Universal Monsters fans are going to be spoiled this year. Universal and Tongal are debuting the first pieces in a new art initiative focusing on all the classic monsters this year, starting with Wolfman, Frankenstein, and Dracula. The latter two are celebrating their 90th anniversaries this year, and expect them to get major focus because of it. Fans will be able to create their own monster at the Universal Monsters: Out of the Shadows site, and then the art will be judged on by a panel including Robert Kirkman, Andy, and Bárbara Muschietti, Crash McCreery, Tristan Eaton, and more. As part of this whole thing, three new pieces of art by Matt Taylor, Afua Richardson, and Yuko Shimizu can be found below. Go here for more info and to design your own monster!
Anything Universal Monsters Is Welcome Here
“Beginning February 11th through March 4th, the initiative aims to discover visionary artists (open to U.S. residents only) to create an original character inspired by Universal’s classic cast of Monsters, including Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Invisible Man. The winning artist will receive $10,000 and have their art recognized by an esteemed judging panel of filmmakers and industry creatives, including Robert Kirkman – of the award-winning comic turned TV series “The Walking Dead,” Andy and Bárbara Muschietti – director and producer (respectively) of the blockbuster horror films IT and IT CHAPTER TWO, Crash McCreery – legendary creature designer, Tristan Eaton – celebrated mural and fine artist who recently created a Monsters mural on the famed Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot, along with artists Afua Richardson, Matt Taylor, and Yuko Shimizu.
In celebration of this art initiative, Universal Monsters revealed a collaboration with three of the judges – Afua Richardson, Matt Taylor, and Yuko Shimizu – for reimagined artwork of Classic Monsters celebrating their iconic anniversaries in 2021: Dracula’s 90th (Richardson), Frankenstein’s 90th (Taylor) and The Wolfman’s 80th (Shimizu). This artwork, which serves as inspiration for the “Out of the Shadows” initiative, will be featured across consumer products launching later this year.”
“This idea came to me first. It was my first time watching the film, and there is this mystical Eastern European dark feel to it. So, I was envisioning old Northern European Renaissance print type of look involving dark woods, which much of the story takes place. Usually, coming up with ideas is the hardest, but this came pretty easy to me. The actual work took longer; to get that engraving feel, each line needed to be carefully drawn. It took quite a lot of time, but I am really happy with the result and hope the viewers feel the same.”
“I’ve always seen a comparison between the Count and the gaslighting psychopath. They forfeit empathy, love, and self-sacrifice, surrendering to animalistic impulses using those around them as a resource to prolong their survival at the cost of everyone else’s. Count Dracula also brings to mind those in my life who were hidden enemies. The way he can cunningly convince someone, even as their life force slips away, that where they want to be is in the confines of his beautiful prison—what a beautiful, terrifying, lonely beast. And yet, you’ll always watch to see if there is a moment of reflection. Is there any humanity left in their veins? [Besides what they’ve pilfered out of someone’s aorta] I wanted to try to expose the beast that lives in the immortal predator. Whenever I create a composition, I chart out the dimensions and midpoints thru grids and diagonals. Along the way, this blood-red V made its way into the work as I outlined where I wanted to put all my focus. I thought I’d keep it to add a modern effect to a classic monster.”
“Frankenstein is a really special movie, and really not even a horror movie at all, but a warning on the consequences of playing God. The Creature has the mind of a newborn but is cursed with a body assembled in the form of a brute made from spare parts. I wanted the artwork to focus primarily on The Creature and his birth – the violence of his creation, with nods to all that happens after. I’ve looked at a lot of Frankenstein posters by some of the best artists in the game, and the image of The Creature being birthed by the lightning felt new to me. The skull, the grasping stitched hand, and the medical illustrations were all meant to speak to the macabre patchwork nature of creation; the windmill is such an iconic image in all of film that was no way I could leave it out; the image of The Bride a nod to what awaits The Creature just down the line. And then in the background, the face of The Creature itself, emerging from the chaos of the painting. I wanted him to have a somber expression – not aggressive or angry – The Creature isn’t the villain or a monster in any real way, but hopelessly misunderstood and unaware of his own strength. This might be my favorite poster I’ve painted – a mix of classic elements and contemporary framing and type – it all came together better than I could have imagined.”
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About Jeremy Konrad
Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.