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Dave Carson Interview

Lovecraftian Artist

Dave Carson was born in Ireland in 1955 and spent his early years reading fantasy magazines and watching horror movies. In 1981 he founded Shoggoth Press producing respected portfolios of work such as Masters of Nightmare and Lovecraft's Pantheon. His work has appeared world-wide including Puffin Books, Dark Horizons, Fantasy Tales and of course, DAGON magazine. Dave also toiled under the auspices of DaveCarson.net (now defunct due to retirement) using a variety of media to produce works in his own distinctive style.
YSDC: How were you introduced to the works of H.P. Lovecraft?

DC: I picked up a small American magazine featuring The Lurking Fear when I was quite young, read it, liked it and decided to search out some more of this guy's stuff. Back then it wasn't very easy to get hold of Lovecraft material. I remember asking in bookshops and getting some strange looks. I eventually discovered The Call of Cthulhu and it just blew me away. That's still my favourite H.P.L story.

YSDC: What inspired you to begin illustrating Lovecraftian themes?

DC: The fact that none of the publications that I bought ever had any artwork for this stuff that just cried out to be illustrated. I'm sure there was illustrated Lovecraft stuff around it's just that I never saw any of it.

YSDC: How did you learn your trade?

DC: I'm self taught. Never went to art college. Had two years of art lessons in secondary school, which were totally crap and taught me nothing other than to avoid short, bearded art teachers.

YSDC: Have you played Chaosium's RPG? Do you still play?

DC: No, I have never played any of the games I've worked on.

YSDC: You were a regular contributor to Carl T. Ford's DAGON magazine. How was your relationship with the editor?

DC: The DAGON experience was probably the happiest in my career. He actually knew how to put a magazine together, and make it as professional as possible on a limited budget. The reproduction of artwork was always an important factor for Carl, he took care to see that the artists work was printed as accurately as possible. We got along excellently, drank much more than we should have, and remain great friends to this day.

YSDC: You've worked in a variety of media (paper, stone, wood, digital). Do you have a preference?

DC: I go through phases of preferring one to the other, but I do like to get working on a carving when I feel motivated, which I must admit, is rarely these days.

YSDC: Which other artists or authors do you admire, or felt have influenced your work?

DC: All kinds of influences. The over the top Mars Attacks! bubblegum cards of the 60s. Horror movies. Underground art and posters of the same decade. I would have loved to have been producing artwork during that period. Martin Sharp was (and still is) a big favourite of mine, especially his Sunshine Superman metallic poster. I had that on the walls of my various flats for years, now it's sadly lost. Anyone out there got one they don't want anymore? The Weird Tales artists such as Lee Brown Coye and Virgil Finlay must surely have been an influence. Perhaps it's a symptom of old age creeping on, but the majority of art today just leaves me cold.

YSDC: Which of your own pieces do you like best?

DC: I like a lot of the work on the Shadows over Innmsouth book, especially my Mother Hydra. I did the central figure and Martin McKenna & Jim Pitts filled in the surrounding areas. I wanted to make that one really gross looking, and I think I achieved what I intended for once. I actually thought that it would never get printed due to full frontal nudity of an eldritch creature.

YSDC: What advice would you give aspiring artists?

DC: Get paid as much as you can up front before you even pick up a pen. You WILL be ripped off. I can guarantee it. Sometimes by the most unlikely of publishers (I'll mention no names here). Don't make it easy for the sons of bitches.