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Man, in the years and years I’ve been work­ing with David Cum­mings and his team for the NoSleep pod­cast, they sure nev­er ceased to amaze me with the amount of excit­ing and inter­est­ing projects they throw my way.

I can say with­out hyper­bole that work­ing for them has been one of the most impor­tant steps in my art career.

This week, I was asked to illus­trate The Grad­u­a­tion” by D. Williams. Let me show you the art­work before I tell you why this par­tic­u­lar illus­tra­tion stands out.

The Graduation

Just a very nor­mal camp­ing trip

For my excite­ment to make sense, you must first know that the NoSleep Pod­cast some­times fea­tures ad-reads. Rather than read a bor­ing, boil­er­plate text, though, they have fun with it. All adver­tise­ments are a fun­ny mini-sto­ry, firm­ly anchored in the hor­ror genre, but usu­al­ly hilar­i­ous. Instead of being a jar­ring inter­rup­tion in your nor­mal enjoy­ment of your enter­tain­ment, they pro­vide some­thing many fans look for­ward to.

This week’s spon­sor is none oth­er than Amer­i­can Hor­ror Sto­ry! The hor­ror anthol­o­gy is cur­rent­ly pro­duc­ing a new series called Amer­i­can Hor­ror Sto­ry 1984 (which is, coin­ci­den­tal­ly, my birth year) and will the­mat­i­cal­ly give a hat-tip to that era’s slash­er flicks and B hor­ror movies.

If you look over the page for NoSleep’s S13E12, you will find that the sto­ries also pay homage to that same theme. 

One theme, five illustrators

To cel­e­brate the spe­cial­ness of this episode, NoSleep com­mis­sioned five illus­tra­tors from the team to illus­trate a sto­ry that was fea­tured. All of these illus­tra­tions were insert­ed into a poster design, mak­ing them look like VHS tapes (aah, the memories).

Here’s the full spread:


From top left to bot­tom right: 

How I did the illustration

I start­ed my work, as usu­al, by doing research. This led me down a delight­ful path of cheesy and some­times out­right kitschy 80s slash­er hor­ror posters.

One ele­ment that fea­tured in many of the designs was the killer or crea­ture (the Big Creepy”, as it’s some­times called in our house­hold) loom­ing men­ac­ing­ly over our pro­tag­o­nists. That, togeth­er with the fact that one of the vic­tims in the sto­ry describes the killer as hav­ing no face, gave me my first idea.

Since the cab­in by the lake is the only rea­son those poor, mis­guid­ed teenagers are in harm’s way, I also need­ed to fea­ture it. I chose to depict the scene as harm­less and serene, in stark con­trast to the bloody knife loom­ing over them.

When the illus­tra­tion was almost done, I noticed it being a bit mono­chrome. Thus, the idea of the neon out­line was born. It serves three purposes:

  1. direct the atten­tion of the view­er upwards to the killer
  2. break up the monot­o­ny of the blue hues with some bold colors
  3. give a delight­ful throw­back to 80s aesthetics

All in all, The Grad­u­a­tion was a fun explo­ration into a dif­fer­ent style, and I am very grate­ful to NoSleep for the oppor­tu­ni­ty in tak­ing part in some­thing so cool.

Until next time, my lovelies, stay safe — and maybe don’t make any vaca­tion plans involv­ing remote, qui­et lakes.


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The Art of Jörn · Schenkspfad 4 · Cologne 51105 · Germany