Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see yourself as a zombie? Well, that dream can be your reality! Zombies is what Rob Sacchetto does, every day, all day for almost two decades now; drawing thousands of portraits of people at a time to give them their perfect zombified experience. I had the honor to interview the man, the myth, the legend himself, who in 2006 invented the successful online service Zombie Portraits! And it’s as simple as sending a j-peg image of yourself and Rob hand paints you into the zombie of your dreams! Rob Sacchetto has zombified over 5,000 people around the world and his craft has become so renowned, he has been featured magazines like Australian horror publication, Decay to Maxim! Yet, the man stays humble to his fanbase and continually gives you the juicy zombie-ness you crave in many ways. His zombie art has been licensed for use on everything from puzzles, skateboard decks, T-shirts to journal covers and many other products!
Always busy, putting his craft to work in other avenues Rob has also created a zombie blog where he posts a new work of zombie art each day and somehow finds the time to work on two books, ‘The Zombie Handbook: How to Identify the Living Dead and Survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse’ which has been since translated into Spanish under the title, ‘Apocolipsis Zombie’ and with the anticipation of his next book, ‘Zombiewood: The Celebrity Dead Exposed’. Rob’s work has gained attention by noted zombie Author, Jonathan Maberry (Pine Deep trilogy), who asked the artist the create the illustration cards for his zombie novel series and alternate covers to the IDW comic miniseries based on Maberry’s first novel. In 2013, Rob published his first graphic novel titled, ‘Rob Sacchetto’s Cape Fear’ a horror, fantasy adventure with sequels in the works. He can also be seen in the documentary, Zombiemania among other zombie legends like George Romero, Tom Savini, Max Brooks & Greg Nicotero. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when he agreed to talk to us, here at the Blood Shed!
“For people who don’t know you yet, tell us a little about yourself?”
“I’ve been an artist for pretty much my entire life. Ever since I’ve was a kid. I’ve always been into drawing, always into art and pop culture, things like that. Being my age now, 50, you know, I can kind of say now that I kind of came from the dark ages where you know pop culture was a thing that you didn’t have much access to, so if you wanted to be into it, you had to be really into it to know where it was because there was no way to really access this as frequently as we can do it now. And so, I got into things heavily like John Oscar movies, zombies and comic books all that stuff at an early age. I pretty much drew that kind of stuff and as I got older, I was trying to figure out how to do art for a living type of thing. Around 2006, I basically invented this thing called Zombie portraits and ever since then, it has been my career.”
“Wow, that’s so dope. How does it feel to invent something so unique?”
“It’s really weird because…just to say I invented something, just to say those words it took me a long time to come to terms with me being able to say that. It’s hard to imagine inventing something that never existed before. And in 2006, I did these zombie portraits and a friend of mine said, ‘Ah man, this is a really cool idea. We should make this a thing.’ And we went online, and no one was doing it. Wasn’t a service, it wasn’t a thing at all, and you know, he was my webmaster this dude who basically said you know let’s try this out. He built me a website for me and literally overnight we were deluged with zombie portrait orders. It was insane. I was an overnight success that took me like 30 years to figure out type of thing. But once it happened, it was incredible. WE were everything. We were in all sorts of publications; we were getting all these news outlets where basically excited to come aboard and ask us all these questions about it. We were in Maxim magazine. It was really crazy.”
“Where does your fascination of zombies come from? Is that still from comic books and stuff like that?”
“Yeah, I think they’re cool because zombies are so different. Like Zombies can be basically anything, it’s not one of those things that was invented with a stamp on it like Frankenstein or Vampires or Mummies. Zombies can be anything, you can zombify anything and there’s certain characteristics art wise that I can identify my thing as zombies, as like a living dead thing or a rotting thing. It really opens to a lot of interpretation, there so much visual coolness, art wise with Zombies that you really can’t do with anything else. There’s only so much you can do with Frankenstein, Dracula or the Mummy. The other monsters have a set criterion but with Zombies, it’s really open. This kind of helps me do what I do every day. I put out a new zombie photo every day, you can zombify anything in the World. It’s really cool, that’s why I love it.”
