Oct 3, 2019

Halloween Web - Artist Scott M

Our first Halloween Web interview this year is an artist whose work you may have seen in your travels online. This may be the longest interview but I didn't want to edit anything out. Responses like this are the whole reason I do this.

Thanks for joining us today! Tell the folks a little about yourself.

My name is Scott Modrzynski, and I'm a graphic designer by trade, and an artist by passion. I've had a few noteworthy artistic endeavors, starting with Foogos in 2011. (I can't believe it's been 8 years already.) I began recreating hockey logos out of condiments, then various foods, then moved onto to other leagues, and even some portraits. Some of my work even made it into Sports Illustrated, coincidentally, the October 31, 2011 issue.

Since then, I put out a WWF-inspired infographic that went viral, as well as the similarly themed allxmen.com, which showcases every character to appear in every issue of the first volume of Uncanny X-Men. That kinda shows my OCD levels.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

So I've got two distinct Halloween experiences as a kid. I grew up in suburban Jersey, about 30 minutes outside NYC. My neighborhood was an awesome place to grow up. We could ride bikes forever without worry of cars speeding by, and no matter how old you were, there were at least two other kids also your age. Halloween was MASSIVE with the amount of trick-or-treaters. The rush to get home and wait for your mom to let you loose... my brothers and I were like dogs whining to be let outside. Because we had sidewalks – or because it was the 80s – I was able to run off with my friends without supervision when I was pretty young. Maybe 1st grade. The only rule was to be home for dinner.

If the big day fell on a weekend, I'd beg my mom to take us to my grandparents' house early in the day, so we could hit two neighborhoods. They lived only 10 minutes away, but it was a very urban area. You know, a lot of houses packed so close together you could pass a roll of toilet paper from your bathroom to the guy next door. Speeding cars and nowhere to park came with the territory, so it was a very different vibe from the get-go. It was an old Polish neighborhood, and my mom grew up there, so she knew a lot of people, and never let us go on those streets without her. It was always a good deal, though, because I'd come away with at least $10 every year I Halloweened there. Eventually, we'd head back home and make the candy rounds again in my neighborhood that night.

Cereal Freaks prints available here

What about a specific memory or story from Halloween?

Long after my trick-or-treating days ended, my dad told me that he'd answered the door in a gorilla mask one year, and scared the shit out of the kids coming for candy. I loved that idea, so I took a vacation day every Halloween for about five years to visit my parents and do the same thing. One year, I hid in the bushes next to our door, another year sat motionless on the porch until the right time to pounce. It really was a blast. I traumatized a few of them, and I was sure that I was about to get into a fight with some boy's dad waiting at the curb. I looked over at him, and not only was he NOT upset that I made his son cry, he was laughing with his friends as they filmed it on their iPhones. (By this point, my parents house had a reputation as the place to get a scare from the gorilla.) And now that I say it out loud, I sound like a horrible person, hahaha! "All this kid wanted was a Kit-Kat, and I gave him years of therapy."

Any favorite costumes?

My mom made most of my costumes from patterns she picked up at the Rag Shop. In pre-school, I was a blue Care Bear. The head was this giant pillow thing with a hole in its mouth for my face. It was embarrassing because a girl in my class was a pink Care Bear, so of course, all the parents had to make a big stink about us being a couple. What four-year-old wants to hear that? Most of my childhood was filled with self-inflicted traumatic like that. I was Bugs Bunny (another hot and heavy pillow head), Garfield (you guessed it, pillow head), a California Raisin.

I should have won the work Halloween costume contest for my Naked Dr. Doom ensemble, but the top prize (an iPad!) went to a woman who was "a cougar." She has a leopard print shirt that was definitely in her regular wardrobe rotation. Not that I'm bitter...

I notice a lot of my costume escapades aren't even on Halloween. I once went to work dressed in full Spider-Man get-up. Another time, I decided to dress like a zombie in the middle of summer. I convinced one of my brothers to join me. I've got the white shirt that says "I LIKE TURTLES". No idea who these people are, but there were a lot of free drinks from strangers who wanted to take a photo with the zombies. I've worn the gorilla costume plenty of times on random days, too, and have since added the Wolfman and Beetlejuice to that roster.

How do you celebrate today?

If there's a local Halloween themed bar night, or a work party, I make it a point to attend. The Halloween torch seems to be carried by kids from the 80s and 90s. I notice parents all with their kids in wagons now, and a couple years ago, my niece and her friend said they were tired after literally four houses. They didn't even complain when i stole their Reese's peanut butter cups. 

What do you do to get in the Halloween spirit?

I've settled in eastern Long Island, where its farms galore, so we go out every year for pumpkin picking. Its also the unofficial haunted house capital of the world, so I try to hit at least one of those a year. Darkside, Chamber of Horrors, Gateway Playhouse... there's a bunch out here.

I've got a playlist in my car of Halloween music, of which there is not enough. Mariah Carey made bank off that one Christmas song. Could you imagine if musicians went all-in on Halloween albums? Why hasn't this happened? (Preach!) There is no way in hell that if someone didn't put out a spooky track that sounded like Thriller or There's Someone Watching Me that it wouldn't make all the money. Just listen to Danny Elfman scores and add words!

Why do you think Halloween sticks with us as we get older?

It's the spirit of make-believe. People want to be scared if it's pretend. People want to be superheroes. People want to dress up and step out of their skin for a minute. I've noticed that whenever I've got a Halloween mask or even just grease paint, I feel I walk a little taller because I've got this extra level of "protection" form the world. Not that I'm a timid person, but I think most people feel a little more empowered.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Smarties or Necco
My favorite thing to get was Almond Joy (ah, so someone does actually like these!)
My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula, although I have to admit, Monster Cereal is more fun in concept and for the hunt than the actual taste

Where can folks find you online?

You can find my portfolio at mojoswork.com. I post a lot of new art and WIPs over at Facebook, and talk a lot of comic book (X-Men) garbage on Twitter. I'm also on Instagram, but I rarely use it, because I'm the only person under 50 without a smartphone and its a whole rigamarole to upload content without one.

Thanks to Scott for stopping by today!

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

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