That I have any friends at all is something that constantly surprises me, and sometimes when I think I’ve missed an opportunity at friendship, that deeply saddens me.

I met G.A. Alexander briefly on a side-trip to Seattle, a branching-off from a trip to Portland, that I took a few years ago, in order to spend some time with friends. G.A. Alexander was the partner of one of these friends (a human whom you are all very familiar with, poet and writer Sonya Vatomsky, whom I have interviewed previously!) and I maybe said two words to him at the time. I met him again on a trip back to Seattle and was deeply privileged see him and Sonya get married…and again maybe only spoke a handful of words to him. I am very shy and I did my best!

As I know we share similar enthusiams–a love for the horror genre, and what I broadly think of as “goth musics”– I have kinda low-key, stalkery been following his projects with great interest over the last four years or so. As a musician and writer, G.A. Alexander has played in the bands Golden Gardens, The Vera Violets and Push Button Press, and is the writer of Kickstarter comics success Keepsakes, along with short stories published by Eerie River Publishing and Nocturnal Sirens Publishing. His new project, OBSO/LETE, is over on Kickstarter right now, and I am very much looking forward to these dystopian tales of terror.

In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to ask him a few questions about this forthcoming effort, and his inspirations/enduring influences, as well as wrangling some recommendations from him to share with all of you!

See below for our chat on all things horror from the grimy and lo-fi, the the elevated and possibly “too beautiful” and be sure to check out OBSO/LETE on Kickstarter!

Unquiet Things: I’ve written previously about how much I thoroughly enjoyed your first comic, Keepsakes. It had that sort of retro-anthology vibe, with stylized imagery recounting horrific yarns, that took me back to the feeling of reading copies of Eerie and Creepy magazine when I was way too young to understand them. And maybe, too, my more recent memory of watching Tales From The Crypt and wishing I had seen it when I was younger! Your new project, OBSO/LETE, which I understand to be cyberpunk body horror set in a collapsing future, sees a very different direction and vision! Can you tell us what OBSO/LETE is about? What should readers know prior to diving in?

G.A. Alexander: Thanks for noticing that about Keepsakes! A lot of people brought up  the Tales from the Crypt similarities, but I was also a fan of things like Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery and other horror books that were either active or were enjoying a period of extensive reprinting when I was a kid.

OBSO/LETE is definitely a different beast altogether from Keepsakes. The book is set in an alternate future where technology (especially anything using networking) was severely restricted for the average person by the American government from the 1990s-onward. In the meantime, however, development for things such as medical research and the military have experienced no hindrance at all. Due to the stunted development of technology and the way society developed, the power grids in the large MegaCities that have sprung up have become overburdened to the point of near-collapse, and so different districts have started experiencing rolling blackouts which have come to be known by the population as “Cold Spots”. 

The first issue of the book tells the story of Sandra and Juliette, two bartenders working in District 4, an extremely blue-collar part of a large, un-named MegaCity. As their neighborhood is hit by Cold Spot after Cold Spot, they begin to notice that things may not quite be what they seem: the constant power fluctuations in the city seem to have ignited something buried deep below the city. Things that appear to be neither completely human, nor machine are now lurking in the shadows of the city, waiting for their opportunity to strike.

Could you share where the idea for OBSO/LETE came from, and what inspired you to tell this type of story? And what ‘type’ of story would you say this is?

OBSO/LETE’s main influences came from a few different sources: I noticed a lot of modern cyberpunk media had adopted a sort of “neon palm tree” sort of aesthetic, which eventually became a bit too ubiquitous to be fun for me, and so I really wanted to make something that could be considered “Cyberpunk” under its original idea of “high tech, low life”, but could be dirtier, nastier and grimier. Aside from that, a lot of the inspiration came from the movies Tetsuo The Iron Man and Hardware, the comic books Akira and BLAME! and the box art and aesthetic of 90’s FMV computer games like Under a Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria 2 along with 90’s cable television shows like The Hunger, Max Headroom and Highlander.

The story’s genesis came from mis-remembering a scene from Hellraiser III. After re-watching it and quickly realizing my memory had distorted it into something else entirely, that then turned into the inciting incident in OBSO/LETE (and which you can read on the Kickstarter campaign). From there, pieces started falling into place. The rolling blackout concept was something I had been thinking about for a few years after reading about how certain countries had actually implemented it. 

