Artist Dick Starr (The Sick and Twisted Art of Dick Star) is known for his horror/pop culture mashups like Michael Myers as the Thinker and for his celebrity death polls, where he depicts a voted celebrity dying in a gruesome way. Starr hosts his own website which offers an abundance of work that you may find yourself wanting to spend your entire paycheck on and also frequents conventions as a vendor. His work will have you laughing, cringing, or maybe just saying hell yeah!
Dick Starr also dabbles in tattoo commissions, Art Cards, Editions, and Originals (ACEO), comic book covers, album art, movie posters, and even some things that aren’t horror. Some of the notable non-horror work he has done includes designing vegan jerky packaging and being commissioned to make portraits for a family’s children every year as they age. Wicked Horror had the chance to talk with Starr about his artwork, his inspirations, and much more.
Wicked Horror: I read on your website that you got in trouble for drawing grotesque pictures when you were you younger. About how old were you and what was the reception by family and friends? Was it mostly frowned upon or did you have mixed reactions?
Dick Starr: Well, the first time I got in trouble for my drawings was when I was either five or six years old. I loved superheroes and Superman was my favorite. I drew a picture of Superman flying up into the air, but a bird had crashed into him and detached his head. There was like blood on the bird’s beak and there was a trail of blood. The teacher had pulled my mom aside and my mom had said, “No, No, he is a good boy I promise. He is not disturbed.” But after this my Dad, who really got me into horror, pulled me aside and explained that horror was not everyone’s thing so it freaks some people out. However, they did support my art and even though it could be gruesome my mom would sometimes just look and look away telling me, “Well, at least the art is good.” But overall, my family is extremely supportive, they all know what I do and they love it, so nothing is really taboo. Some of my family is religious so I don’t cross that line with my art because I am always afraid it will come up at a family reunion.
WH: Did you always want to be a horror artist or just an artist in general?
Starr: Just an artist. Growing up, comic books and stuff like MAD magazine were my favorite, I just loved the art. I also drew a lot of pop culture stuff and always drew celebrities in the news like Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein. When I went to college, I went to the comic illustrator classes I realized very quickly it was not what I wanted to do. There is a lot more to illustrating comic books then people realize. Not only do you have to draw the same character repeatedly, but the background has to be realistic, has to match, and has to be to scale. It was too intricate for me. I had a professor that told me there are entire groups of people that just do magazine covers and pin-ups and that is what I became interested in.
Starr: That is a dead tie because both make my day. I love when people tell me they like my art and out of everyone that is at an awesome convention they complement my work. It makes me excited and inspires me to draw more because I feel like I am not wasting my time. On the other hand, I also love when people say my art is absolutely repulsive and they cover their children’s eyes when they pass me. I have gotten nervous and turned red before when a parent goes through my book and they have their kid right next to them.
WH: I saw that you have been commissioned to make tattoo designs for others, but do you have any of your art inked on your body?
Starr: Yes and no. I didn’t want my art to be copied onto me because I would just sit and pick out all the mistakes when it was done. I did design my entire sleeve, but the guy who did it was trained in Japanese themes in tattoo art. I do have Pele (volcano goddess) on my arm that is from my drawing, but the rest is his interpretation of my art in the Japanese style.
WH: Given the recent revelations about Bill Cosby what do you think of your Freddy Krueger/Cosby depiction now? I actually bought this from you finding it hilarious, but now I just think it’s ironic.
Dick Starr: When I first did it, I thought it was really funny and I did the mashup because they both wear sweaters. But now, that piece can be seen in an entirely different context because he is an actual monster. The mashup was supposed to be a mixture between something everyone loved and something everyone found scary, but now it is just scary. It’s an interesting dynamic because they are both predators and I wouldn’t have done it now. I was actually going to do Christmas cards with Cosby and different sweaters, but as soon as all this came out I was like nope, not going to do it. I actually did a celebrity death poll of Michael Jackson when he was still alive, but he died like six months later. I got death threats because people thought that I did the piece after he died, it was crazy.
WH: Of all the celebrity deaths you have depicted what would you envision for yourself?
Starr: (Laughs) That is a hard one. I actually made a joke with some of my artist friends that I would make a ‘Dick Starr is Dead’ and give it to a couple people I trust. So when I die they would release it and see if it matches. But I guess maybe something like the celebrities I did in the celebrity death polls that didn’t want to be killed would come back as zombies and rip me apart or something like that.
WH: Well thank you so much for your time and I am so glad you were able to talk with me. Is there anything else you would like to add or say?
Dick Starr: I would like to say that it was other artists that were successful at this that inspired me to continue. There are so many great artists in this field and honestly seeing that this isn’t a hopeless venture keeps me going.
More of Dick Starr’s work can be found on his website.