Interviews

Interview with Artist Nello Shep

by on Dec 2, 2014 in Interviews | 0 comments

1000 WORDS Nello Shep is a digital painter, whose work centers around surrealistic scifiscapes, and dreamlike depictions of outer space and the universe. Shep recently started working as an environmental concept artist on several indie games, and has spent the last few years studying physics and fine art in college. This month’s cover features Shep’s beautiful, otherworldly piece “Ouroboros.” APEX MAGAZINE: Many of your works feature a solitary figure in a much larger environment, as “Ouroboros” does. Is that something that strikes you before you start working on a new piece, or partway into creating it? NELLO SHEP: The lone figures in my work are always intentional, never a forethought. Most of the concepts I paint tend to center around a single figure experiencing a massive environment meant to dwarf their existence, but I never mean for it to feel lonely or isolated. The importance of a figure alone is that their environment is no less beautiful because of it. The universe, in all of the unique ways we may experience it, is still infinitely magnificent even if only one person is there to witness it. It’s the hardest aspect of my art to explain, and it will probably always be a theme I emphasize. AM: Futuristic imagery shows up in your work often. Do you think your art tends to lean towards an optimistic view of the future overall, or is it more unique to each piece? NS: I aim to depict an optimistic future in everything I create. Even if the subject matter I’m dealing with is bleak, I still want to have some little instance of optimism—something beautiful or captivating, like an alien horizon you want to reach before you come to a stop. It’s easy when you’re conceptualizing things like the future and technology to focus on all of the ways it could go wrong, but this is not the kind of future I care about. Rather, my work is meant to be a celebration of mankind’s bright future in the universe. I like to believe that someday my artwork might help people look to the future with a lot more hope than dread. AM: Many of your characters are looking away from the audience. Is that a conscious decision based on the piece you want to create? Do you think that brings the viewer more into your world, to follow the character, or gives the viewer more distance to see a new world? NS: I really try to make my artwork as immersive as I can. When a character is involved, I don’t like to have them looking back at the viewer, and I try not to render them out too explicitly because the character is never important. I consider them more like a vehicle my audience can use as a place to put themselves or some other figure they prefer. Maybe they’re human, maybe not, but I want to leave that up to my audience’s discretion. A work of art becomes more personal to me when I get to interact with it and make some part of it “mine,” so I like to leave little gaps for people to fill in themselves rather than keep them as a distant observer. The moment my art becomes personal to someone else, or the moment they can internalize it in some way, I consider that a success. AM: In looking at your wonderfully rendered Games of Thrones scenes, what is it about those particular scenes or characters that is inspiring? In these, or other inspirations, do they affect your other works over time? NS: Game of Thrones boasts some incredible scenery, and I wish I could see all of the planning that goes into their designs. The significance of those studies stems from the way the director chose to handle light and shadow; all three paintings come from the same episode, and all three handle light in very different ways. You could probably look through the mountains of film and TV show studies I’ve done and instantly be able to pick up on how inspirational this...

