The Beautiful Horror of Existence
One of the things you notice almost immediately, is that Luca Carey has an amazing mind, and a unique perspective on human existence. His art is at once beautiful, and horrific, the latter of which seems to influence his mind-bending creations. The digital landscapes in his paintings are a forewarning for those who would gaze into the abyss, losing themselves therein, to their everlasting regret.
None of this however, makes Luca a miserable man. We met over coffee one chilly New York evening, discussing a range of topics, and he was quite pleasant to converse with.
I would imagine when you began as an artist, your illustrations weren’t of the kind you do now. Tell me what it was like in the beginning.
I always kind of liked all the colors, so drawing and coloring was just a thing I did growing up. I have a lot of my old drawings lying around and they reveal how influenced I was by anime and how little regard I had for technical accuracy and composition. I think I was a bit of a snowflake because a part of me assumed I would make good things if I simply exerted creative energy, but it wasn’t until late high school and college that I began to appreciate that these things require a very serious critical investment and selfless curiosity.
When I look at your work, I am reminded of such artists as Philippe Druillet, P. Craig Russell, and Jim Steranko. Did any of these artists have an influence on your work, were you inspired by them? If not, who were your idols when you began?
I had previously only heard of Druilet (I have one of his books). I am liking what I’m seeing in Russel’s Elric; I may have to check that out. I was largely inspired by video games and movies more than specific artists growing up. I had a fascination with ye olde FF7 [Final Fantasy VII] and Chrono Cross, but also enjoyed the demented monstrosities of Silent Hill (2). More than anything else, though, as I’ve previously hinted at, I just really liked strong combinations of colors and shapes. This is why I loved every design in the original Star Wars trilogy but also low poly sprite art and misty afternoons. In my adult life, I’ve taken more to the likes of Moebius, Beksinski, and Alex Grey in terms of my patron art saints.
Considering the psychedelic nature of your work, I feel I must ask if you partake in acid, or any other pharmaceuticals to maybe set you in the mood.
Allegedly. (No comment)
What medium do you work in?
I do all of my illustrations digitally, but I almost never go anywhere without my set of smallish traditional sketch books and tools.
The album covers you’ve done for several recording artists, are they your concepts, or theirs? Do you listen to their music before you begin work on your pieces?
It varies. The fun thing about what I do is that if you’re commissioning Luca Carey Illustration, you already know you’re going to get Luca Carey Illustration, if you know what I mean. That said, sometimes a specific scene and/or themes are requested. I always make an effort to listen to the music, and am sometimes rewarded with that not being an effort at all.
You refer to your art as “beautiful horrific visions”, but I see awe inspiring, powerful visions. Obviously you feel something in your soul, that you’re expressing through your art, that you consider to be of a horrific nature. What do you find horrifying in life, and how does it translate in your work? What are these visions of?
I have always found life to be a bit horrifying. There’s good in everyone and everything, but the same goes for bad. I’ve always been very curious, and curiosity is something that leads to some downright ugly realizations in the modern world. The true nature of much of what we take for granted as normal or positive is a horror show that’s slowly eating us alive. Art is a way for me to try and at least nudge things in a better direction, but you can’t do that without alluding to the presence of the horrific. You may see a lot of hidden faces and sketchy critters in my paintings, as well as a pervasive theme of what I’d loosely describe as a working ecosystem operating under sentient outbursts of madness and sometimes malice. I’ve had a series of dreams and nightmares to this effect; I’ve seen my fair share of endlessly disturbing creatures seemingly just hanging out in my dreams.
Having said all of that, we need not dwell too much on the painful and chaotic aspect of things, although they are necessary to consider. I want to create stories through color because that’s what makes me feel good as a human, but I also feel justified in that because the world needs more positive, introspective, creatively-minded expression. If at the end of the day all I’m good for is making cool orange and blue goblin monsters that’ll make 100 people feel stirred and uplifted for a couple of minutes, I’ll at least feel like I’m moving along a good path.
Check out more of Luca's artwork at RAINBOT, and follow his updates at Facebook.