Two ancient vampire households—The House of M and The House of Oh—will engage in the most unholy of wars on November 20th at Crucible Gallery. The battle will unfold through the ominous creations of artists Martin Darkside and Shane Izykowski who will be showcasing new work for their upcoming exhibit Darkness Eternal. There will be pain, there will be death and there will be plenty of blood.
Martin Woodhead, aka Martin Darkside, is an artist based in the UK whose work is inspired by the horror genre and morbid themes. He’s been featured in publications such as Bizarre Magazine, Gore Noir, Voodoo Queen Digital Magazine among several others, and has participated in various group art shows at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego, California, Penumbra Art Boutique & Studio in Portugal and more. Viewing his portfolio of work, spectators are welcomed into a realm filled with otherworldly beasts, occult symbolism and femme fatales. His piece “As Above, So Below” is particularly spellbinding. For Darkness Eternal, his work will unveil the story of The House of M, a coven of vampires that stay loyal to tradition.
The multi-talented Shane Izykowski was formerly based in San Francisco, California, and has recently relocated to Los Angeles. Not only does he paint, but he also specializes in other artistic mediums, including sculpting, photography, special effects makeup and filmmaking. The essence of his body of work captures a macabre spirit. You’ll find a sense of mystery and rawness pervades his pieces. Not too long ago at a past art show, I got my hands on the print version of “She Hid It With Her Hair,” which to me exuded haunting Victorian vibes. Izykowski’s art for Darkness Eternal will bring the wrath of The House of Oh, a band of immortals that possesses a viciousness that knows no bounds.
The artists have only given glimpses of the work to be featured, keeping the pieces mainly under wraps, but I had the fortune to interview both gentlemen about their latest exhibition. Martin Darkside and Shane Izykowski discuss what first attracted them to vampires, the inspiration behind their art for the show and more!
Q: The vampire figure has been woven into various aspects of history, from literature to film and pop culture. When did your fascination with vampires begin?
Martin Darkside: My love for horror and vampires began at a young age. I would say about seven or eight from when I first started watching Hammer House horror films. I then watched Lost Boys in the late 80s and it became a part of who I was and the love for anything to do with vampires grew and still to this day is a part of my life from the films I watch to my artwork.
Shane Izykowski: I was absolutely a monster kid. Like many artists who grow up to depict dark subject matter, I had a fascination with movie monsters and villains. The vampire was always something so enticing to me. When did I first enjoy them? I feel like I always have. I was always enamored with the romanticism of it. Anne Rice novels always had a huge impact on me, not to mention the countless and impactful vampire films I grew up watching (such as: The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Fright Night and newer films like Let the Right One In, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview With the Vampire). I’ve also been called a vampire on more than one occasion because of the late hours I hold for creating art in my studio.
Q: Where did you draw inspiration for the pieces you’ve created for Darkness Eternal?
Darkside: My inspiration came from a few things—my love for vampires and the book The Vampyre written in 1819 by John William Polidori (which later became the base story for Bram Stoker’s Dracula). I wanted to show my Vampires trying to blend and mingle into high society, keeping with the old ways and traditions whilst still feeding on those who surround them.
Izykowski: The inspiration for my series came from wanting to see more variety in the depictions of vampires. I wanted a new take on the characters, and I wanted to build the stories around them. Within the last year, my process for creating artwork has shifted into more of a collaborative effort with my subjects. I tend to pick people that I find interesting, and beautiful in their own way. The most important part of the process has become an interview of sorts, where I learn more about who the subject is.
It was no different for this series, where we would delve as deeply into their characteristics and personalities as we could, with one caveat: each portrait also metaphorically (and in some cases, literally) represents a different astrological sign. This decision was based more on the fact that the character traits of the horoscope could help dictate the story of each vampire. I led with the intention of building a coven of vampires who were all women or female bodied, with no male bodied or patriarchal figures. This was entirely on purpose, as I wanted my subjects to feel empowered, and not subservient in any way. Once I got a chance to speak with each model, symbology, costumes and characteristics were decided upon. It took me a year to conceptualize and photograph all of the photo reference for this series.
Q: The trailer for this exhibit is so enticing. How did the storyline originate?
Darkside: The storyline came out of many talks between myself and Shane about creating the difference in our two covens. We knew very early on that we would each be creating separate families, one based with more traditional views, and Shane was heading toward something more contemporary and the story grew from there.
Izykowski: The decision for the titles of our houses (Martin’s House of M and my House of Oh) were chosen later, as we realized that they needed monograms and names. The “Oh” in my house is actually my (first) birth name. The idea of two feuding vampire households was such a fun idea! And when you dissect the idea of the traditional vs. progressive or old vs. new, you begin to delve into our reality a lot deeper.
Q: Why did you two decide to collaborate on a show dedicated to vampires? And why do you think these creatures continue to fascinate humans after so many centuries?
Darkside: At the time Shane asked me to do the show with him, I had started working on doing vampire portraits and more vampire-themed pieces. To create a whole show based around something I love was a no brainer for me.
I think the fascination with all things that lurk in the dark and the unknown will always find its way into our lives through the tales to scare children, to stay out of the dark woods, to the thrills that came from books and films. Vampires themselves have been a part of our lives since the old world. From fear to love, we seem to be drawn towards them. I think they won’t be going away anytime soon.
Izykowski: I had wanted to do a vampire show for a while, and at the same time that vampires were on my mind, Martin had slowly been releasing vampire portraits online. I asked him to be a part of the show, and that I was sure we could make it all work. I think he said yes in good faith that working together would only be a help to each of us.
I believe people are still interested in vampires for a number of reasons: As we continue through this life and meet many different kinds of people, we realize that some of them drain us of our energy. These people are known as psychic or energy vampires, and absolutely exist. I think people like to see the proof of these, in the form of a mythological creature. There’s also the romantic and sexy aspect of the vampire that people will never grow tired of.
Q: Since this is a vampire-themed art show I have to ask—do you have a favorite vampire character?
Darkside: This is always a hard one to answer but since Lost Boys is my all-time favourite film, I would have to say David, but I do also love Gary Oldman’s version of Dracula.
Izykowski: I’m so glad you asked, but I cannot just pick one. Here’s a few of my favorites: Lestat, Gary Oldman’s Dracula, Eli from Let the Right One In and maybe one of the dudes from What We Do In The Shadows!
Q: Any teasers you’d like to drop about projects you’re working on next?
Darkside: Well, moving forward I am planning on doing more vampire-themed portraits. Also continuing building up more work in my dark series of still life paintings. The aim is to keep moving forward and creating new art.
Izykowski: Yes! The very next big thing I have going on is a featured show at The Dark Art Emporium in Long Beach, California. I’m titling the show “The Kind of Love That Doesn’t Die,” and it’s set to open on February 13th. I am exploring the ideas of love, lust, relationships and the permanence or impermanence of each. The plan is to combine paintings, recycled objects and sculptural elements to create impactful and meaningful artwork that anyone can relate to who has experienced love and loss. Thanks for asking!
Opening night of Darkness Eternal will happen Friday, November 20th at 8:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. PST) via Zoom, so anyone can join no matter where you’re located. Both Martin Darkside and Shane Izykowski have the invite link to the event located in the bios of their Instagram profiles. You can also find the event link on the Crucible Gallery Facebook page.
And, find out about future art shows at Crucible Gallery.