Fred Grabosky (FTG Illustration) was kind enough to answer some questions about his art and process for Dark Art & Craft. Fred creates his dark organic illustrations with pencil and micron ink pen. Beyond art he produces music in God Root and SADGIQACEA.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m working on finishing a tour admat / shirt design, for one of my all time favorite bands, YOB. I’m also working on the poster/shirt design for the second Annual Shadow Woods Metal Fest, and soon I’ll be finishing up some things for my friends in Heavy Temple. Oh and I’m working on labels for Brimming Horn Meadery.
What dark, outsider or occult themes are employed in your work? Are these themes central to your thinking?
Death is a fascinating subject. Bones are beautiful to me, in a very earthly manner. I also truly enjoy the aesthetic of geometric patterns and shapes. I feel as though they hold an intangible power, like an answer to why we are here. Connection with nature is important to me physically and mentally. I like to incorporate elements of the dead and the living in most pieces and more often than not, I’m going to convey cosmic energy elements, whether it’s microcosmic or macrocosmic. I also enjoy pulling influence from ancient mythology/alchemy/ritualistic activities
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have for creation?
I have a certain flow as most artists do. I conceptualize, reference hunt, sketch, finalize, ink, scan, color and format. If I’m screen printing a piece, its the same except, I separate layers, burn it to a screen and then print it. This is usually over the course of weeks, as I like to stay busy. I’m never bored. I’ll be bored when I’m dead.
What tools for art creation do you employ?
A pencil, the will to make things, micron pens, ink, inspiration from walks/hikes in nature, ideas of or from altered consciousness, a few good albums and some isolation.
Do you admire any artists / photographers? (dark themed or not) what work inspires you?
I admire a great deal of artists, and I have had many sorts of mentors, some without them even knowing it. My favorite contemporary artists are: Richey Beckett, Glynn Smith, Orge Kalodimas, John Dyer Baizely, Arik Roper, Thomas Hooper and David D’Andrea. Also, Mike Lawrence, Halsey Swain, Caitlin Hackett, and Chelsea Owen are killing it constantly. Some mentors of mine are John Santos, Brian Mercer, Mike Wohlberg, Jeremy Hush and Paul Romano. They’ve been there to help me through weird situations and help me make good decisions. Each one of them has been a pro artist for longer than I’ve been in the game, just killing it on all fronts.
You are a musician (Sadgiqacea and God Root) as well as visual artist, how do you feel that music relates to your art?
The process of creating a piece, whether it be musically or visually, often has it’s parallels. I create music in the same headspace as I do visual artwork. I like to pull on deep emotion, bold and stark concepts, with psychedelic or surreal metaphors. It’s open enough to interpret as you will for your own situation, and I like to think it leaves the person encountering the piece with something powerful to reflect on.
Is heavy/dark music a motivator for art creation?
Absolutely, it pushes me to figure out how to articulate an idea in a badass way, without being corny, or hokey, and helps me to stay unique. I am naturally drawn to dark imagery/music. It feels more real and raw than any other emotional facet of creativity.
Who are some of your favorite music poster and graphic artists? Any artists from your local area that we should check out?
Malleus Rock Art Lab is always awesome, Angry Blue has done some killer stuff, The 13th Sign destroyed a neurosis tour poster last year, Ryan Begley, Aaron Horkey, and again I’m mentioning David D’Andrea and Richey Beckett…oh and Alexandro Pyromalis holy shit.
Some rad artists and friends of mine are Evan Void, Matt Nagle, Alyssa Maucere, Chelsea Owen, Jason Verdone, and Pirrko Gomsi - all great tattooers, Gene Smirnov, Dante Torrieri and Sean Bolton - all great photographers, Bob Stokes, Dylan Garrett Smith, Nicole Diponziano, Buddy Nestor, Alex Eckman Lawn, Ryan Haley, Jordan Stiff, Jeffrey Daniels- murdering "fine" artSorry to anyone I missed!
What role does the artist or designer have in society?
To show the rest of the world what part of their brain they could be embracing and how some might use it to express themselves.
Do you consider graphic design and illustration ‘the fine arts’ or more akin to business and does this line of reasoning have relevance anymore?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a business if you want it to. I do it more for me than anything at this point, but there are some who make a great living doing it. It’s also about how much you make it part of your life. If you do nothing but make art all the time, like every day… you can find a way to market yourself and really get somewhere with it. I personally have more than just art going on, but I do make it a huge part of my life. I’ve managed to make a decent business of it, but I’m not going to quit my stained glass job just yet. Whatever it is, I like it and I like to be a part of it.
What is the The Dark Arts Collective?
The Dark Arts Collective is a group of awesome Philly locals, and friends of mine in the metal scene that decided we needed an established sort of group to help promote and share our love for all things dark, heavy and extreme. It’s about musicians, painters, illustrators, screen printers, tattoo artists, photographers, videographers and performance artists alike showing what they create at different events. It’s mainly run by Nicole Diponziano and Bob Burns Stokes(Dirt Worshipper, Aghori Monk), as well as Lydia Giordano (Hivelords, Surgeon, Aghori Monk/booker at The Fire/Shred Shed), and Sean Bolton (Surgeon, Aghori Monk) lending there awesome venue/house (Shred Shed) for some of the events. So far, there have been several Dark Arts Exhibitions. Shannon of Anthropic Records also has a prominent hand in the collective as she DJ’s Tuesday nights at The Fire for her special artist showcases entitled“We Are All Doomed” among other collaborations. The next Dark Arts Exhibition has been announced for July 30th with the theme “Grindcore”. It will truly be a rager as each exhibition is accompanied by live music. This time the line up is intense. Here’s the link if you are interested! https://www.facebook.com/events/999969520120303/ I’m excited to yet again take part.
What are you doing when you’re not creating or working on art? What (other) interests do you have?
I’m a father figure to an 8 year old girl who loves making me play horsey when I’m not glued to my desk, I am a “glass artisan” at a Stained Glass studio for my day job, and I love exploring woods with my wife Dana. If I’m not doing that, I’m playing music with God Root, and soon SADGIQACEA again.
Where else can we find you?
My website is www.FTG38.com You can see most of my work and buy prints there, plus CvltnationBizarre.com - community >FTG
Find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ftgillus
Instagram @FTG.Illus and Twitter @FTGillustratio