven, open minded, and determined. Focus your energy on what is important to you and what makes you happy and you’ll be happy!

Also, bring a sketchbook everywhere you go.

3288 Review: How did you connect with Rob Zombie? And is it more correspondence or collaboration?

Darryl Love: This question makes things exciting- to be able to even answer this is pretty surreal. I first saw Rob Zombie in concert back when Myspace was a thing. I would bug the shit out of him on there until the day of the concert back in 2006 or 2007. I went right up to the side of the stage and before his set, he came out from behind a Wolfman tapestry, darted his head around the crowd and locked eyes with me for a solid minute. I was noticed!

The first time I met him in the flesh was at the Deltaplex. I always get VIP passes to hang out. I always believed if you want to get your name out there, have a “by any means necessary” attitude. I gave him some prints of art and business cards. When we hung out last time in 2013, he remembered me. Called me by name and said he still had my card from last time. To be honest, it was hard to talk because my childhood idol was right in front of me. I was a little star struck.

As far as collaborating, I think it’d be cool to collaborate or just paint whatever he wants. I grew up molding my style off of his drawings from early White Zombie up until now. I would hunt them down on the internet just to redraw them 50 times.  I think it’d be a fantastic fit working together—like Keanu Reeves putting his tattooed arms together in Constantine. I do correspond with some people who have worked with him. Kristina Klebe, who was Lynda in his movie Halloween. Total babe and very nice (hi Kristina!!) I also talked a lot with Alex Horley. Paint talk. He is an incredible artist!

3288 Review: What has your experience been as an artist in Grand Rapids? Is the community generally supportive? Are there many opportunities for artist here in West Michigan?

Darryl Love: For my experience, it took a little to get off the ground. It escalated from business cards to Artprize. Artprize to movie posters, to Woodstock flyers, and band shirt designs.  It was very rewarding and left me in awe every time I was granted access to show my work to the public or even got a good art job freelancing. The process of creating personal work—whatever emotions go into that art and are shared with whoever sees and can connect with it—that is when I feel most accomplished.

Surprisingly, a lot of people are very supportive!  I’ve learned that most non-creative people are in awe of artists and really do appreciate us for our talents. Not everyone is so nice. I’ve been ripped off, never paid, and stolen from. It sucked but they were learning experiences. Expect to fail and keep going. Effortless Entrepreneur has a lot of good advice.

I haven’t explored much of West Michigan, but there are opportunities in Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is really growing though. I can’t speak for all of West Michigan.  Artprize is the biggest opportunity for any artist in Grand Rapids. You don’t have to win to reap benefits. TV interviews are good things to put on your resume. I wish I could do it this year. It’s a great way to start building up your resume. Every experience is important.

My first big gig was because of Facebook. I posted on a Navy SEAL page about doing a shirt for them, and a former SEAL contacted me right away for graphic designs. I was so blown away- that moment, the internet became the most important tool for networking for me. With that same principle, I’m now doing a flyer for Woodstock and a shirt design for Slayer! I’m more than a one trick pony though.

You have to really look for the opportunities. There are websites and art contests too. Just look, and remember TAKE THAT OPPORTUNITY THE MOMENT YOU SEE IT!!!  You really have to treat it like a business. Your attitude is important. Treat your art like it is your livelihood. Market yourself like crazy but don’t annoy the shit out of people. The competition may be fierce, but you need to start a fire in your soul if you really want it. I followed the advice of people who made it, and this was most important: Don’t ever give up.

3288 Review: When you get a commission to create artwork for a client like Slayer, how does that work? Do you send them artwork and then they say “yes” or “no”? Or do they say “create something that looks like X”, and then go through multiple iterations? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Darryl Love:   I’ve actually been the person to engage most of the big jobs. I think it was all about timing and being able to see the golden opportunity instantly.  For Slayer it was just totally random and my gut instinct told me something special was about to happen. I went with the flow. What happened was they were taking questions from their fans on Tom Araya’s official fan page, and it happened to be on my birthday! I asked my question and eventually that led to me seeing the opportunity. I was up front—I told them a little bit about the projects I’m working on, and asked if I could design a t-shirt for one of my favorite bands! I was told to contact management, I instantly got on that. (I have never felt more businesslike than that day—at the airport, on the phone with Slayer’s management, then immediately boarding my flight to California). I had to send my resume to them. They said to contact someone from the band. I talked to the singer’s wife again and went from there. I sent them almost all of the paintings of demons, along with a sketch of my idea, and she gave me a thumbs up. I think that really helps so they can see that I’d fit in with that they’re all about.  Now I’m just working on the art. If they’d have an idea for me to create, hell yeah, I’d totally do it until they were happy with it.

3288 Review: What’s next for you as an artist? Do you have any work in progress which will be released in the near future?

Darryl Love:  I never really know what’s next. I’m looking at a city on the horizon. I see a lot of opportunity way out in the middle of nowhere. It would be really cool to get famous, but it has to be earned I think. A lot of hard work, networking and marketing.

I submitted work to an exhibit in Detroit called “The Damned Show.” if I get accepted, I have many more demons to offer for future shows.

I’ve been working on a futuristic/post apocalyptic project called “The Asylum Freax” for a while now. Think Mad Max meets Tron, Back to the Future and Blade Runner. It’s like an asylum at the end of the world. I’ll be excited to finish it.

Each time I enter Artprize, I’m always inspired by what I did the year before. I have a project that I was going to enter in Artprize 2016, but I didn’t because I already know it’s too graphic. If you read the caption to [Artprize 2015 entry] HDMI, it is even more violent than that. So I didn’t bother entering. I mean, could they handle a painting inspired by Bosch’s work? I am also in talks to be a part of the LinkedIn sessions and help artists get more exposure. I’m helping out with illustrations for a book of poems. Someday I’d love to be a part of Comic Con!

I want to venture out to new things. It is exciting to take risks. When I visited California, I met the curator of an art show during and for the Super Bowl. We networked. I hope something cool happens with that. I’d like to play my guitar a little more too. And really just get involved more, and  spot those golden opportunities. I might not be in Grand Rapids for too much longer. I have plans to move to California soon. I’m putting my art everywhere. Field to field. If it doesn’t work out I could always come back.

I’d love to meet my soulmate and get married to her. But for now, I’m going to keep doing my thing. Crank up Brock Lesnar’s entrance music. Keep it original, real, busy, and bizarre!