Everyone is afraid of something. When we were children, it was easy to rattle a list of scary, horrible things. Our imaginations were full of doubt, fear of what’s lurking in the dark and of over-detailed nightmares. I was terrified of the dark when I heard strange noises, felt scrutinizing eyes on me or saw unexplainable shadows. My first line of defense was to hug my stuffed bear as hard as I could and “hide” under my covers. If I couldn’t see the monster, then it couldn’t hurt me. My mom was forced to spritz “Monster Spray” (a mixture of water and perfume in a spray bottle) under our (my younger sister and I shared a room) bed and in the closet to protect us from monsters so we could sleep.
Fear and Sleep
Traumatizing events and anxiety are fuels to experiencing nightmares and night terrors. According to WebMD, nightmares are vivid situations that seem real until the person wakes up, while night terrors are more confusing because the person wakes up extremely scared but don’t know why. Duration, subject and the frequency of nightmares vary from person to person, but there are similarities. The most common nightmares involve inability to escape danger and falling from steep heights.
The nightmares I remember have strong helplessness and time-constraining themes. I also remember some outrageous nightmares that make no sense: Forks marching under an orange sky while holding samurai swords with loud saxophones playing in the background. I mean, it gets pretty ridiculous. Other common themes in nightmares include violence, pain and suffocation.
A horror artist is dedicated to recreating unpleasant feelings through photography, painting, sculpture, etc. Mia Makila is a painter who mixes humor and death into her work. Joshua Hoffine finds inspiration in psychology and fear for his photos. Zhang Peng reveals cultural flaws through mixed media. Below are some quotes from these artists with a sample of their work. Each tells a different story for a different cause with different perspectives, and they all fall under the horror artist umbrella. Take a look!
“I guess everyone’s calling me a “horror artist” because I deal with difficult emotions and themes such as fear, angst, madness, rage and sorrow in my art. But I also use a lot of humour. Making my demons having fun on the canvas. You could describe my art as horror pop surrealism or dark lowbrow. My work includes mixed media, paintings and digital collages.”
“I am interested in the psychology of fear. We are born with certain inherent and instinctual fears, such as fear of the dark, fear of lurking danger and fear of being eaten. As we grow older, these fears lose their intensity and are slowly shuffled away into our Unconscious. Horror, as an art form, draws its strength from the Unconscious. Horror photography is able to present these abstract and forgotten fears in literal terms.”
“In a broad sense, all of my works demonstrate a kind of oppression. If conditions allow, parents plan a future that they think will be good for their children. If they are not wealthy enough, they hope their children will have a skill and then they force them to develop it. As children grow up, their character is distorted by the inappropriate pressure of their parents and their school. The appearances of my figures drift between real people and dolls. While the image is aesthetic, I also want to reinforce the strong sense of distortion.”