Sean Maldjian is the mastermind behind the Instagram account @horror_meets_music. An art director and illustrator, for Maldjian, his art is inspired by his New Jersey roots, horror films, music, and a unique surfer style. I met with Sean along the West Harlem Piers for our shoot and interview.
Allison: Tell me a little bit about your background.
Sean: I'm from New Jersey. I'm from the shore, but not from the terrible part. It's a pretty coast town. I've always been doing art. I work in advertising design, so I'm kind of a sellout, but I still do my own stuff on the side. It evens out, I think. I have a big family: four siblings and my parents. The seven of us - it breeds a lot of creativity and we bounce weird ideas off of each other. Hobbies other than this? I like to surf, and I used to skateboard, but do so less nowadays.
Allison: What is your preferred medium as an artist?
Sean: I'm pretty lazy. I really like when I can just draw something and scan it in and manipulate it in Illustrator. I like the capability to blow it up to bigger sizes - you can do whatever you want with it, but if I'm not doing that, then I just like to use oil paint pens on any wood I can find on the streets. That kind of stuff appeals to me.
Allison: What fascinates you and inspires you to create?
Sean: Oh boy... I don't know - I see a lot of stuff. My work is inspired by movies or TV shows. I'm really into a lot of 60's - 70's horror movies, and then kind of mashing it together with that kinda cliche surf art that you see like Rick Griffin or Rat Fink... just really exaggerated forms and blending those two together to make something. It's hard to get someone to watch an entire scary movie, but you can show them a cool piece of art inspired by it, and they can take it in, and you can have that connection with them on that level.
Allison: So how did you start your Instagram account? What made you decide to start making drawings based on horror movies and music?
Sean: I remember I hadn't had a day off in three weeks; it just got really crazy at work. I kinda realized I wanted to make a picture, because I hadn't done that in awhile. I went on my Instagram and I hadn't posted anything in three years, so it lit a fire under me. I wanted to make stuff that I cared about again. I care about my work, but it's still just work, ya know? I'm not ever gonna be 100% devoted to it. I just started thinking... I really have always had a passion for movies, and I've always had a passion for music, and if I could just find a way to put to pen the weird kind of connections I see between the two of them, that could be really cool. The first one I drew was an alien and an old song from The Byrds, and I thought it was really funny. Whenever I'm watching movies or listening to music, I always try to put sound to one or put vision to the other. I was already doing that automatically.
Allison: What artists, either from your mediums or other mediums, inspire you?
Sean: Well I mentioned before Rick Griffin. He's huge. Robert Crumb... Johnny Ryan...Matt Furie is awesome. A lot of people that really use that cartoon-y style and a lot of colors. Throw John Carpenter in there because movies - he creates an awesome atmosphere.
Allison: Who were some of your mentors you met along the way?
Sean: My older siblings... my sister and my dad were huge - they always liked doing art, and I was always trying to hang out with them - there was a gateway into that. From there, a lot of kids did art in high school - there are a lot of people from my high school that do a similar kind of style... just from the shore. Martha Maynard who I went to school with and her boyfriend Taylor Ray... I remember drawing with them a lot in high school. That definitely solidified that same style. It was like an echo chamber almost. A lot of local people... aside from huge names, I never really seek out other artists to hang out with.
Allison: How did you develop your style?
Sean: A lot of trying to mimic what I saw on TV shows and almost re-drawing and creating depth to make a convincing image... what parts and features to exaggerate, a lot of that I take that from watching old cartoons. For really bizarre stuff, I'll watch old horror movies like Society or Suspiria, just to get weird ideas that I wouldn't have thought of and to just illustrate them.
Allison: What are your favorite and least favorite things about being an artist in New York City?
Sean: My favorite thing is that there are a lot of other people doing it and it feels like a good space where there are other people seeking out other artists to collaborate and all that. There's nothing really too bad about it. You kind of feel overwhelmed at times, which isn't always a problem - because then you get excited. Sometimes you feel like you're running into a wall and you don't know what to make. There's a lot of people making noise, and you don't know how you're gonna cut through, but everyone's all trying to do their own thing, so it doesn't really matter.
Allison: What advice do you have for artists hoping to move to New York City?
Sean: Just make something everyday. Honestly, that helped me so much. I don't think I would have been nearly as successful or would have had anything I would really be proud of if I wasn't constantly making stuff every day for a solid two months after I first started the account. It just forces you to stay on top of it. Keep that goal in mind. If you want to make a living doing this, you're going to have to do it very often. Don't ever think something's not good enough; just make it in a day and just post it.
Allison: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Sean: I liked what I said before - do something everyday. Doesn't even have to apply only to art. Do something everyday, and eventually you're gonna get good at it, and if you don't get good at it, at least you can say you did something you like everyday.
You can follow Sean on Instagram here.