Read More

Interview with Marie Vibbert

by on Dec 2, 2014 in Interviews | 0 comments

2200 WORDS IT professional by day, writer by night, graduate of Clarion, and member of the Cajun Sushi Hamsters since she was sixteen, Marie Vibbert can tell you exactly which roller coasters she’s ridden. Her short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Escape Pod, and her poetry has appeared in Asimov’s, Eye to the Telescope, and Sanitarium Magazine. Nearly everyone will recognize the opening conversation in “Keep Talking,” in which a parent has gotten a new job, and must convince their family that moving away from everything they know won’t be the end of the world. Subtly and elegantly layered, Vibbert handles the prickly issue of what parents choose (or are forced) to give up for their children, especially when those children have special needs. It’s a question with no answer and a million answers, and she’s handled it with a gentleness any parent or caregiver will find comfort with. Vibbert makes you comfortable, then takes a sharp left turn towards the speculative. One question that does have an answer however, is what does a dance instructor have to do with SETI? More than you’d think. The answer to that question can be found in “Keep Talking.” Marie was kind enough to answer a few more of my questions as well, everything from researching autism, to her experiences at Clarion, to playing tackle football, to writing poetry. Questions about the “Keep Talking”: APEX MAGAZINE: Sarah isn’t the main character of the story, but much of the story revolves around her. What was the impetus to have an autistic character in this story, and did you do any particular research to ensure her condition would be shown in a positive and realistic fashion? MARIE VIBBERT: Actually, I always thought of her as the main character, but I’m biased by early drafts from her point of view. I wanted to have the story revolve around two people who had trouble communicating with each other, and brainstorming different communication problems led me to autism. I’d read an article about autism being under–diagnosed in women and decided to counter that by showing a woman with autism. Kind friends whose child has autism put up with endless questions from me and read all my drafts. (I was an absolute pest.) I also read articles online and talked to my husband, a software developer who writes for autism spectrum users. AM: What inspired this story? Were there any particular challenges while you were writing it? MV: I was riding home on a clear summer night, looking up at the stars and the moon, and I thought, “Wow, the light I’m seeing was emitted hundreds and thousands of years ago—what if SETI does receive a signal, but the civilization is already extinct?” The idea gave me a frisson of horror and I set out to turn it into a poem. I never got that darn poem to work. So I wrote the idea down in my Story Ideas file. Like many things in the file, it wasn’t a story yet—it didn’t have characters. At Clarion in 2013, when tasked to come up with a brand new short story on demand for week one, I turned to my idea file and picked this idea because I was always in love with it. In a flash I realized it needed a human relationship to juxtapose against the story of civilizations, something intimate—like a father and daughter. Even then, the story just wouldn’t work. I dropped the draft and wrote something else for week one. (“The Time Mechanic,” which came out in Intergalactic Medicine Show in September.) It wasn’t until Andy Duncan, our first week instructor, gave a lecture on mapping a story by character interactions that I sat down, drew my character tree, realized it was a stick, and added a third main character. Miranda allowed me to add a third perspective on communication and my little idea was at last a story! AM: While Gerald and his family are trying to come to terms with his new career opportunity, they suddenly find themselves...

Read More

Interview with Mark Greyland

by on Nov 4, 2014 in Interviews | 4 comments

1063 WORDS APEX MAGAZINE: Mark Greyland is a talented creator who transforms his art into a sensory and visual experience, and Apex Magazine is lucky to feature him as our November cover artist. Hello Mark! We’re thrilled to have your art featuring the cover of our magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist? How did you discover your love of making art? MARK GREYLAND: Much of the art I do comes from my synesthesia, a lifelong condition of sensory blending. I have always been drawn to the powerful images that are found in nature but as time went on I found that what drew me was often either invisible or irrelevant to the other artists, much less the people looking at the early pictures I was drawing. I think I was fourteen when I decided I needed to start taking visual notes of what I was seeing. I started focusing on the more geometric, as opposed to organic images in my twenties, after I had gotten some training in computer art programs. This is where I adopted the term ‘geofractal’ to describe my images. AM: Drifting Girl II is the second in a series of ‘Drifting Girl’ art pieces. They are very evocative! Can you tell us your insights behind the creation of Drifting Girl II? Are there connections between all of the Drifting Girl pieces? MG: Yes, the Drifting Girl series is, like all of my work, talking about itself. I have been dealing with a certain abstraction in the way I viewed the human body. I decided the best way to approach the problem was to make an abstraction of a female torso, then stare at it until the images sorted themselves out. This led to many experiments with fractals and other images to try and get the sense of overwhelming detail that I get when I look at a body. I have a new series as yet untitled where I am using a living model with consent and using human images in my pieces, so Drifting Girl led me directly to that. AM: How do you choose the colors and patterns that go into making each of your art pieces? What guides your technique and style? MG: That is perhaps one of the most difficult questions I have ever been asked about my work. I can’t explain about the patterns except I spent years designing personal library of vector images, interlace and overlapping circles, that sort of thing, but during the color and pattern stage it is me drifting in memory until I remember something and I find the closest images I have, incorporate them and get to work. I usually begin with a strong vector image and open it in Photoshop at the target resolution for the finished piece. From there I start transforming the image, make duplicates and apply effects and bring in other images to blend and transform what I am working on until I find the something I am looking for. The strong colors come from my inner world which is saturated with sound and image enough to keep the wolves awake! (Howls in the background.) AM: I noticed in your art gallery that some of the pieces feature the distinct shapes of cats! Specifically a cat named Pixel? Can you tell us more about how Pixel inspires you to integrate cats into your art? MG: Pixel the space kitten was a vector image I built in collaboration with my autistic son Forest. He was about eight years old and was telling me story after story about a kitten in his world with yellow fur (Forest is blond) glasses and a white T–shirt. The image caught me so much I started seeing this image like a children’s flash card of a cat only suffused with color, so I started trying to build the image. You will note I included Pixel’s image for the artist’s self–portrait. Pixel really is a part of me and has crept into a number of works I thought were going to be...

Read More

Interview with Ginger Weil

by on Nov 4, 2014 in Interviews | 1 comment

1660 WORDS Here at Apex Magazine, we pride ourselves on finding shining new voices in genre fiction. From the smoothness of Ginger Weil’s “The Stagman’s Song,” you would never guess this is her first fiction sale. With imagery pulled from her childhood, Weil has woven an eerie tale of hunting, of isolation, of family curses, and of escaping the trappings (literally) of living on the mountain. It’s a special kind of imprisonment when one of the prisoners knows she can leave at any time. But what will happen to those she leaves behind? Will they face an even greater danger? It’s the elephant in the room, that in “The Stagman’s Song” the family is loath to admit they are trapped by a curse. They all say they won’t leave because this is their home. And that’s another kind of trap, the one that gives you comfort and joy, and squeezes the life out of you until you no longer have the will to attempt to leave. And being trapped is only the lightest theme Weil touches on in “The Stagman’s Song.” Like an oil painting seen from across the room, the subtleties and directional brush strokes gain substantial depth as you step closer to what lies beneath the surface of this story. Ginger Weil still lives in the hills of Vermont, where she knows where all the libraries and coffee shops are. She’s had a multitude of careers, including bookseller, baker, librarian, and office manager. APEX MAGAZINE: A big theme in “The Stagman’s Song” is that of being trapped. Susan’s family is trapped on their mountain and trapped in their occupation, and the society in which they live shows no interest in helping them choose a different life. What inspired you to write a story with these themes? GINGER WEIL: That sense of being trapped definitely reflects some of my own experiences. I grew up in very small towns, and we were not–very–well–off. I was lucky to have family and friends who were able to offer me a lot of opportunities and help that not everyone has access to. My sense from reading in politics and economics is that it can be really hard to grapple with how much individual choices are constrained by knowledge of a situation, by the context of history and culture and a specific environment. The Leclairs are physically trapped because I wanted to make those limitations very concrete. I wanted to put Susan in an environment where her challenge was to make, not the best choice, but the best available choice out of a slew of not–very–good options. AM: The story takes place in the mountains of New England, and you live in Vermont. Is Susan Leclair’s home based on somewhere you’ve lived or visited? GW: The house is not a real house, but the land is a real place. Most of it, the feelings, the bones of it, the shape of the hill and the color of the light, comes from the mountain where my grandmother lives. The view out the kitchen window and the pine trees on the edge of the clearing are borrowed from my grandmother’s house. The rest of the mountain I stole in bits and pieces from places I’ve hiked with friends and family, especially Mount Equinox and Lye Brook Falls. The house is patchworked together from places I’ve lived and worked and visited. A lot of the housing stock in Vermont is over a hundred years old, and the cracked plaster came directly from the wall behind my television. I spent a year once working in an unfinished fieldstone cellar. I visit the Shelburne Museum as often as I can, and the wide planked floors are based on the attic of an old inn that has been relocated there. AM: Plenty of families across the country hunt, be it deer, pheasant, turkey and other animals that will feed their families through the winter. Susan’s family hunts the stagmen, a hunt that comes with a curse. How did you come up with the idea for how the curse works?...

