Madame Grotesque is a talented young lady hailing from Braintree, Essex, and creating beautifully raw artwork for all of us to enjoy. Her work is simplistic and complex at the same time, a mix of mediums and emotions, often dark in themes.
As she says on her Facebook page, “I like to paint creepy stuff.”
And that she does. Her style is reminiscent of the artwork of Tim Burton, and even Alex Pardee to some degree, but each piece is truly unique and a pleasure to view.
I was lucky enough to have a brief chat with her, to get to the bottom of where these dark visions come from.
Enjoy the artwork and interview with Madame Grotesque!
HH : Your work is a beautiful mix of mediums. Do you have a favorite way to create your art?
Madame Grotesque : Thank you, I usually just sit and play around with doodles, that’s how paintings begin. Then I’ll draw them out ‘properly’ and add paint later on. Even though they are paintings, it’s purely line-work to begin with. It’s not so much a favourite way, it just makes things easier for me.
HH : The influence of Tim Burton is prevalent in your work, although you completely make it your own. Do you have a favorite Burton film that inspires you?
Madame Grotesque : As much as I enjoy his films, it’s more his art work that inspires me. Although, saying that I’ve always loved his short film, ‘Vincent.’ I remember being quite a lot like Vincent when I was a child, and maybe in some ways like Tim too, without realising it. I didn’t ‘fit in’ throughout my whole education, so drawing and admiring Burton’s films/art was a nice escape for me. In regards to his art work I’m fascinated by these ‘undesirables’ that he’s created in his book of tales, i.e. ‘The boy with pins in his eyes’ and ‘staring girl’ just to name a few. I feel like I can relate to them, maybe not physically as I don’t have pins in my eyes, and I’m not a voodoo girl, but these souls that have just as much feeling as we do and each of them has their own unique quality, albeit rather twisted ones. But that’s why I love it. It’s different and throws in an element of humour too.
HH : Some of your pieces come with poems attached. Which usually comes first, the visual or literal?
Madame Grotesque : It entirely depends on my mood. If I’m having an ‘artists block’ for some bizarre reason my creativity makes an appearance in the writing side of my work. I’m generally not a writer at all, I don’t read much and I’ve never been good at describing things, hence why my written work is often child-like. Sometimes I find it quite difficult to write a poem from a painting, which again is strange because you’d think with the image there as inspiration it’d be in fact easier right? Not with my brain apparently. It does quite literally happen, when it happens.
He kidnapped young children,
Because cleaver boy hated meat.
He’d kill them with poison,
Then steal their arms, hands, legs and feet. On meat hooks they would sway,
And he’d watch as they decomposed.
He threw their heads away,
But kept their skins to make new clothes.
‘The Girl that always screams’
Shrieks and screeches are all she knows, They even deafened her deceased crows Cursed until the day she finds her love,
But its hopeless even when push comes to shove
Soon her wails grew deeper into despair Pining for love she thought, “This isn’t fair,” One day she found his sliced corpse buried nearby
And from that point on, she only screams “Why?!”
‘The boy with razor teeth’
There is a disturbing boy,
Who has sharp razors for teeth.
He uses fake ones as a decoy,
And kisses girls until they bleed.
HH : Who are the other artists that you look up to?
Madame Grotesque : There’s plenty of artists that I adore, they vary from Horror artists to Master painters. I think that above all John Kenn Mortensen (Who I found through yourself!), Edward Gorey (who I had never heard of until my ‘Creepy children’ series become more prominent and people often saw a resemblance between his work and my own), Rembrandt, Jenny Saville, Mark Gilbert (His ‘saving faces’ project in particular) and I’ve always had adoration for old school characters such as Ruby Gloom (before it became a tv show), Scary Miss Mary and Emily Strange. As of recent I’ve taken more interest in comics, such as Lenore (By Roman Dirge) and Johnny the homicidal maniac (by Jhonen Vasquez).
HH : Have you ever considered animated work?
Madame Grotesque : I have definitely considered it, but what with being an incredibly erratic worker, I don’t think it’s something I’ll heavily get into. Mainly because I’ve no idea how to go about it, but also there’s a great deal of patience that goes into animation and I simply don’t have it, as much as I want to. Though as I get older that could change, I’m only 20 so who knows. I see myself going into comics though. I’d love that.
HH : Do you have a favorite horror film?
Madame Grotesque : I think there’s going to be a lot of confusion over this considering the morbid nature of my work, but I’m a huge pansy when it comes to horrors (I think any person that reads this is now going to be like, ‘Whaaaaaa?!’) mainly because I’m very sensitive to sound and I’ve got an incredibly active imagination.
On the other hand if I had to pick one, I would say Sweeney Todd.
I know, it’s a Burton film, and I know that there’s plenty of controversy surrounding the topic of whether it’s even a horror film or not. However, it is generally considered a horror despite it not being all that scary. I just love the story, there’s so much emotion and combined with macabre, it makes the film such a pleasure to watch. I really like how such a gentle man basically turns completely insane because of pure emotional and mental torture. Even though it’s fictional, emotions like that are very real. Maybe not every person who seeks vengeance starts slitting everyone’s throats (though it wouldn’t shock me with todays world), but I think the film is a brilliant metaphor to portray those who do suffer mentally/emotionally until they get their revenge. I also like the fact that it’s set in the Victorian era, I find films that are set in earlier time periods naturally have a darker, more eerie atmosphere.
The world seemed to be a much more sinister place back then.
HH : What are your plans for the future with your artwork?
Madame Grotesque : There’s nothing solid currently, apart from the fact that I’m going to continue to build on the ‘Creepy children’ and ‘Monsters..’ series. I’m sure that there will be some more written work too. But I’m in the motions of getting a book together, as well as a comic series called, ‘The Tingling tales of Cleaver boy,’ who’s one of the more well liked characters from the ‘Creepy Children’ series. I might start working with writers who want to have their work illustrated, but as I said nothing set in stone. Just look out for more Creepy Children!
Big thanks to Madame Grotesque for chatting with me, and for sharing her dark visions with us all!
You can find more of her work at her official website, (where there is a huge sale going on right now!) and of course her wonderful Facebook page, which is often updated with new work.