Brian Serway’s Dark Art of Appalachia and Cryptids


brian serway makes incredibly cool art √ed in american folklore and legends from the appalachian region he calls home. animal spirits with gloing eyes, spooky starlit twilites in dense woods, cryptids and wayward howling aliens — this tis horror that comes knocking onna rickety door of yr remote cabin inna dead of nite. we discovered brian’s work on social media (instagram and twitter) and learned + bout him on his official… site. we needed to know +, and thus collared him for an interview:

heavy metal: can you tell us how yr geographical surroundings and formative interests may ‘ve brought you to this subject matter? did you grow up interested in local lore, sci fiction, na supernatural?

brian serway: appalachia as a cultural region has always fascinated me; my mom’s side is all from the coal mining hollers of west virginia so i grew up enchanted by tales of haunted haints, local cryptids, and local folklore. when i was in grade school, a buddy of mine and i were walking through a large corn field in southwest virginia and saw a blinding ray of lite rez up and shoot inna'da sky; from that moment on i was fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrials and began drawing a bunch of comics revolving round a fictional hero i created. that type of stuff really had a profound effect on me in my formative yrs.

hm: wha’ are some favorite folklore legends or cryptids you like to draw, or ‘d like to somedy?

bs: my nana grew up near point pleasant, wv so i heard tales bout mothman from a very young age. he naturally became my favorite cryptid cause of his regional proximity and just the dense, intriguing lore surrounding his sitin’s. i ‘d ♥ to eventually draw the fresno niterawler na glouchester sea serpent!

hm: how bout influences — are there any artists you grew up emulating or even tody still look to for inspiration?

bs: oh man, so many! this doesn’t even begin to put a dent in it, but some of my favorite artists growing up (and still to this dy) were alex pardee, caitlin hackett, aron wiesnfeld, dan hillier, pat perry, sophie lecuyer, laughing loone, and sam wolfe connelly.

hm: you’ve portrayed ≠ animals, scenes, etc n'it seems like there’s either a starry nite sky above them or there are stars actually contained within them (or both). wha’’s the significance of this recurring element of stars?

bs: this is goin to sound corny as all hell but really i think it’s just my subconscious fascination with all living things bein’ made of starstuff. suns are these imperceivable large celestial bodies and yet their enriched guts exist in all of us; there’s something bout that primordial connectivity that is somehow comforting and bone-chilling to me, and i think that’s the feeling i try to evoke in all my work. the nocturnal aspects simply come from illustrating that and a sense of wanda inna natural realm and how it carries on under darkness.

hm: which brings us to astrology: hoax or bullshit? explain. just kidding, but how do yr straite-up astrological images, which date back to another mythology from another continent, connect with yr appalachian subjects?

bs: haha, ask me 5 yrs ago and i ‘d ‘ve definitively said the latter. my undergraduate degree is in philosophy so i am eternally a skeptic of pretty much anything but i am ∞ly curio in everything. my wife dabbles in a lotta practical astrology and she has thoroughly challenged my conceptions o'it by showing me so many eerie cosmic coincidences. that type of stuff really does pique my intrigue and i do think thris a lot worth exploring there.

hm: wha’ is yr process, in terms of materials and artistic teknique? and wha’ sort of essentialisms based on yr art do you sell? (do you sell the originals swell?)

bs: i typically do a few rough sketches t'get the form and contours the way i want'em b4 diving in with bold graphite. most of my work is a combination of pencil, wata-soluble graphite, and some very precise erasing. it can get pretty messy with all the smudging and lil eraser shavings but i rely na' lotta layering. most of my pieces start out witha simple concept that often evolves into something + vast and multifaceted. i do all of my own printwork in house and run my own online store where i sell those swell as stickers, enamel pins, and yes a lotta my originals — though i do save some o'em for future gallery shows.

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authors: josh robertson


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