Chet Zar is an American artist notable for his dark visual art, make-up effects, and digital animation. He is known for his work with Tool’s music and live videos and was a concept artist for HELLBOY 2 (The Chamberlain, Cathedral Head) and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (creature designer)
The following is a transcript of an online interview conducted by DelToroFilms.com.
Hi Chet – this is Parker. Ready when you are!
ok im here. fire when ready
I got on your website today and one of the things I loved that you said in your bio was that your parents were always very supportive of you and your artwork . When you were a kid, what kind of art did you find yourself doing?
Monsters, hot rods, motorcycles, army guys killing each other…the usual boy stuff. But the one constant was the monsters.
Yep – I have two boys at home (5-7) that’s what they draw almost 100%
its a guy thing
It is! I have friends with daughters and the drawings on their fridges are completely different. Why is that?
I think there is a definite inherent difference between boys and girls. I think it’s genetic rather than cultural, although that probably plays into it at some point. I think most parents would agree..
Not that its always that way, but most of the time, I think.
I did the same thing – I still remember drawing this triangle monster with gills and one eye. I could still draw it today.
that’s cool! I used to draw my Aurora monster model kits as well as zombies and every other monster I knew about. Could not get enough of it!
This an accurate representation of my 5 year old triangle monster with gills
Wonder where it came from?
I think monsters are FUN – and I’m sure that is a big part of why you do it right?
For sure. That is why I paint as well. It’s fun. And that’s also why I paint monsters almost exclusively.
So your stepfather, artist James Zar earlier – at one point did he start pulling you aside and guiding your craft?
No, not really. He felt like when it came to art, a hands off approach was better. He was very wary of stifling my creativity in any way. But he answered any questions I would have. And I think you get a lot just from being around it all the time. His studio was in our home so I was surrounded by art and painting 24/7.
Come to think of it, he did help me paint my first oil painting when I was 9 or 10.
I can’t find it online but I think it’s in my book.
when did you start watching horror movies? Do you remember your first?
No, I don’t remember my first. Seemed like they were always on TV, which is where I saw most of them. I guess my first significant horror film was Night of the Living Dead- the original from 1968. I was very young and i found it kind of terrifying.
But I also loved it!
Did you start drawing zombies?
Yep. Standing next to an open grave! I also used to sit in the living room in my underwear drawing all the bones of my body ON my body in ballpoint pen. I was really young then.
Do you remember seeing a particular monster movie and thinking – “I. want. to. make. that!”
That wasn’t until I got older….probably around 12 years old. It was Dawn of the Dead and The Howling that made me actually want to create monsters and makeup effects.
Do you still do that – or are you semi-retired?
I still do it on rare occasions, if it’s a cool project or director. I would do anything for Guillermo in a heartbeat. He is fun to work with and you don’t have to worry about the film coming out poorly. It’s painful to put so much hard work into making something cool and then have the film suck.
Yeah. I sculpted and painted the Right Hand of Doom, and did some other sculpting and painting. I painted all of his horns and did some detail sculpting on his body for the shirtless scene
You created the HAND? An honor!
Yeah, it was an honor!
the craziest part was…
that I was always really good at sculpting concrete, stone, cracks, etc. But I am pretty sure Guillermo had never seen any of that work I had done…but he chose me to sculpt the arm. I don’t know why he asked me cuz as far as he was concerned, i was an ‘organic flesh’ type of sculptor.
I always wonder why he chose me to do that arm….
that’s interesting – how did you get the HELLBOY gig?
I’m assuming that is your first Guillermo work (but maybe not)
I was on staff at Rick Baker’s shop and I think Matt Rose brought that show in.
Another weird thing…
The next shop I went to was Spectral Motion and they got Hellboy II while I was there. Kind of a crazy coincidence for me.
it was meant to be!
Seemed like it!
Yeah, people say that a lot. That was the idea. Guillermo told me to make whatever I wanted as long as it was a mechanical mask that blended off onto and did not cover the actor’s (Doug Jones) mouth.
Did Guillermo give you carte blanche to design a cast of characters
Yep, pretty much carte blanche. And he didn’t make me change it from my original maquette so that was really rare for me
That’s cool – he gave you a lot of freedom then. we have a lot of artists eager at DELTOROCON to participate – there is some real loyalty in his cast and crew – what is it like to work with Guillermo?
It great! It’s the best case scenario. He allows you freedom to do what you do best. He knows what he wants and what he likes but he’s not a micro manager. He’s got great energy and always full of great ideas. I always say that if there were more directors like him I probably would not have left the industry when I did.
We could see you again on a GDT movie right? You worked on DON’T BE AFRAID – did Guillermo reach out to you specifically, or another coincidence?
I think he asked me to work on it- which I gladly did. I would pretty much drop what I was doing and work on any of his projects.
Of course – you did the HAND – that’s like a golden ticket
Chet – thanks so much for taking the time to talk! It was a pleasure!