The premise of technology being hampered for regular people but completely unhindered by any restriction for the military came from living through Y2K while also working in an office park directly next door to a military contractor. 

I’ve got a fair amount of techo-skepticism in me and some very distinct worries about the growing alienation we’re experiencing due to social media and other technological things that past few decades have inserted into our lives, but I’m also very well-aware of how these things have absolutely improved certain peoples’ lives and how much of a net-benefit they can be. I wanted to tell a story that explored what the world would (possibly?) be like without some of these things. I didn’t want to come into that story with a pre-conceived black-or-white “Technology Bad/Technology Good” perspective at all, but I really wanted to think about and depict how I believe human interaction and the world may develop without mass-media communication as we currently know it.

Also, I wanted to take that world and put monsters in it.

You’ve got some stories on the popular horror r/nosleep subreddit and you’re a musician/songwriter(?) as well. As a writer of all sorts of interesting things, I’m curious as to who you consider your biggest writing influences? 

I’ve come to writing very late in life, having done most of my creative work as a musician and songwriter. I’m very influenced by who I grew up reading, including people like Billy Martin (who wrote under the name Poppy Z. Brite), Clive Barker, Stephen King, Brad Meltzer, William Gibson, Caitlin Kiernan, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and many others.

The writers who really “clicked” for me as an adult, and who kinda pushed me into a mode where I not only felt “I can do this” but also “I need to do this because they’re so good and I have to catch up!” are Thomas Ligotti, Nicole Cushing, Kathe Koja and Matthew M. Bartlett. I would recommend anyone with a taste for left-of-center horror with a VERY distinct sense of setting (which is a thing I find really appeals to me) check out any and all of those authors.

And in terms of horror cinema, if you had to narrow a list down to two or three films that shaped your view/appreciation of the genre, or that you recall as particularly profound, what would they be? (and why, if you’re feeling expansive!) Is there anything going on with horror right now that you find inspiring?

A lot of the horror movies over the last two or three years that have been connecting with me have been somewhat low-budget affairs. On the micro-budget end, Nigel Bach’s Bad Ben series has been an absolute delight to watch, as you get to see a filmmaker find his voice and his “style” as he goes. I really enjoyed Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, as well, which utilized a ton of practical makeup effects, which I REALLY enjoy.

Historically speaking, my favorite horror movies would have to be Hellraiser, Halloween and The Thing. These are obviously fairly pedestrian takes, but I struggle to think of stronger and scarier works. I’m a big fan of Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On The Grudge, as well, and I think it’s an unfairly overlooked classic.

I feel a lot of modern horror can be sabotaged by how modern technology had granted us access to beautiful cinematography. The modern “elevated horror” subgenre has put out SO many great movies, but most of them have failed to connect with me and on reflection, I think it’s because so many of them are TOO beautiful to look at. Having been raised in the VHS era, I think there’s something with film grain and tracking static that my brain associates with “scary”.

You and your wife and cat just made an international move during a pandemic! Well done! I know that was challenging to say the least, and that whole process almost seems like a horror story in and of itself. I’m always interested in how one’s geography shapes one’s fears and inspirations in that vein. Can you speak to how aspects of place and environment, and perhaps even culture, find their way into your writing?  

That’s an interesting question, and one that I think I’m just starting to grapple with. Having grown up and spent most of my life in the USA, how does or should my writing change now that I’m, for all intents and purposes, a British Writer? 

A lot of my previous stories are set in and around North East Pennsylvania, which I only spent a couple of years living, in my 20s, but left a very specific impression on me. How long can I go on writing about America, while not living there, and have my stories feel grounded in reality? How long should I immerse myself in the UK’s culture and places and idiosyncrasies before I can safely write a British Horror story? It’s odd because on one hand, I have these very specific experiences and memories and on the other hand, I worry about how long those will feel “Valid”.

For example, in Keepsakes, there’s a short story “An Open Letter to Blue American Petroleum”. That’s directly inspired by actual experiences I had moving cross-country in the United States, filling up at little gas stations in little towns off the highway. I don’t think the same sort of experiences happen here.

