Artist You Should Know : Shane Izykowski
The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights local artists before they exhibit their work somewhere awesome, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place. Meet artist Shane Izykowski, and checkout his horror and Halloween themed events at Art Attack this Month.
We couldn’t think of a more appropriate artists to introduce you to this Halloween than the horrifying, the shocking, the disgustingly versatile and talented Shane Izykowski. We did the math, and figured Shane is a octuple threat, meaning he does painting, sculpture, photography, makeup, costumes, videography, illustration, and probably scares the shit out of small children and animals on the weekends just for fun. We asked him some questions about his upcoming shows in SF, his artistic vision, and how many chopped up body parts he has in his freezer right now. Enter at your own risk…
Name: Shane Izykowski
YES! I have been costuming for as far back as I can remember. My mom, dad, sister and I helped with haunted houses when I was younger. This instilled such a gratifying feeling when I succeeded in scaring someone. That love turned into a costuming obsession, which now includes stilt-walking, an industrial voice changer, puppets and all kinds of special effects and makeup. My stilts have fiberglass springs, so you can actually run and jump on them! Admittedly, I’ve chased people down the street, adorned in a full clown costume with a silicone clown mask. I haven’t done that recently, for fear of getting shot.
It depends what kind of fear we’re talking about. I enjoy getting totally freaked out by great horror films. That feeling will always be nostalgic to me, as I grew up with classic Universal Monsters and B-Movies. I can still recall specific scenes in films over the years that gave me goosebumps and made the hair stand on the back of my neck. The kind of scared I don’t enjoy is real terror. Not to get too much into politics, but the current social climate is terrifying. When you’re watching the country tear itself apart from the inside, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop it, being truly afraid is that helpless feeling of watching the news, reading a tweet or seeing a senseless act committed right in front of you. Sorry, that answer took a dark turn, but hey, you asked.
What are you trying to communicate through your art lately?
Lately I’ve been on a personal quest to get people to understand my artwork on a deeper level than just face value. At first glance, a lot of people just shrug my artwork off as too scary or that it’s not necessarily something they’d hang on their wall. My work has always had a tinge of the macabre, and I fully understand that that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I am just amazed that the modern horror genre is so prominent in our culture, but dark art and horror artwork is not more widely accepted as fine art. I’ll be touching a lot upon this subject at my Artist Talk / Opening Reception at Art Attack SF (October 17th, 6:00-8:00 p.m.).
Favorite horror film right now?
I just re-watched Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In,” and it reaffirmed my complete adoration for this film! I actually watched it again as a point of reference for my gig as a production designer on a short horror film called “Snaggletooth,” by (the production company) End Timey. The strange thing about “Let the Right One In” is that it was remade just two years after, for American audiences, renamed “Let Me In.” The original version is perfect in so many ways, where the newer version completely misses some of the points that make the original a masterful piece of cinema.
I moved here in March of 2015, and landed a job with Merlin Entertainments at the San Francisco Dungeon on Fisherman’s Wharf. I was the Displays Lead, with about thirty to forty actors, and I worked on props, costumes, makeup and sets. My work at The Dungeon got me a promotion onto the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum side of the attraction, owned by the same company. I held the position there, as the Lead Artist, for about a year and a half. I learned a lot, met some amazing people, and came upon the realization that I needed to work toward becoming a full time artist.
I’m a sophisticated graduate with a BFA or FUCK art school!
I would say, in my early years, I was a good student. Later in life, when I discovered things I actually enjoyed doing, my academics started to suffer (along with my attention span). I’ve learned what I know through trial and A LOT of error. It’s always been easier to prove what I know by actually doing it, rather than having down on paper what my qualifications were. I wouldn’t necessarily say “Fuck Art School,” because I know a lot of people get enrichment through it. My main gripe with art school is how expensive it can be, and to start with enormous debt after college is like shooting yourself in the foot and then having to run for miles. I don’t necessarily think all art schools provide all the information you need to be a working, modern artist. Artists nowadays have a completely different set of challenges (and advantages) that artists in the past didn’t. I think art schools need to modernize their “art marketing” classes, teach networking and selling your work as an independent artist and really start identifying the difference between different art fields. I know plenty of people who graduated from art school, and are not working in the art field. They either get discouraged that their “art isn’t good enough” or that they didn’t get the job they wanted. What these schools need to teach more of is how to network based on the exact art field you want to go into. What they seem to skip over is the fact that when you’re a freelance or independent artist, you end up spending half of your time promoting your work through social media, and half your time making art.
What does it take to make it as an artist in SF these days?