Subtle Horror: The surreal artwork of Chemical Messiah is a psychedelic twilight zone
"I need to feel what I’m designing 100%"
Name: Joshua Dunlap
What is your tool of choice?
I use Photoshop exclusively.
Could you take us through your artistic process?
My process varies; sometimes I’ll sit down with a blank canvas & work through a piece in a couple of hours, other times I’ll go back to a piece over & over again for weeks to get it just right. To be honest I don’t prefer one over the other, unless there’s a deadline. I usually can feel when a piece is finished but not always, the ones that I just don’t feel don’t get released. Sometimes a piece is just garbage.
I always listen to music while i’m designing. If I’m doing an album cover I’ll listen to those tracks exclusively so that the emotions & vibe can be translated better visually. If I’m doing personal pieces I’m usually listening to my favorite bands like Glassjaw, Every Time I Die, or Deftones. I usually start with a feeling & ask the question, “What am I trying to convey & how can I best do that visually?” After that, I browse my saved source material or search google images for posters or vintage propaganda. From there, I try to craft what I’m feeling. I often go through multiple edits to get the pieces to be as simple but as effective as possible.
Your house is on fire, what is the first thing you grab?
Laptop & external hard drive for sure.
What are some challenges you face while you are working?
I need to feel what I’m designing 100%, sometimes that feeling wavers, that’s when I have to step away from a piece and put it on the back burner. I have an “in progress” folder with about 25 pieces at any given time. Often times I’ll go back over those pieces & say “What the fuck was I thinking?” Those pieces get deleted.
Who’s the bigger hometown hero, Carson Wentz or Allen Iverson?
AI for sure, but the flyers are my team so I’d nominate Hextall, Lindros, or, fuck it, even Gritty.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Two things I’ve learned that have really stuck with me: “Keep it simple” & “Less is more.”
What are some shows that you are watching?
I just finished season three of “dark” which was fucking amazing. I usually just throw “It’s Always Sunny…” on when i don’t know what to watch.
How have you spent your quarantine?
Playing PS4, helping my son with school, and working on as many pieces as I can.
Any big art projects you’re working on right now?
I just completed & released my art book, which is a complete collection of all my art from when I started in April 2019 to 2020. I also designed a couple of album covers that should be getting released soon.
Who are some of your inspirations?
I’m heavily influenced by philosophy and literature. Some of my biggest influences are Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, & Samuel Beckett. Visually, I’m influenced by Rene Magritte, Stanley Kubrick, & David Lynch.
We appreciate that your art work has an old school feel to it. What about that vibe drives you to create?
When I was little, probably up until I was 10, my Grandmom would watch my brother and me in the summer while my parents were at work. She was always watching shows and movies like Rear Window, Dial M For Murder, or The Twilight Zone. I was so enthralled by them. I always try to capture and convey that subtle horror in each piece.
Got any good pick up lines for our readers looking for love?
“Are you a Trump supporter?"
What piece are you most proud of?
My favorite piece varies from day to day to be honest. Usually It’s whatever piece i most recently completed, but a couple that always stick with me are “Got a Light?,” “Return To Our Natural State,” & “Empty Vessel.”
How would you make the world a better place?
Not to sound like an old man, and as ironic as it fucking is since I’m using instagram to help promote my art, but I would get rid of social media. It seems to be dividing us more and more and intensifying groups and causes that have a negative effect on society.
Shameless Plug: (Tell our readers where they might see your work and/or where they can purchase some of your stuff!)
Follow me on Instagram @chemicalmessiah. Buy some fucking merch chemicalmessiah.com