While that’s the case, every place has its own strange culture and unique features. The city I live in now has an extensive canal system and you have the ability to travel from neighborhood to neighborhood through tunnels underneath bridges and by the side of long stretches of water. I can see this, and many other features of where I now live sneaking into my work soon.

Keepsakes felt very North Eastern USA to me. Keepsakes 2 (which will be a standalone story, tangentially connected to the original collection) will be Pacific Northwestern. OBSO/LETE’s setting feels Chicago to me, while its characters feel very St. Petersburg, Florida. I always seem to want to write about places after I leave them more than when I’m there.

I’m extremely fascinated by the personal routines of creators. Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your work? What gets you in the mood to write? Any rituals or practices? 

I wish I had a better or more structured routine. A lot of my process feels like “stealing time” from other things. I recently bought a couple of notebooks and a fountain pen to try and make my writing process feel a little less tethered to a keyboard, but I’ve found that the notebook is its own tether.

Some of my favorite work has been typed into my phone at 11:30pm at night while laying in bed, dealing with insomnia. 

I only just realized that you stream on Twitch! Horror games, is that right? I am not very good at these things, but I recently just tried my hand at World of Horror, an H.P. Lovecraft/Junji Ito-inspired RPG horror game set in a quiet Japanese town filled with eldritch beings, wild-eyed cultists, and impossibly twisted human forms. I died a lot! Have you played anything lately that you really enjoyed and that you might recommend?

I tried out World of Horror on-stream a few months back! 

I died a lot too. I think my issue is that I have exactly zero history with RPGs. My game of choice was always point-and-click adventure games.

The Twitch stream, Welcome to Frankenstein House, came as a result of wanting to fill time when the pandemic hit. Initially the idea was to do comic book reviews but that quickly evolved into abandoning the review format about 10 minutes into each stream and them proceeding to goof around about whatever we wanted (usually complaints about the Stuart Townsend depiction of Lestat in the Queen of the Damned movie, or how Alfred from Batman is in fact an interdimensional sex god) for 2-3 hours every week. 

After that, we started adding in horror gaming streams, which then took over the whole thing. We’ve been on pause for a couple of months due to the movie and the time difference but we’re planning on restarting soon and we’re probably going to be switching to more of a variety show format.

The games I’ve really enjoyed playing lately are:

Detention: Scary point-and-click adventure game set in a haunted school during the White Terror in Taiwan

Love, Sam: I dubbed this a “Reading Simulator” on the stream as a joke, but it was REALLY scary. You play an unidentified character, reading a school friend’s diary in their tiny apartment. As you read, things in the apartment being to move and change. Doors appear, taking you to different places. You realize that the diary may have opened the door for something to haunt you.

Stories Untold: Sort of a puzzle/adventure game. It’s 4 different games that each tell a story in different ways. The first game, The House Abandon, is a retro text adventure and each of the others keep the sme spirit if not the same mechanics. It has a great early 80’s style aesthetic to it.

The Glass Staircase: Made by Puppet Combo, one of the more interesting “auteur” game creators out there right now. This is effectively a take on the Resident Evil or Clocktower style survival horror gameplay, but in an Italo-horror environment. It’s really cool, but really difficult.

Speaking of recommendations! I am normally constantly on the hunt for, and learning about new music–although in 2020 my interest in this has regrettably waned quite a bit. I have to imagine that as a musian you’re constantly finding and listening to new things! I’d love to know your favorites from 2020.

The most recent I Like Trains album Kompromat was fantastic, a really great return for a band I was half-sure was done. It’s odd post-punk, extremely politically outspoken, dark and upsetting.

Ghostpoet’s I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is an amazing album as well. It’s an extremely sad, dark and introspective album.

A lot of my 2020 has been spent discovering things I missed from previous years too.

Vore Aurora’s Eidolon from 2018 is a beautiful, atmospheric dark synthpop album.

Carpenter Brut’s Leather Teeth is a great retro-synth dance album.

Creux Lies’s The Hearth is absolute The Cure-worship, but the songwriting and performances are so on-point.

