Today we talk to artist Graham Humphreys. If you’ve seen a FrightFest poster then you’ll be familiar with his work. So let’s look a little closer as we presented Graham with a few questions and then asked him to comment on a few of his designs.
So tell us how you came to be associated with FrightFest and how you got the job?
Through my association with The Creative Partnership. Christopher Fowler (author and former director of TCP) was involved in securing some of the films and thus a sponsor. As we are both big horror fans it seemed obvious that I would be involved. I had known Alan Jones for some time before the first FrightFest and had designed a logo for a previous festival Fantasm. I had also been to his earlier venture, Shock Around The Clock.
For each year’s main work, are you given any instructions by the management, or are you left to your own devices?
Usually we’ll meet up to discuss what films are booked and look for a thread. Generally I am given free reign.
Do they tell you, or do you seek information about any themes, or even films playing to help inspire the image?
As above, though the tenth anniversary spawned the cake concept and this year’s idea came about because of the ’12th’ connection, i.e. midnight hour.
You have created a mascot that appears on the artwork. What can you tell us about him?
The initial inspiration came about through Paul McEvoy’s suggestion of evoking an EC comics cover. The character was a monstrous projectionist, inspired by a childhood memory of a particularly disturbing character that had given me nightmares after reading an EC comic!
Do you think he’ll become as recognisable as say, Iron Maiden’s Eddie?
That is a heroic thought! I’m not sure that he’s been developed sufficiently (we’ve never seen his legs!) and the festival is UK based, so there’s little exposure – unlike Iron Maiden’s Eddie.
Do you attend the festival?
When I can.
If so – any highlight memories from you so far?
Each year brings a new experience and it’s the attendees that create the highlights. It’s always good to catch up with friends and meet new people. There’s something very comforting about a weekend spent in the company of like-minded horror hounds.
2002 & 2003
GH: FF 02 and FF 03 are fairly generic horror themes and the very first FF fold out was a homage to the Scala Cinema programmes. The test crash dummy was inspired by my reading about corpses being used in crash simulations.
GH: FF 04 is self explanatory as is FF 07 – both a play on words.
GH: FF 05 evokes the theatrical experience with the masks of comedy and tragedy.
GH:FF 06 was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, but with a coincidental nod to Pan’s Labyrinth which screened that year.
GH: The tenth anniversary deserved a cake! But I had intended to use the hands of glory instead of candles to creep it up a bit. Rather than give our man his old projectionist job, I thought it would be good to give him some leisure time. In the backgound are his playthings, whilst on the stove, dinner is stewing. The cake is decorated with deadly nightshade flowers and cigarette butts. The rat is gnawing at the cake, suggesting that it is not simple sponge!
GH: Mr Fright is trying his hand at film making. Though his lead actor has hit the cutting room floor – literally! I thought a glamorous assistant would enhance the image, though she has Lovecraftian issues with her tentacles. However, she has embraced digital technology with her camcorder.
I’ve added some gothic flourishes by introducing a tombstone (based on one I photographed in the cliff top graveyard in Whitby, next to the Abbey) and a well appointed creepy house.
GW: The 12th year is marked by the midnight hour on Big Ben. Mr Fright is filming the moment as a demonic creature springs from the tower – all hell has broken loose as the FrightFest hits London once more. The camera is valve operated and the UV bulbs are steaming in the cold air, as is his exposed brain. I thought I should add a few dribbles of blood from his cranial cup.