Rob Sacchetto Interview
What do Greg Nicotero, Chris Hardwick and the old lady that lives next-door have in common? Well, chances are they have all been zombified by Rob Sacchetto. Since 2006, Sacchetto, through his site ZombiePortraits.com, has been creating one-of-a-kind zombie portraits for customers from all walks of life. With thousands of portraits in his portfolio, Sacchetto, much like his putrid muses, refuses to cease his relentless quest to expand the ranks of the undead army. Sacchetto’s has had his work commissioned for everything from puzzles and playing cards to best selling novels, but still makes time to do what he loves best, turning you into a work of uniquely decayed beauty.
1. Clearly you have a deep seeded love of the undead, but what was it that got you hooked on zombies?
I was always hooked on monsters of all kinds. First dinosaurs, as virtually every young boy is as some point, then big movie monsters like Godzilla and other rubber suited kinds. This gave way to more of the humanoid type creatures like Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man and others. Then came Zombies! The first Romero “Night of the Living Dead” blew my mind, and by the time I saw “Return of the Living Dead,” (my favorite Zombie Movie), I was totally hooked!
2. Was your love of zombies and art always intertwined?
I was drawing Zombies as early as grade 4 or 5 amongst other things, and have consistently drawn them since then. They were never a fad to me. I didn’t just start drawing Zombies recently because they’ve become more in vogue. I’ve always drawn monsters, dinosaurs, robots, and sci-fi/horror stuff all of my life. So, yes, I’d have to say they’ve been the main staple of my artistic interest all of my life.
3. On your Facebook page you wrote, When I was in grade five, my teacher wrote on my report card: “Although a talented artist, Rob needs to focus more on Spelling and Math, instead of drawing monsters.” What are your thoughts on this teacher’s comments? After achieving success and fame did you ever think about returning to your old school(s)?
HA! And rubbing their noses in it? Nah. I’m sure that all of those teachers had my best interests at heart. It’s tough being an artist, especially in Canada, and especially in the field I chose. I’m sure that they never saw my future being the guy who’s trying to Zombify the World one portrait at a time, heck, neither did I, but I’d always hoped!
4. From your teacher’s comments in 5th grade it’s obvious that you have been drawing monsters for quite some time. Is there any other subject matter that you enjoy illustrating?
Chicks man, chicks! I grew up with artists like Frank Frazetta, Serpieri, Richard Corben, and pretty much the whole “Heavy Metal” crowd amongst others, so it was only natural that I gravitated towards incredibly well drawn, beautiful women. I feel that drawing the female form is just an outstanding exercise in artistic expression, and I have utter respect and love for women of all shapes and sizes. In fact, a lot of the art that I do for my Zombie Daily section in my Zombie Portraits website involves many many Zombie Pinup Girls.
5. When did you first begin doing zombie portraits?
The first OFFICIAL Zombie Portrait I did was way back in 2006, but I had done many versions of my friends in school as Zombies decades before. When we started the service in 2006, we scoured the internet to see if anyone else was doing it and came up with nothing, hence the great domain name, Zombie Portraits. Alas, many others now offer the service to varying degrees of success, and there are ‘apps’ that can make you appear to be a Zombie too…sigh. Of course this has not affected my Zombie Portrait service in the least as we are doing more portraits every year!
6. Did you always plan on making a career out of monster and zombie illustrations?
Well, I’ve always wanted to, but never really knew how, then this ‘internet’ thing came along and really opened up new avenues for artists of all kind! I originally wanted to be a comic book artist, and have worked in the field professionally, albeit ever so slightly. Although I have just released my first full 150 page graphic novel ‘Rob Sacchetto’s Cape Fear’! It’s a story about the God of Fear on earth and it’s jam packed with monsters, Gods, Aliens, and a Zombie werewolf!
7. When you first started offering your services as a zombie portrait artist how was it received? Did people immediately embrace your services?
When we first offered the service it literally blew up! It was close to Christmas and I was literally deluged with orders from around the world! We got some press about it and I almost burned out from the lack of sleep necessary to keep up with orders. Plus I was working a day job at the time too, luckily I was able to work on portraits while I was at work!
8. Do you find that customers have specific requests that they would like to see in their portraits or do you largely have creative license to rot as you see fit?