This question is a bit silly, but I hope you’ll indulge me! Your wife Sonya sometimes shares your thoughts on the perfumes that they’re sampling, and I know I’m not the only one who loves to read about them! Unquiet Things readers are fragrance fiends as well, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’d love to know what perfume of theirs you’ve smelled recently…that you might base a horror story around! Tell us everything about this aromatic atrocity, please!

Oh god. So, the problem with writing a horror story about Perfume is you don’t want it to be derivative of the Patrick Suskind book!

So for anyone unfamiliar with Sonya’s “My Husband Smells” posts, Sonya collects all these samples from various boutique perfume companies and has me smell them and say what I feel they smell link.

The gimmick is that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I have no frame of reference for what traditional perfumes or colognes are “supposed” to smell like. This is only compounded due to the fact that I have bad sinuses which affect my sense of smell.

Ultimately, you’ll end up with a $400 bottle of expensive perfume and a review from me that just says “Smells like Dracula makeup?” because some chemical in it smelled sort of like Halloween makeup I put on as a kid and it triggered a sense memory.

The Story:

My perfume horror story would be based around us receiving a number of samples from some company that Sonya couldn’t remember ordering from, and that doesn’t have a website. 

Rather than triggering sense memories, the perfumes would cause us to relive entire moments in our lives. As we went down the series of samples, the memories would get more and more recent, and we would find ourselves unable to stop sniffing each of the samples.

The story would end with us testing the last of the samples, in a jet black, unlabeled nebulizer. As we each breathed it in, we would feel the air disappear from our lungs, the lights disappear and the walls close around us – we wouldn’t be in a memory from the past, we would be trapped  in a memory of something that hasn’t happened yet. 

We would be “remembering” being dead and being interred in a grave, unable to breathe or speak or escape.

The End.

Back to OBSO/LETE as we wrap up! Is there anything else you want to share about this project or what we can expect? I’m really looking forward to it!

We have about 7 days left on the campaign and we’ve just debuted our second of two t-shirt designs.

It’s really been a labor of love, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to make some new friends in the industry, Justin M. Ryan (penciller and inker) is also an accomplished writer on his own and has a fantastic graphic novel he put out a while back called Tresspasser. Todd Rayner (colorist) has an awesome comic book he does called Icepick.

In addition to OBSO/LETE, I also have a scifi-horror story called “Flickering” which just came out in an anthology from Eerie River Press called “It Calls From The Sky”.

You can pick up my first comic, Keepsakes, on Comixology, Seernova and TromaNOW!

You can also read a short comic I put up for free on my website: “Welcome Home.

Find G.A. Alexander: Website // Instagram // Twitter

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Vanitas II | Stojan Minev
Oil on canvas – 2015

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

This time last year: {November 2018}| {November 2017} | {November 2016} | {November 2015}

💀 The Losses We Share

💀 Green-Wood Cemetery’s New Artist-in-Residence

💀 COVID-19 has made this the saddest Day of the Dead in Los Angeles

💀 The Death Positive Movement Encourages Us to Face Death Directly

💀 Modernist home situated within Highgate Cemetery in London is up for sale

💀 ‘We can’t grieve’: online forum where Covid bereaved feel they can share

💀 Book reveiw: Funeral Diva,’ a Mix of Memoir and Poetry, Stirs the Body and Mind

💀 A church in Rome has over 3,000 skeletons on display. They give a chilling—but hopeful—reminder about death

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On Instagram today, I’m sharing some of photos of and peeks into The Art of the Occult that people have been so kind to share. This capture by my beloved friend Maika, featuring her darling danger noodle, is one of my favorites! Have you shared a photo of your copy? Please tag me so that I can see it!

I’m beyond humbled by the response my little book of magical art has garnered and can’t thank you all enough for your interest in it, your purchases of it, and for taking a moment to tell someone about it or to write a thoughtful review of it. (That said, if you enjoyed it, and have not already done so, would you consider penning a quick review for Amazon or Goodreads? Thank you!)

Speaking of Goodreads, there are ~three days~ left for the opportunity to win a copy of The Art of the Occult! Separately, if you missed the chance to grab an autographed copy from me, I do have a few more on hand, and I will ship both domestically and internationally, so please message me and we will work it out!

I will end this missive with a snippet from a lovely review that I just read. It’s simple, really, but it wonderfully encapsulates one of the ways in which readers can use this book: “…take each image and sit with it for a while, and see how it speaks to you.”

I hope that there’s at least an image or two in The Art of the Occult that, on some level, speaks to you. I would love to hear all about it!

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“History of Magic, Part II… Initiation” by Alison Blickle

This installment of fantastical fodder for your eyeballs appeared initially over at Haute Macabre on a Monday morning, brimming with mystical, magical imagery to inspire your week. I thought I might share here, on my own blog, as well! These visuals, by contemporary artists who reveal occult elements and philosophies through their creative gaze, all feature in The Art of the Occult, which was conjured forth into this world a month ago.

As an extra bit of magic, there is currently a GoodReads giveaway for three individuals to win a signed copy of the book!

“Under the rose” by Susan Jamison

See my interview with Susan Jamison here.

“Artemis” by Carrie Ann Baade

“Witches Sabbath” by Rik Garrett

See our interview with Rik Garrett here.

“Essentia Exaltata” by Madeline von Foerster

“Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm)” by Juliana Huxtable

“The Four Elements” by machumaYu

“Tea Leaf Reading” by Gina Litherland

“Eternal Cosmos” by Daniel Martin Diaz

“Astrology, the Myth of Creation” by Timur D’Vatz

“Abyzou” from The Demons of King Solomon by John Coulthart

See my interview with John Coulthart here.

“The Alchemyst” by Sveta Dorosheva

See my interview with Sveta Dorosheva here.

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Hello friends! It is my little book goblin’s birthday! The Art of the Occult is officially summoned into our realm today, October 13th, 2020, published by Quarto Knows. I never dreamed I’d see a stack of my own books on my own sofa, so I thought I’d commemorate the occasion with a capture of it cozied up next to some of my favorite gremlins and gargoyles.

Speaking of wee goblins and gremlins: Megan Rosenbloom was sharing with us last night that her toddler is obsessed with flipping through the pages of The Art of the Occult, marveling at all the pretty pictures “in a grown-up book.” This gave my heart such a rare and beautiful thrill. Do you remember how old you were when you first became aware of magic and beauty? I reckon it was very young. You may have seen something so thrillingly gorgeous that it haunted your dreams and has guided every twist and turn in your life’s path ever since. I hope The Art of the Occult can serve as that initial portal, that gateway to mystery and inspiration and a lifelong curiosity, never quenched.

Many of you are awaiting copies and I truly hope you like it! Please tag me in your photos and reviews, and speaking of reviews, It would be great if you could leave a few words about the book on Amazon or Goodreads or both!

If you would like a signed copy of The Art of the Occult, please message me, and I’d be happy to work that out with you. Please keep in mind, though, I ship things out once a week, so you might have to wait a little bit longer for your copy then you would if you had ordered it through a major bookseller. Just an FYI!

I currently have a giveaway for a signed copy of The Art of the Occult, and today is the last day to enter! Check out the Haute Macabre blog for details.

In super-extra-exciting news, the beloved aroma artists at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have created a series of scents celebrating and inspired by some of the esoteric works in The Art of the Occult, and you can learn more here!

Lastly, thank you for reading my writing here, my blog, where ever else you might have found me. Thank you for your support and encouragement over the years. And thank you for purchasing a copy of my little book of magic and art and wonder. It’s HERE!

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The Garden of Paracelsus, Leonora Carrington

For those of you who may not be aware, I thought now might be a good time to mention that my book, The Art of the Occult, will be conjured into this realm in just two months, on October 13! Which is unfortunately not a Friday, but what can you do?

The Mother of the World, Nicholas Roerich

A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology, and otherworldly experiences, it is my hope the mesmerizing, transformative works–both iconic and obscure– and their fascinating creators explored within The Art of the Occult will provide a wealth of inspiration to incite your curiosity, excite your senses, and perhaps inform your own practice – whether you incorporate them into your personal search for the truth, make them part of your magical philosophies, or experiment with them as part of your artistic techniques and processes.

The Zodiac, Ernest Proctor

The Art of the Occult is available for pre-order now but in the interim, here is a small gallery of some of my favorites, mystical imagery influenced by occult practices, esoteric beliefs, and magical realms.

