20 questions with Monty Borror
1. Where did you grow up?
On a farm in southern Virginia. Very close to the North Carolina border. My parents moved my sister and me to Raleigh when I was nine or ten. We did some more moving around after that but eventually settled in Charlotte permanently. I consider that my hometown
2. That’s a lot of time in the Bible belt. What kind of effect do you think that had on you?
The opposite of what was intended, I’m sure.
3. Were you drawing as a little kid?
The quick answer would be: My mother has graffiti in her uterus.
4. What brought you to Colorado?
I didn’t so much move to Colorado as move away from Seattle. I was basically getting nothing done there. Just wasting time really. I was always drawing but nothing was really coming from it. I was kind of stuck in that typical artist ego trap of thinking you’re brilliant and no one else can see it because they are so beneath you. The truth of the situation is that the artist becomes a lazy imbecile and expects the world to come to them. That was me.
5. So what changed when you moved to Colorado?
Nothing but my cruddy attitude. and that was all that was necessary. I started doing better immediately. Some of it had to do with the opportunity I had teaching art classes. Generally one’s students become one’s best following. But I think I started taking more responsibility for myself then as well. Instead of wondering why the world wasn’t “letting” me do what I want to do I allowed myself to take on the task of making myself more professional. and actually investing my money in myself was a big help. I know so many artists, many of whom have actual talent but they romanticize this rags to riches story to such a degree they can’t see the sensibility of spending their own money to promote themselves. I’ve learned that if you don’t value your own art no one else will.
6. Did you get shows and work quickly?
Pretty much. There was a gallery here called axis Mundi that showed interest in the first few months I lived here. I hung work there a few times made some sales and showed work at coffee houses in between. Then the restaurants I’ve done work for approached me for illustration and some design work. at the time I was making more money at art than I ever had before in my life. Forget that it was only a few hundred here and there. To me that was a fortune.
7. When did you meet your painting teacher?
My first year in Boulder. I had just been hired at the art store here and one day Bob Venosa walked in. To this day he has no idea that I knew who he was already from the Museum Morpheus web site. It was Bob who gave me my training in classical oil painting. One of the oldest techniques in the world. It was soon there after that I actually found my voice in art. I am convinced it was this painting technique that did this for me. I owe Bob and his partner Martina Hoffman every cent of what I make, metaphorically of course.
8. Do you consider yourself part of the fantastic realists then?
Yes and no. I enjoy it and love the roots it has in the surrealism works. My teachers and their teachers are all part of it. My work is a little more in the field of story telling though. It’s dark. I can’t argue that. It’s fantasy in more of the illustration realm than fine art.
9. Have you ever done a series of paintings or drawings?
Only on a very small scale. I did three paintings bases on the Ctuhulu Mythos by Lovecraft. Just sketches of some of his ideas. I like them but they’re too rough to exibit. I suppose you could say my charcoal portraits are an ongoing series. I’ve done eight of those so far. I think all but two of those are portraits of old Hollywood stars. Myrna Loy, Boris Karloff, Joan Crawford and a few others. I really like doing those. There’s a lot of detail that goes into those charcoals. More than enough to keep me interested.
10. If you had to pick one what would your favorite genre be for painting?
I would say horror or really far out fantasy. I think those are the two facets of art that require the most in translating the imagination into a readable image for the audience. They let an artist expand the possibilities of their own thoughts and forces them to paint those thoughts in a convincing manor. For me, I think that has integrity. I know that some people find horror childish and I really don’t mind because that’s not the only art I do. But I do get very exited when I meet another artist who appreciates it as well.
11. What’s your favorite word?
12. Name three movies you’ve loved in the past few years.
Donnie Darko. Way of the Gun. Waking Life.
13. Three books?
Blood Meridian by Corrmick McCarthy. American Scream, which is the biography of Bill Hicks. Time Out of Joint by Phillip K. Dick.
14. You’re obviously a fan of comic books. What comics have had the biggest influence on you?
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. That book shaped so much of what I still hold true. A lot of my own personal philosophies were shaped by that book when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I think that book shows so many people what is out in the world. How ugly it gets but how beautiful too. It was a fantastic introduction to a character with perfect integrity. I’ll of course buy anything drawn by Bernie Wrightson, and of course I’ll still pick up X-Men every now and then just to keep in touch. I was a freak for anything Batman when I was a kid. I think I liked that character so much because it showed a guy without any amazing powers being amazing in spite of it. I’ve been looking at Richard Corben’s work lately. I love how distinct his style of drafting is.
15. How important is music when you’re drawing or painting?
It’s everything. Music drives me like a train when I’m working. Entire albums go by with the speed of a single song. That’s how I’ve always pictured myself as a professional artist, sitting in front of my drafting table with fast and loud music filling the room. I would hate to think of being an artist as anything else.
16. How do you think an artist like yourself can be famous in the society we have today. I mean with the internet anyone can post their work and say they’re an artist. Or start a ‘zine to promote their own work.
I really don’t care about that sort of thing anymore. Who cares how you get famous? I think artists should just worry about how to get good. and what’s more, they should worry about it their entire lives. If they’re not constantly concerned with getting better then they’ll be the same their entire life. They create a ceiling for themselves that will never be breached. So get famous. Good advertising will do that. But the people who know will know it’s fake, and it’s the opinion of one’s peers that reflects most.
17. So how do you work into that picture?
If you’re asking what I expect from my art then I would have to say that I expect the work to be famous, not my face. It’s not so much Montgomery Borror doing well as the art itself doing well.
18. You’ve been working on a graphic novel for a while. Can you tell me about it?
The graphic novel is based on Inferno and it’s just a modern retelling of the story with modern characters. I’m over three quarters of the way through it but, luckily, I’ve been busy enough to put it on the back burner for a while. I’m not too concerned about it. It will be finished sometime this year. There’s a funny thing about taking your time like this though. I am so happy with the look of the book but if I go back and look at it from the beginning I see a few inconsistencies. Like the stuff I did a year ago is just a bit different in style from what was done last month. Unfortunately, no matter how much I may like them I will have to go back once I’ve finished and redraw those pages that are just a bit off.
19. Is that part of the pursuit of artistic perfection or just an anal retentive personality?
Well I hope it’s more philosophical than Freudian.
20. The final question is always the same one: What do you want to see happen most in the world in the next decade?
I want the people of the world to assume ultimate responsibility for themselves and stop blaming each other for their personal problems. I would like to see the majority of people acting with clear integrity. I would like for us all to stop being so terracentric and begin to look positively towards exploring what is beyond our own little dome of life. People are too proud of being well grounded and I think it hurts our intelligence as a race to not look up and be curious of what’s outside of the Earth. I don’t believe the aliens are coming to us. I don’t think they ever have. I think it is our responsibility to go to them. If we truly want to evolve we have to take on the burden of deciding our own fate.
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