Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Artist Spotlight

Artist Showcase: Dennis Carlsson

Dennis Carlsson is a tattoo artist born in 1986 in Sweden. He’s been drawing all his life, and is self-taught. After discovering Photoshop, a cheap tablet was bought, and now he mainly paints digitally. He never thought that art would be his livelihood, but today he runs his own tattoo studio, DC Tattoo, outside of Borås, Sweden.

First off, I’d like to ask you a question in the spirit of Nightmare: What scares you the most?

People, most definitely. What some people are capable of terrifies me more than any horror movie, or even the pictures I paint.

What made you want to become an artist? Can you remember a defining moment where you knew this was what you wanted to do?

I’ve always enjoyed drawing and I got a lot of compliments for my sketches as a kid. That made me very happy — and if something makes you happy, you want to do it all the time, right? I basically ended up drawing all the time! However, during my teens, the passion kind of cooled a bit until I found Photoshop — it renewed my inspiration and got me back on track, drawing and painting like never before. Making a living out of this was never the goal, and to be honest, nothing I ever could have dreamed of.

The image appearing as the cover of this month’s Nightmare, “Reaper,” is made all the more chilling by the monochromatic palette you’ve chosen. And your DeviantArt gallery contains many other monochrome pieces. What do you like about using color this way?

I always did my drawings and paintings in black and gray, but I noticed how just a little bit of colour could change the whole vibe of a painting made in grayscale. I started to experiment some with it, and really liked the effect and mood you could set.

“Reaper” is also a speed painting. When did you learn how to speed paint?

Speed painting came kind of natural to me (getting more and more impatient over the years). The technique fits me because I can try out many ideas fluently without being bound to a single idea, and having to scrap or redo from the start. I saw the technique on YouTube a couple of years ago, and I just had to try it. I’m sorry to say I can’t remember who the artist was that inspired me, but I guess thanks are in order here.

What techniques do you employ in speed painting versus painting at a more tempered pace?

I use speed painting almost all the time now. If it takes too long, I get bored and lose focus easily. It helps to keep me inspired and fluent with my ideas, I guess.

You are also a tattoo artist. What drew you to that medium?

My interest in the art of tattooing began in my teens. At the time, it felt cool and a bit scary — to be honest, I think it was a little bit of both that intrigued me — but marking someone for life? I never thought I would ever dare. In the end, it was friends and my boss at the time who encouraged me to take the step and try out tattooing. Today, I’m happy to say I do it full time.

Skulls and skull-like faces are a repeated subject in your work. What is it about the human skull that fascinates you?

I’m not sure what fascinates me the most about the human skull: maybe the mix between being scary and cool, in a way representing the dark side of my imagination.

Do you have any other special hobbies or skills you’d like to share with us?

Well, I record most of the paintings I do nowadays, and share them on my YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/disse86). I do this whenever I have some time left over, so I guess that counts as a hobby.

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Marina J. Lostetter

Marina Lostetter

Marina J. Lostetter’s short fiction has appeared in venues such as InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and Writers of the Future. Her most recent publications include a tie-in novelette for the Star Citizen game universe, which was serialized over the first four months of 2014. Originally from Oregon, Marina now lives in Arkansas with her husband, Alex. She tweets as @MarinaLostetter. Please visit her homepage at lostetter.net.