If you’re on Twitter and love horror, there’s a high chance you’re familiar with the works of Trevor Henderson, a digital artist who’s been making waves with his inspired, grotesque bits of faux found footage art that contrasts photos of seemingly natural locations with horrifying beasts and otherworldly scenarios. It’s fresh, it’s weird, and it’s constantly fascinating—the sort of art that makes me want, no, need to pick the brain of the artist. So, I got in touch with Trevor to ask him about the appeal of found footage, creating strange monsters, and what’s next for him and his work.
I've seen a lot of horror art in my time, but your work is the first I've seen that consistently takes the form of faux found footage. What is it that draws you to found footage?
Trevor Henderson: I've always loved found footage horror films because they've always felt slightly more intimate than other horror films, like it's the slightest bit easier for your brain to believe what's on screen is really happening. It draws you just a tiny bit further into the action on screen as a participant, not just an observer. Also, found footage films get away with showing a lot less of the monster, which I always appreciate, because that makes it easier for me to use my imagination and scare myself. In terms of why I draw found footage images, I really like the grainy aesthetics, and I like playing with light and shadow and figuring out how much to show of the creature. Also, how to set up the composition, like it's a film frame!
An overwhelming majority of your works feature weird, distinct monsters that evoke something between an urban legend and Junji Ito-esque grotesqueries, and it's clear that you really do love these creatures. What's the appeal of the monstrous to you?
Trevor Henderson: I try to avoid any easy, go-to characteristics that I typically see in creature or monster design, like sharp teeth, angry brows, claws. That stuff doesn't really scare me when I see it used, so I try and aim for the uncanny, with slightly off proportions, surreal features, things like that. I love the idea of monsters that are not inherently hostile killers, but might be docile or even intelligent and friendly, but are just so alien to us as human beings that they can cause physical or mental harm. In turn, it makes them much easier to empathize with as a misfit or "other" that's just different. It's up to the viewer to decide their intentions.
Of all the monsters out there in genre fiction, which ones would you say have had the biggest impact on you and your view of them?
Trevor Henderson: When I was a kid, it was definitely the Xenomorph from Alien and the creature from Creature from the Black Lagoon. Both of them are amazing designs to this day, and the creature is notable in my eyes as a misunderstood victim to a degree. Also, the creatures in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and, as you mentioned earlier, the works of Junji Ito, especially Uzumaki!
While your pieces are often found footage, you're pretty diverse in your selection of styles to mimic, from old VHS tapes to grainy iPhone pictures to X-ray scans. How do you choose what creature is appropriate for what form of found footage?
Trevor Henderson: I usually decide on an environment or medium I want to try my hand at reproducing as faithfully as possible, and then create the monster last to suit the space I want to draw it in. I try not to think too much about it before I start drawing the environment, and often will restart the actual creature a few times before I get it right. Then, I make up the little story I want to accompany the image at the very end.
Is there any type of found footage you haven't worked with yet that you'd like to take a stab at?
Trevor Henderson: Yeah! I want to work with the format of stills from YouTube or other streaming sites, Facebook, and iPhone text conversations, as well as try to get better at making GIFs!
On a similar note, recently you've been releasing some of your works as T-shirts and stickers. Do you currently have any plans to branch out into other ways of distributing physical versions of your art?
Trevor Henderson: I'm currently putting together a selection of the found footage images for an eventual book release and exploring the different options I have in how to make and distribute it. Hopefully that will be happening closer to October!
And finally, what are some of your favorite found footage movies?
Trevor Henderson: The first I ever watched was the original Blair Witch Project, which scared me to death. Some of my absolute favorites are REC and its sequel, REC 2, Lake Mungo, the BBC Halloween TV special Ghostwatch, Noroi: The Curse, which just hit the streaming service Shudder not too long ago, and Grave Encounters!
To learn more about Trevor Henderson and his artwork, visit:
Credit: Artwork above is from Trevor Henderson's Facebook page.
Artwork from Trevor Henderson: