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HORROR HANDMADES: 13 QUESTIONS WITH “MOTHER OF MONSTERS”

Monday, March 19, 2018 | Interviews

BY ROCCO THOMPSON

An entirely self-taught artist living and working in Sterling, Colorado, TAM MAGGARD sculpts creatures so cute you could just scream! Specializing in the weird and wonderful, her abominable babies are in high demand all over the globe. This is no surprise, as each piece practically radiates from within the joy and wonderment of a true classic horror fan. Newborn werewolves, canned mermaids, and squeal-worthy mutants are the denizens of Maggard’s mirthfully macabre little handcrafted world, and all are realized with cleverness, superior craftsmanship, and an astonishing attention to detail. Below she tells us which movie made her a lifelong lycanthrope devotee, what’s on her bookshelf, and a little bit about how she comes up with ideas for her hair-raisingly whimsical creations!

 What first drew you to Horror? 
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like horror! I have always been a fan of the classic Universal monster movies. FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLF MAN are my favorites! 

 Was there a moment when you realized you could combine your love of Horror with your love of Art?
When I was a kid, I saw THE HOWLING 3: THE MARSUPIALS.  I loved everything about it, especially the baby werewolf!  I tore apart a doll and a teddy bear and tried to fuse them to make my own, but obviously it didn’t work. I’ve been trying to perfect my baby monsters ever since!

 What is your preferred medium?
I love to work with clay of any kind. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as taking an idea and giving it a three-dimensional form.

Which piece are you most proud of?
I am proudest of my “Squid Baby.”  She was the first of my monster children that sold, and it all kind of exploded from there!  I made “normal” baby dolls and teddy-bears for years while crafting my little abominations on the side.  When I transitioned into making the type of art that I love exclusively, my skills improved as well!  I went from mediocre, run-of-the-mill doll maker to the Mother of Monsters I am today.

What has been your greatest challenge as a maker?
My greatest challenge is keeping on task. I always have several projects in process at the same time.  Too many ideas and not enough hours in the day!

Can you describe your art style in three words?
Strange. Cute. Weird.

Who is your Horror muse?
Clive Barker, hands down. HELLRAISER! NIGHTBREED! Perfection! The images he creates are so elegant and beautiful in a dark and twisted way, and he is able to pull you into a world that is fantastical, yet absolutely believable. His characters just have such depth. Barker has a way of making you empathize with the “bad guy,” or at least making you understand where he/she is coming from.

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
I’m always looking for inspiration.  Plants, animals, colors…anything can spark creativity!  I keep several sketchbooks of possible designs and once I get hooked on an idea, my brain won’t quiet down until I can get a good start on it.  Even though I have a hard time finishing projects, taking my time also allows them to evolve, sometimes into something completely different and better than my original concept!

When you’re not creating, how do you like to spend your time?
I am always creating, even in my spare time.  If I’m not sculpting, I like to paint. I really only paint for my own enjoyment, but I do give a lot of them away.  I also enjoy reading.  I’ll read anything I can get my hands on!

What are you reading currently?
Just like my projects, I like to have several books going at once. My favorite right now is AMERICAN GODS. Neil Gaiman is a bit like Clive Barker, and this novel is just amazing! Really dark, with lots of great characters.  I can’t wait to start watching the Showtime series, but I always have to read the book before I see the adaptation.

What’s the best Horror flick you recently watched?
It’s a bit older, but I love DOG SOLDIERS. I usually watch it a couple of times a year. Clearly, I have a serious soft spot for werewolves!   

What draws you to werewolves?
I’ve never really thought about it! Maybe they intrigue me because they can go from a rational human being to a badass rampaging psycho beast in a heartbeat. Maybe I’m drawn to that absolute loss of control…the freedom from being human for a night. I wouldn’t say I relate to them, exactly, but it would be great to run around raising hell once in a while! Of course, there’s the mysterious tie to the moon, (which is beautiful in its own right) and I just love the way they howl: I find it both haunting and sad.

The first “scary” movie I saw was AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON when I was about eight or nine, and it both scarred me for life and tattooed a love of them onto my soul. It could be all or none of those reasons, but I do know for certain that I have NEVER seen a bad werewolf movie! Even the cheesiest ones are still great.

What’s the one thing you hope people take away from your art?
I hope makes people smile and get a little creeped out! I want to make the world a little stranger with each piece I create!

Keep up with Tam here:
@tam_maggard

Buy her stuff:
etsy.com/shop/motherofmonsters

Rocco Thompson
Rue Morgue's Online Managing Editor, Rocco is a Rondo-nominated writer and avid devotee of all things weird and outrageous.