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Interview With Multi-Talented Artist Graham Humphreys
By James Whittington, Wednesday 10th June 2015

GH Small ImageGraham Humphreys is one of the most talented artists around. His instantly recognisable style has graced countless classic movie posters including Nightmare On Elm Street and The Evil Dead.

Drawing Blood, the first book to be dedicated to his work will be published by Proud Galleries and unleashed at Proud Camden alongside an exhibition of his work which will run from 29th October till 22nd November so we thought it was time that we chatted to this multi-talented artist.

HC: You started drawing at an early age, what sort of things did you try and realise?

GH: From the moment I saw a picture of a human skull I started drawing them, wasn’t quite so hot on skeletons, but skulls I could do. Then Doctor Who aired and I switched to Daleks. Only these two subjects interested me then. But now have a full size Dalek in my kitchen and two human skulls, one in my living room, the other in my bedroom!

HC: Were you a fan of the horror genre when you were growing up?

GH: Yes, before I was even aware that it was a genre. I was fascinated by images from the early Universal Monster films, Lugosi’s Dracula, Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster. I loved The Munsters and The Addams Family TV shows. When I was mature enough to read serious literature I began with Stoker’s Dracula, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, Hugo’s Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Then I discovered Poe and Lovecraft. In film, the Universal monster films were my first experience, 50s B-Movies, Corman’s Poe adaptations (starring Vincent Price) and then the Hammer films. I even made an early connection with popular music, Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s The Monster Mash and Screaming Lord Sutch’s Vampire Mary.

HC: When you were honing your craft were there any artists who influenced or inspired your work?

GH: Yes. Frank Frazetta, Drew Struzan, Roger Dean, Bruce Pennington - these are the ones I could first identify. But rather than individual artists I was drawn to individual items - the 1970s film posters for The Hindenburg, The Towering Inferno and Death Race 2000 all had a huge impact on me. Though none influenced me as much as James Bama’s savagely reworked Aurora ‘glow-in-the-dark’ monster kit boxes.

HC: I became aware of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead not because of the controversy surrounding it but your amazing video cover work, how did you get that gig?

GH: I was looking for work, dragging my folio around and the secretary at a friend’s work place (a design agency) suggested I try Palace Pictures, a brand new company. Though Stephen Woolley was unable to see me, I left a couple of colour photocopies of sample work and got a call about a week later asking me if I’d be interested in working on a horror film they wanted to release. They invited me to a screening in the empty auditorium of The Scala Cinema, I called back and said yes...

DB_frontLRHC: It’s a superb design, did it take long to complete?

GH: I knew instantly how I wanted to approach the design, I presented a simple sketch and they asked me to proceed - something of a leap of faith. The painting took about two days.

HC: Were you with them for a long time as you produced some of the finest and most memorable movie posters of that era?

GH: We continued our working relationship, right up until they fell into administration. I have a debt of gratitude that I owe Palace. The book is a testament to the career they gave me.

HC: Looking back, at your work during this golden age of VHS, would you have approached any of your posters in different ways?

GH: Ha ha! I think so. There is nothing quite like hindsight. In fact I have revisited one or two over recent years - I’d like to think my skills have developed and improved since then, though it’s an ongoing process.

HC: Your career hasn’t solely been poster creation as you have worked in the music industry, storyboarded movies, designed campaigns for films to mention only a few roles. Do you have a favourite?

GH: Not at all. There are some jobs that I feel better about than others, though the continuous process (mentioned above) leaves me always looking to improve. I’d like to think that the best is yet to come.

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

GH: If I told you I’d have to kill y...

Drawing Blood by Graham Humphreys will be released in October and for more information click here

All images used © Graham Humphreys


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