L’Amour des âmes, Jean Delville
The Divine Breath, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn
La Sorcière, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
The Household Gods, John William Waterhouse
Illustration from Songs of the Witch Woman, Marjorie Cameron
The Primal Wing, Agnes Pelton

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It feels super weird and maybe a little tacky to keep mentioning my forthcoming little book goblin, but part of my job of having written it is to occasionally promote it. Please don’t get annoyed with me!

In the vein of keeping updates brief and lively for your eyeballs, I thought I might share a peek at the table of contents. Hopefully, this is what it will all look like in the end, but if it’s not exactly as displayed in these photos and screenshots, it will be pretty close. I’m pretty thrilled that they included this image of Waterhouse’s Circe Indiviosa here, it’s an incredibly gorgeous work, and one of my very favorites by the artist. What do you think?

To anyone who has already preordered a copy, thank you so much! Preorders help with creating an early buzz about a book, and it’s a clear message to the publisher that there is a demand for the author’s work. So I appreciate all of you for sending that message–it means the world to me!

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy, all of the details on The Art Of The Occult can be found here. 

Table of contents

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IG FAMA Inner Voice Series
IG FAMA Inner Voice Series

A few years ago I put together a blog post gathering of artwork that I had been gazing upon at that point in time, imagery that enraptured and entranced me, and that buoyed me and kept me afloat when life was feeling rough. Art, in this transportive and transcendent way, is a great balm for me. It always has been.

One thing I noticed about that little gallery, is that, though beautiful, it’s not very diverse, and to put it bluntly, it’s quite full of white faces. I know what my tastes and inclinations are, and I know what I personally find engaging and compelling (moody midnight feels and otherworldly splendor 4ever.) Without sounding too defensive (I hope) I will state unequivocally that I find beauty in all colors of faces and shades of people that inhabit the canvases of the art that I love. But. I’ve actively never examined where it is I am finding these works that I gravitate toward, and who it is creating them–and questioning myself as to why searches for the art I love are so exclusive and narrow.

Black art matters. And it isn’t that Black art is rare or that Black artists are in any way less talented, so why I am not seeing it? Well, the answer is that the onus is on me, as a passionate and enthusiastic admirer of the arts, to find it. To share it. To support it. And to that end, I have been making a daily habit of over the last few weeks, of actively seeking out art created by Black artists and makers of color.

We are living in strange and fraught times right now with this recent and unprecedented-in-our-lifetime pandemic calamity hanging over our heads and our homes, and the long-standing unjust, and, unchecked crisis of violence and oppression of Black people. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating, and  I have to believe that we can do better. I have to believe and push at our governing bodies to do better. I have to believe that we are on the precipice of a change.

And sometimes when doing and pushing and even believing is too much…I have to take a break and look at some art. Below are some articles and reading that I have found interesting, informative, and insightful, and below that, I have included a small but powerful gallery of incredible art created by brilliant Black artists.

Harmonia Rosales
Harmonia Rosales

🖤 Black Art Matters: Why Our Creative Visual Contributions Should Be Valued And Represented More Widely
🖤 The People Behind the Black Lives Matter Art Being Shared on Instagram
🖤 7 Prominent Artists Of The Harlem Renaissance In NYC
🖤 Here are 6 groundbreaking African American artists who have made history.
🖤 Culture Type Picks: 14 Best Black Art Books of 2019 (a few months old, but that’s ok!)
🖤 Young Black Artists Speak About the Role of Art in This Moment
🖤 6 Black artists to support during nationwide protests
🖤 Black-Owned Galleries to Support across the United States
🖤 15 Enlightening Books About Black Art
🖤 ‘Art Is Just A Language’: Dinah Poellnitz On Black Art And Protesting
🖤 10 Museums To Learn About Black Culture, Art, And Design In The US
🖤 Aaron Samuel Mulenga: The Power Of Black Art And Representation

Willian Santiago
Willian Santiago

Evening Sees by Taj Francis
Evening Sees by Taj Francis

Amber Tamm

Britney Symone
Britney Symone

Adekunle
Adekunle

Kelsey Arrington

Dani Pendergast
Dani Pendergast

Symone Seven
Symone Seven

labelleviee / Shaniece Simone
labelleviee / Shaniece Simone

Sam Baba
Sam Baba

Blossom 1 by Yirenkyi Asante
Blossom 1 by Yirenkyi Asante

Theresa Fractale
Theresa Fractale

Llanor Alleyene
Llanor Alleyene

“She Who is Black”/“She Who is Death” by Pea The Fear-y
“She Who is Black”/“She Who is Death” by Pea The Fear-y