Read More

Interview with Catherine Denvir

by on Oct 7, 2014 in Interviews | 0 comments

Catherine Denvir is an artist whose career path has taken her from illustration — a vocation in which her work appears in many publications — into painting to satisfy a growing fascination for the media, while working with a multitude of painting disciplines. Apex Magazine is excited to feature her art ‘The Incomplete Group’ on the cover of this issue. APEX MAGAZINE: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a painter? CATHERINE DENVIR: I have been painting for about five years, having taken a break after a successful career as an illustrator. I consider myself an emerging painter, still exploring the medium, the message, and the freedom with great relish. Although I have been working as an artist for quite a long time, it is only in the past five or so years that I have started to paint. I sort of wandered into it, so to speak, rather than made a choice. AM: At first glance, your piece ‘The Incomplete Group’ is very striking and chilling, in a good way, particularly when one notices the details of the piece — the costuming, posing, etc. that can add depth and story behind the subject matter. What was your inspiration behind this piece? CD: I sort of feel my way through a painting, the problem being at which point to reach a conclusion. I find it rather difficult to describe how I arrive at a certain image. The elements are things I have seen, photographed, drawn; ideas that suddenly come to me; something I read; even something very simple like noting the particular way someone is seated on a chair. Beyond that…? A picture somehow emerges… I don’t like to delve too deeply into how or why in case I break the spell. AM: Looking through your website, you have created a very distinct style and tone to your artwork. How did you conceive of this style? What sorts of processes do you use to achieve such consistency and maintain a recognizable style? How do you feel about your current style? CD: I very much enjoy working as I do at the moment but am always excited by the idea of veering in other directions I don’t think drastically, but as painting is quite new to me, I look forward to exploring on every level, and hope I will and know I should. AM: I read in your profile that you were a prolific illustrator before becoming a painter. What sorts of changes in your artistic philosophies made you choose painting as your next creative venture? How do you feel about your current vocation as a painter? What sorts of differences do you notice in the world of illustration versus painting, if any? CD: There is without doubt a strong thread between my painting and the illustrative work I used to do. The big difference being that the narrative is mine rather than a visual interpretation of someone else’s, be it a book cover or illustration to accompany an article. AM: The subject matter in your pieces seems mostly to revolve around puppet–like childish subjects, some with an almost fairy tale or old world quality. It’s all incredibly engaging for the viewer! What sorts of concepts do you reference to create your artwork? Are there any greater themes that tie them together or keep them separate? CD: I suppose it is the mood and atmosphere of the paintings that hold them together as a body of work and, of course, the style. AM: What do you love about creating artwork in the genres of fantasy, horror, and science fiction? Any advice for aspiring artists, both painters and illustrators alike? CD: It’s interesting: I hadn’t thought of my work as science fiction, fantasy, or horror, and, apart from the 19th century writer Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, and [Huxley’s] Brave New World, I haven’t read any. I did enjoy those, though. I am influenced by writing, quite a lot. Nabakov is a particular favourite and inspiration. The advice I would give to others is...

Read More

Interview with Kris Millering

by on Oct 7, 2014 in Interviews | 0 comments

You’ve seen Kris Millering’s fiction in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, Devilfish Review, and The Colored Lens, and this month Apex Magazine is proud to present “Coins for Their Eyes,” a grim but hopeful story about a woman who was recruited into a very strange occupation on the day she refused to die. The story has a supernatural bent to it, with the narrator only learning in dribs and drabs how her new “life” is supposed to work. How long will she be required to do this job? And more importantly, how long has she been doing this? There’s no way to know how much time has gone by, or how much is yet to pass. The Crossroads Man can give her back bits of her memory, but every time he does, she keeps her mortality a little longer. Is he training an apprentice or a pet? If you read the story first and then came over to read this interview, I’ll tell you right now that, yes, Kris knows all about dolls. Working at a tech firm by day, Kris always finds time for her passions of writing, photography, tinkering, and being the Communications Specialist for Clarion West. She lives in the foothills of the Cascades in Washington State. You can learn more about her writing and the work she’s done with Clarion West and their Write–a–thon at her website, krismillering.com. Questions about the story “Coins for Their Eyes”. AM: “Coins for Their Eyes” is a deeply focused and grim story involving what happens on the other side of violent deaths. What inspired this story? KM: I’ve always been fascinated by different cultural beliefs about death and what happens afterward. The psychopomp, the figure that guides the newly dead from life into death, is a powerful and recurring figure in so many belief systems. I’ve always wondered what someone who did that job would be like as a person. What would it be like to live in the thin space between the world of the living and the world of the dead? What kind of person could live like that, on both sides of the door and neither?   AM: The unnamed narrator is a creator of “ghost dolls,” and over the years, she’s become a very talented and efficient doll maker. The doll making scenes felt authentic and natural. What kinds of research did you do on dolls and doll making? KM: I actually have a small collection of the kind of dolls the narrator works with, so writing the scenes where the narrator works with the ghost dolls came pretty naturally. I’ve only painted a few of them myself — my hands aren’t particularly steady, so I generally leave the painting to people who are far better at it than I will ever be. I’ve done everything else that the narrator does, from stringing and restringing, replacing and positioning eyes, to making clothes and shoes so many times that it’s become pretty ingrained. AM: The people she makes dolls for are people who died before their time; they are mostly women, and often they died in violent manners. Was she chosen for this occupation because of what happened to her right before she walked through the door? KM: The short answer is yes. The long answer is that she was chosen for her force of personality and her great will, as well as the fact that she died during a liminal phase of her life, literally while she was on the journey from her childhood with her mother to whatever her adulthood would have been like. She was stuck on the threshold of her own life, and it was the same with her death. Mostly, however, she looked at death and said I refuse. The Crossroads Man liked that about her, and while he couldn’t take her back into life, he could offer her a reprieve. Beware the kindness of supernatural beings. It rarely ends well for mortals. AM: What’s next for our narrator? Do you think the Crossroads Man will ever let her go or at...

Read More