Saturday, August 27, 2016

Digging Up the Dirt with KillDozer and Artist Pete Novak

Like most conventions, Monsterpalooza is a great place to meet and learn about all kinds of artist, craftsmen, and creators. There is usually so much going on that it would take a full week to take everything in, but one artist who stood out last year was Pete Novak, an LA based lover of monsters. KillDozer had a chance to ask him about his craft and plans for the future.

KillDozer: Who is Pete Novak and what does he do?

Pete: I am an illustrator and a fine artist. By day, I work full-time as an illustrator in the entertainment industry at an ad agency that specializes in video games. At night, when it is late and I am most creative - and when no one is watching - I make my own fine art for my own pleasure.

KillDozer: Last time we spoke at Monsterpalooza, we discussed your digital work. Which do you prefer to work with, digital or physical medium and why?

Pete: I think both media have intrinsic strengths and weaknesses. I love the flexibility and speed of digital. And Photoshop offers new tools and ways to work that are impossible to replicate in a more traditional medium. Combining Photoshop and a 3D program like ZBrush, really gives you some new avenues to pursue. Digital is awesome for creating "happy accidents."

On the other hand, nothing beats the physical presence and beauty of a large oil painting. And with a traditional medium, you get to see more of the hand and personality of the artist coming through the artwork. Some of that is regrettably lost in digital works.

KillDozer: I would love to see a sculpt of "Cthulhu Bride." Have you ever dabbled in sculpting any of your creations?

Pete: I am not a trained sculptor, but I am learning ZBrush, which is a 3D sculpting program that is the perfect synthesis between drawing and sculpting. You use a pen to stroke form onto an object! Right now, I feel that 2D work, or painting, is a little bit harder and more complex than sculpture. In 2D you have to try to master all the elements of color, light, perspective, form, and how to SIMULATE that form on a flat surface, creating the illusion of 3D. In sculpture, you basically have form only, and maybe local color of the form. The new part, for me, is that you have to make the form work from all angles, not just the view you have chosen to present to the viewer. So it's a bit of an adjustment.
In the future, I would like to explore 3D printing of my work/virtual sculpts.

KillDozer: Where does the inspiration for these creatures come from? Specifically, how and why does "hippo man" exist?

Pete: Well, hippo man was a character for Ian Joyner's ZBrush class, where I began studying digital sculpture. But my personal work is done as abstractly and as subconsciously as possible. I try to figure out the meaning of a piece through the act of creating it. I work with feelings, impressions of images, memories, things that elicit excitement inside, and start to meld some of these things together. I create a springboard to jump off of into the piece. I also use a lot of techniques to create unexpected twists and turns, that I can then have a creative dialog with which will lead me to new and unexpected places. So, a lot of times, I am not sure how or why... Art helps me explore the subconscious, through metaphor.

KillDozer: As dark as some of your pieces are it seems as though the use of light is extremely important when giving an image mood or atmosphere. How do you go about choosing where the light will used in a piece? Is that something you learn or is it a natural instinct?

Pete: I think that the one "natural talent" I had when I started my art education was shading form, the use of light and dark. It is how my brain processes form. Other artists use line, but I definitely use tone. But I definitely learned a lot more at Art Center, where I went to school, about the technical side of composing artwork. The decision of where to use light in a piece is pretty much dictated by the emotional tone of the subject, and what looks "cool."

KillDozer: Do your pieces start as sketches? What does the creation process look like? How long does a piece take to go from being an idea to a reality?

Pete: Sometimes my pieces start as sketches, sometimes as feelings or ideas slightly out of reach of clear conscious thought. Sometimes inspiration comes from other artworks, including film, music, and writing. I am not sure if any two pieces are created the same in my personal work. Sometimes I throw bits of random images together and look for inspiration there, in the chaos. Most times it starts with some unnameable urge to create! Pieces can really take any random amount of time to make. Some pieces are done in as quickly as eight hours, while others take as much as 40-50 hours. Everything is kind of forming under the surface slowly over the years, waiting to be born at a time when it deems appropriate!

KillDozer: Do you ever get the urge to make something "cute" or "cuddly"? Why monsters and creatures?

Pete: Well, I think when I started art, I incorporated a lot of "cuteness" into my work, naturally. At Art Center, people likened my work to Tim Burton or Mark Ryden, due to the surrealistic marriage between cute and creepy. It is something that I have lost a little bit of, over the years. But recently, I have been contemplating working it back in. Why monsters? I have no idea. It is just inside.

KillDozer: Were you always a "monster kid?" What inspired you as a child?

Pete: Yes! I was always, most definitely, a "monster kid." My very earliest "loves" were of sharks, skulls, haunted houses, and, when I was 7, the creature from Alien. It never ended.

KillDozer: What is the overall goal for you as an artist?

Pete: To inspire someone somewhere sometime as much as artists like David Cronenberg, Clive Barker, and Tom Waits have inspired me.

KillDozer: Other than Monsterpalooza, where can someone view and purchase your art?

Pete: Currently, that is the only place where I really sell stuff seriously. But one can always reach me through my website/email:, and arrange any purchase of any print, small or large and framed.

KillDozer: Okay time for some fun quick questions! Out of all your creations who would win in a monster "Royal Rumble"?

Pete: Hmm….well, I will go with the Alien (you know…first love, 'n' all….).

KillDozer: What is the soundtrack to your work?

Pete: Bohren & der Club of Gore - "Black Earth"

KillDozer: What was the last film you watched that blew your mind?

Pete: Hard to pick….I will go with several…Naked Lunch, Jacob's Ladder, and Spirited Away. Oldies but goodies.

KillDozer: What painting from any artist ever would you pick if you could have it free in your home? and why?

Pete: Wow, that is an impossible question to answer. The options are so endless. So many beautiful things to choose from, I think it would be torture to have to decide!


As many of you know, Son of Monsterpalooza is just days away, and Pete will be attending, and bringing along some new art to display. So be sure to stop by and check it out!
But if you can't make it and would still like to see more of Pete's creations, get in contact with him, or get your hands on his artwork, visit his site He also has an artist station you can find here


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