Tawny Chatmon
Tawny Chatmon

Maurice Harris / Bloom & Plume
Maurice Harris / Bloom & Plume

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Roie
Image via

There’s a lot of different moving pieces that go into an image-heavy book like this that I never even thought about before I began work on The Art of the Occult. Obviously you must obtain permission from the artists whose work you wish to include… but it turns out that is not at all a straightforward process.

Between tracking down contact information for the artist (if they are still traversing this mortal plane, that is–otherwise, you might be dealing with galleries, estates, etc.) and actually finding them and receiving those permissions, you then have the concern of whether or not the artist can provide a high-enough resolution of the work, whether it fits with the layout of the book, and to backtrack a bit–whether or not the publisher even agrees that the images you’ve suggested will be appropriate for the overall project.

"Black Magic." Rosaleen Norton
“Black Magic.” Rosaleen Norton

In the course of this process of research and reaching out, which was never tedious, believe it or not–I live to track down elusive art and artists!– I got a lot of email bounce backs, and oftentimes even if the email appeared to go through, there were a handful of artists I never heard back from. Sometimes I did get a response and received a “no” right off the bat. Sometimes, too, this occurred after some back and forth between myself and the artist, and we arrived at the determination that maybe my book wasn’t a good fit for their artistic vision. And that’s OK! It really is. It’s not all going to work out, and you can’t always get everything you want, and after getting over a bit of initial disappointment, I frequently came to the conclusion that it was probably for the best.

With regard to those artists who are no longer with us, sometimes I couldn’t track down an estate contact, and when I did I never heard back from them.  If it was the publisher reaching out, sometimes they either couldn’t come to an agreement or they were perhaps unable to acquire a high enough resolution image that would work for this particular print medium.

"Lucifer," Rosaleen Norton
“Lucifer,” Rosaleen Norton

Sadly, such was the case with Rosaleen Norton, a fascinating artist and human I’ve long been enchanted with, and who was one of the very first individuals I had on my list for The Art Of The Occult.

Norton, an Australian artist who became widely known in the 1950’s as The Witch Of King’s Cross, was a natural trance artist who experimented with self-hypnosis and whose visionary explorations resulted in supernatural beings cavorting across the canvas; “pagan” art, which earned her continuous criticism and controversy. Occult writer Neville Drury wrote a detailed and thoroughly compelling account of the artist’s life in his book Pan’s Daughter: The Magical World Of Rosaleen Norton; I read it a great many years ago and was heartbroken when I lost it in hurricane-related flooding. I repurchased a copy early last year to pore through again when I began initial image research for this book, and even though in the end I’m unable to include any of Norton’s wildly evocative work, I am glad that I’ve got a copy of this book in my possession again. It’s quite a treasure.

"Lilith," Rosaleen Norton
“Lilith,” Rosaleen Norton

It’s quite frustrating to imagine (and I’ve got a good, catastrophizing imagination) that once the book is released there are going to be readers or critics who say “oh, I can’t believe she didn’t include X/Y/Z artist!” Well, the thing is, nine times out of ten, I probably tried to! And when you’re that reader, I get that you might be frustrated or disappointed to see a lack of representation when it comes to your favorite art and artists– so I just wanted to share a glimpse into why that might not always be possible.

At any rate, I like to think that there are a great many fabulous, fantastical artists who are illuminated betwixt and between the shadowy nooks and crannies of this forthcoming tome…and if you are one of those lovely and brilliant artists whom I directly interacted with, you have my sincere and profound thanks. In future posts I hope to give some sneak peeks into the art that will actually be in the book, as I realize it’s pretty unfair to show the stuff that didn’t make it!

I am told that despite the unstable, unsettling state of the world right now, we are still on target for a September 2020 publishing date and that is such a thrilling thing to look forward to right now. Thanks for coming along with me on this weird, wild ride.

Preorder links for The Art Of The Occult can be found here!

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