“So why Zombie portraits?”
“You know it sort of came up as what I wanted to do with my career at the time and how do I turned my little drawing monsters and zombies into a money-making thing I can live off of. I always been doing it. To me if wasn’t some sort of a fad or wasn’t a trend or anything like that. This is something I’ve been doing all my life and when it became this a thing; when it became an actual viable, money making endeavor–I was all in. And once I started to do the zombie portraits, I started to think about what else I wanted to do with the zombie stuff, and I created Zombie Mail which I still do to this day. I created that in 2008 and I still post a new Zombie drawing every single day. I’ve been doing that for 11 years.”
“What do you think is integral to your work as an Artist?”
“I think for me, I’m a detail guy. I love doing a lot of detail work. I think diversity, as well. I really love taking on huge, insane inhuman kind of projects. Like right now, I’m doing the entire cast of the Simpsons as zombies. That’s like my thing, from all the other stuff I’m doing. Last year it was first generation Pokémon as zombies. There’s like 115 characters. Those are my side projects. I’m constantly working.”
“Do you have a favorite preferred medium you like to use?”
“For me, it’s watercolor paint, pen and ink, pencil crayon, marker. I’m old school you know, so I use all the tactile mediums. I don’t typical produce computer generated stuff even though, people think I do. I have stacks and stacks of original paintings sitting here from all the stuff that I do. It’s all that old school material.”
“How has your practice changed over time? Like from starting the Zombie portrait service to how you do everything now, how has that changed?”
“In the beginning, it became some sort of overnight success–it was insane. Like I had an actual job and I would come home from work, my wife at the time was handling things at home. And I would come home from work, like okay don’t tell me how many zombie portraits I have to-do–so just give me the orders and I’ll go into my studio and do it. I was still even learning how to paint correctly. So, I had to learn quickly how to do things. I’ve always been a fast Artist and deadlines are a big thing for me. I love deadlines. I love the necessity to get work done, I love working hard. And I’ve never said no to any job. I’ll do anything anyone wants me to do. I love that. I love challenges. The way I approve things, and even if I don’t think I can do it. I say yes and learn how to do it. For some things, I prep a lot of work. I hate to say this but like assembly-line type of work. That’s kind of what I do because of the volume of work that I do.”
“What type of Art besides your own, are you into right now?”
“Oh, I would have to say comic book art. I’m a huge fan of Frank Frazetta, William Stout, Bernie Wrightson…uh, I could go on and on. I’m just a huge fanboy of all the masters. Even the new guys coming out now, are nothing short of brilliant. It’s really mind-blowing.”
“What is a favorite piece of artwork you have done to date?”
“The cover to my first graphic novel, Cape Fear Power Struggle is my favorite piece of art. I love that cover. I think the only other thing I could think of is the Know your Zombie’s poster from way back, like
“What kind of impact do you think you’ve made on upcoming and coming artists?”
“To me, I revere so many other artists. I see some of the younger artists and I am the guy they are looking to for inspiration. It’s so strange. I don’t feel like that I’m that special or well versed. I’m just this work horse guy. Yet, I’m a mentor at a college. Art Institutions teach the techniques and history but don’t teach you how to make it a viable thing; to survive as an artist. I teach kids how to make a living doing what I do.”
Would you like to get Zombified by Rob Sacchetto? Here’s your chance! Post a selfie of yourself in the comments and the Blood Shed will chose one lucky person to receive their very own zombie portrait hand painted by Rob Sacchetto himself! One entry per person, please. All entries will be on reviewed on the website and the Blood Shed fan page until the winner is selected and we will display the winner for the world to see! Entries will be accepted until midnight, August 1st.
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