At this point there are literally thousands of examples for people to see, and they basically just want a portrait like the ones they have already seen. I’ve really catered the art to a point where it’s very highly idealized and people now know my work the moment that they see it. The odd time there might be a request for a specific background, or ‘less gore’ or ‘can you stick a pencil in his head’, to which I’m more than happy to oblige.
9. What has been the strangest zombification illustration that you have ever done?
Doing babies and toddlers still kinda freaks me out a bit. I did a guy holding a chicken, a kid holding a shotgun, TWO separate portraits of people in water with dolphins, a thousand wedding portraits, beautiful nudes, families, all sorts and so many…I don’t think anything is weird anymore!
10. Who has been your favorite person to illustrate as a zombie? Why?
Bald guys with no facial hair wearing black T-shirts! HA! It’s just that they are the easiest to Zombify! No, really, I’m not sure if I have a favorite person to Zombify exactly. I think that the one person that I’ve Zombified the most would have to be my best friend Joel, who does all the promo and web work for Zombie Portraits, and runs the ‘Human Marvels’ website. He basically got Zombie Portraits going from the beginning for me as I am totally clueless with net stuff. I think that for whatever reason, be it promo, or just using his image as a reference for a product, like my Zombie Birthday card, I’ve turned him into a zombie more than anyone else….I guess Osama Bin Laden too…he’s great to Zombify because he’s so hated the world over, and people would love the chance to shoot at him over and over again…
11. You have zombified everything from families and pets to pin ups and celebrities. Is there anyone or anything that is off limits?
Ha! No! If there is, I can’t really think of what it can be. I’d like to say that if the price was right, I’d draw or Zombify anything, but for me it really is the challenge in doing a custom request. I really can’t think of anything that I’d shy away from.
12. Celebrities tend to be sensitive creatures. Do you tend to ask permission before turning a celebrity into a zombie? Have you ever been asked not to do a portrait or had one become anger that you did? (You don’t have to name names, unless of course you want to, in which case please name names!)
Well, it’s really all in the name of fun and parody, so no, I’ve never asked permission from a celebrity, plus, they’re notoriously hard to get on the phone. I remember one ‘incident’ while I was attending a convention however. I was selling prints of some celebs, one of them being Leonard Nemoy in his ‘Spock’ persona. Well Leonard was actually AT the same con and a person who purchased the zombified Spock print from me had asked him to sign it…they told me that he refused to sign it, saying flat out, “I’m not signing that.” Of course who knows if it really did happen, but it just seems a weird thing to make up. I do also get into an awful lot of trouble when I do images of the “Royals” as Zombies, and they make British tabloids or websites. The people commenting on the art are incredibly incensed and some have even called for my arrest! Sheesh! I therefore announce my drawing of ALL the royals coming up later this year! There are some other cases of celebrity ‘incidents’ but I’m legally bound not to discuss them.
13. Zombies have recently experienced a dramatic rise in popularity. What are your thoughts?
Well, of course there’s a good side and bad side to everything. The good is, finally Zombies have their day at the top of the horror heap. It’s very well deserved. There are endless ways that zombies can be handled and presented, and if it’s done with a love for the genre, those interpretations can be very rewarding, memorable and worthwhile. On the other hand you’ve got the ‘Cashinners’ yeah, I just made up a word, but what else do you call people who exploit a genre because of its popularity for a quick buck or notoriety cranking out crap products. These people are the reason others are ‘sick of the whole Zombie thing’, and this really bothers me, however it’s a fact of life that these people exist, and they’ve ruined other great genres besides Zombies before. Whattayagonnado?
14. Aside from doing private zombie portraits, you have numerous other books and projects in the works. Could you please tell us a little about what we can look forward to from you in the future?
Let’s see…A Rob Sacchetto full deck of Zombie Playing cards brought to you from the makers of Bicycle and Bee, (The United States Playing Card Co.), Zombie Shooting targets by Duratargets, which are incredibly fun! A Zombie Pinup book, the afore mentioned 150 page Rob Sacchetto’s Cape Fear graphic novel, and tons of other stuff I can’t mention here yet! My main love beyond all the products and books and such still remains doing YOUR Zombie Portrait! I love doing the portraits and have never considered the people ordering them ‘customers’ but rather friends! I will NEVER tire of doing these and even after zombifying literally thousands of people around the world, I’ve never grown tired or blasé doing them and making the recipients of them happy. I consider it an honor whenever a Zombie Portrait is requested. I LOVE working ‘for the people’ and have always considered myself an artist of the people. It’s my dream come true!
Category: Zombie News