Meet Zine-Making Horror Pop Artist Kristilyn and her company Zombie Romance!
In the previous blog post I wrote about my chance meeting with female film making duo Marcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman (Writer/Directors of Nobody Can Cool) at Rock and Shock (2013). Coincidentally our interview here today is thanks to another bad-ass lady artist discovery from that same convention.
As I walked along all the vendor tables – drooling for movies, tee-shirts, toys, etc– I came across a table that completely stood apart from all the rest. Zines (self published magazines) have always been near and dear to my heart but never something I expect to see at a horror convention.
Kristilyn won me over on three counts in a matter of seconds:
1. She was selling zines (irresistibly horrifically adorable ones)
2. She had prints and pins titled “Women in Horror” with super appealing distinctive style; a form of visual eye candy.
3. She was totally fucking awesome
It is certainly not easy to reject the 9-5 route — especially when you are an artist but Kristilyn is quite inspirational to all who wish to travel that path. It takes exceptionally hard work and she gives it all full time for her business, Zombie Romance where she specializes in Horror Pop Artwork, Jewelry, Apparel, Zines & More.
We couldn’t be more excited to share her words and her work with all of you. Consider checking out her Etsy shop and spreading the love.
Without further ado…. The lady of the hour.
Hannah Neurotica: It’s not every day I meet a fellow female horror fan who also makes zines! How did you first discover zines and what was the first zine you ever made like? I read in your bio you used to make flip-books so I am going to guess you have been doing creative things with paper since birth?
I’ve been hand making books and comics since I was little. Self-publishing is a soothing artistic process for me. In high school, I had two friends who started up a zine called Tin Parachute, which they sold in school for fifty cents an issue. I really loved collecting them and eventually submitted art and articles of my own.
When I got to art school, I started making stick figure comics for fun about the animation department, which is where I spent most of my time. A fellow classmate proposed to me to turn them into a weekly.
I started making weekly one page comics zines and other students would contribute as well. I distributed them for free from a box outside the department door. They became popular and eventually I compiled anthologies. When I graduated, the weekly was kept running by comic artists Liz Prince and Tim Finn. I still make zines to this day, though no longer on a photocopier!
Hannah: Do you get difference responses to your work at places like Rock N’ Shock vs. a gallery show? Your table really stood out from the rest and was a memorable part of the con for me. Had you done horror conventions before?
Kristilyn: In the past five years I’ve shown at many conventions and galleries around the east coast and there have been a plethora of responses to my work in that time, mostly positive. Conventions are fun to work at because they draw people who share my interests. Galleries can bring in anyone from anywhere, so my work will get more curious inquiries on what it’s about. “What’s with the blood and girls?” “Do I know that anime stuff?” People who get it, though, get it. Occasionally, I will get someone who completely does not get my work. I had one guy at an open market sincerely ask me if I was “mentally stable” because he found my work so unsettling. You can’t help but laugh at something like that.
I try to pick venues to show my work where I will get the least amount of those types of responses. The galleries that feature my work focus on illustration or pop art, like Zapow in Asheville, North Carolina or Foe in Northampton, Massachusetts. I vend around 30 anime, comic and horror conventions and indie craft shows a year. Rock and Shock is my favorite local horror convention that I’ve been working at for four years now. Last March, I drove down to Charlotte to attend Mad Monster Party, which was probably the most fun I have ever had at a convention!
Hannah: I love how beautiful and girly yet evil many of you your illustrations can be. Have you always incorporated horror themes into a lot of your work?
Kristilyn: In ways I always have here and there. I would privately draw edgier things here or there through school up until I got to art school, where I just felt really free to explore my brain and supported for it. I really got into horror in my senior year film class. We made a horror short for our final project called “Rubber Whore Hell.” I watched a lot of classic horror, but I think the zombie and satanic horror has made the biggest impression on me. My work started taking a more freely darker turn after that.
Hannah: You started your own business- an art based business – which is one of the hardest things a person can do. It is so inspirational to see people really follow their bliss like that but it can be a scary leap for many. Did you have any self-doubt before making that decision? Any advice for artists who want to start their own business?
I had a ton of self-doubt. For a long time I didn’t think I could do anything with my art as a career and I worked in offices and did art as a hobby or as a favor. I think Anais Nin says it best though, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” That day eventually came for me and while it is a scary road, it’s totally better than where I was before. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to finally.
For artists who want to start on their own I would advise these three things: practice, perseverance, and relentless positivity.
Hannah: Are there any creative mediums you haven’t explored yet that you would like to?
I really want to get good at watercolors and digital painting again. I have been focusing on working with inks and brush pen and I’d like to branch out into those mediums as well to mix things up a bit. I’m dreaming about a beautiful tablet to work on!
Hannah: What projects are you currently working on?
Kristilyn: Currently, I’m doing some art direction on some sequences in an upcoming film called Magnetic by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein, which I’m really excited about because I love being apart of film-making in anyway. I just finished up album art for Mary Bichner’s upcoming EP Alice’s Evidence which is a musical setting of chapter 12 of Alice in Wonderland that’s due out in May. It features an ensemble voice-over cast of some of Boston’s best musicians and Mary has composed a score to accompany it. It’s brilliant! Aside from that, I’m continually working to build my skills.
Thank you so much to Kristilyn for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you love her artwork as much as we do. You can support indie artists like ms. Kristilyn by shopping her Etsy store and/or sharing her work with others who may not have the opportunity to see it otherwise.
Visit her Etsy Store to see the huge selection of work–> https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZombieRomance?ref=s2-header-shopname
And give her a like on Facebook to keep up with new works & events—> https://www.facebook.com/zombie.romance.kristilyn