Tuesday, 18th September 2018. 5:03:06pm ET
Interviews Ethereal An insight into the mind of the artist Raynard Stevens

Interview - Raynard Stevens - also known as Raypissed (vocalist)

Band - INVERTICRUX (Dark Gothic Metal) of Nashua, New Hampshire, USA

Interview Date - 8th August 2011

Interviewer – Phill Bruce

Artist Raynard Stevens

It’s rare that you meet people who are truly talented in everything they do, Raynard Stevens is one of those people.  He is the dark, angry voice of INVERTICRUX (see their band pages at the bottom of this article), is a very talented photographer, an actor, a tattoo artist who owns his own horror themed tattoo shop, and is an extremely talented artist in his own right.  When I saw Raynard’s art I was captivated, and when asked, he agreed to an interview and to allow Grave Concerns Ezine to showcase his art, so we jumped at the chance.  You'll want to know more about the man behind the art, so read on...

Phill – Hello Raynard, let me thank you very very much for allowing Grave Concerns this chance to show your art.  Will you please start by giving us a little into the man behind the art?

Raynard – Thanks for the chance to chat here Phil. Starting right off with the tough questions aye?! Ha! But really, I don’t know how to explain my reason for being. It may be that the man behind the art is a mere physical vessel to channel dark expressions from other worlds into our present reality. The man himself is a walking cadaver. A fleshy prison for an ancient unsatisfied soul. A tormented being. Tortured and haunted on a daily basis by an imperfect world he cannot change. Appearing seemingly happy at times on the surface but often at odds with myself and others around me. The dark art serves as a release of my inner turmoil. 

[ Editor: Click the the pics (below) to watch videos of Ray's band INVERTICRUX pull off a pair of impressive live performances. ]


Phill – With you having toured around Europe and America tattooing, can you tell me how you started in tattooing and how was it you came to tour?

Raynard – I began as a struggling artist. Trying to find a niche where i can earn cash doing what I love. Nothing unusual here. The course I took (or did it take me?) is what differs from others. Born and raised in the sister state of Jersey England known as New Jersey. Sadly nothing like the Jersey of old. But it is a lively area. Growing up in an historic amusement park town was fertile grounds for fledgling dark twisted inspirations such as mine. I had many average jobs as a kid. Getting kicked out of all of them in a short time frame. I knew I had to land a drawing career of some kind. So I tried my hand at glass etching. Classic cars at first. Little corner pocket windows in the back and front. Juke boxes, and 50's type shit. Then it was on to local newspaper political comics. I got in trouble a lot with m radical views. So that didn't last. Next stop, airbrush town! I find good work as an airbrush artist in the early nineties. Soon I was traveling the entire coast of N.J. from one beach side board walk to the next. Airbrushing all things that would soak it up. Mostly shirts, denims, and pants. But I did my share of car hoods, skate boards, and helmets. Opened my own airbrush shop for a time. But my dark side made it hard for me to make my shop look commercial and friendly enough to enter. So it ultimately failed. I lived with an artist at the time. Louis Small.  He drew for Vamperella comics at the time. He got me into the comic field for I time. I landed a few minor jobs but it is a labour of love and only the most highly respects in the comic field can hope to make a good living. There I met Myke Maldonado.  At a N.Y. comic convention. I was hired to airbrush his adult comics. He was drawing "Cherry" at the time. Sexy stuff! It was a break! Myke was also a well-known tattooist in N.Y. and N.J.. After a rocky start up at another tattoo shop , Myke was able to get me into the shop he was working for. Tattooing fit me like a black rubber glove and from there it was time to fly. It was harder to find good tattooist in the mid-nineties and I was a natural. So as a commodity in my own field I chose to travel where good artist were needed. Germany , Netherlands , Ireland , Scotland , and jolly old England! My second home. 

Phill – Your art is very dark. Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

Raynard – It all begins with an inner urge to perturb others who are not accustomed to seeing such morose sights. I really don’t draw for the horror lovers. They are expecting it. Very hard to disturb them though I have!  It is hard. My goal is to draw a reaction from people. A noticeable one if possible. My tattoo shop is my personal art gallery. Much of my own art work staining the walls. It is amusing for me to watch the onlookers meandering about the shop looking upon my art with very concerned looks on them. I have been shown in some smaller local galleries here and in Boston. I get a real thrill watching people at my art showings. It’s like they can’t get away from the horrors. Where ever they turn, something horrid is grinning back at them. The inspiration sometimes is unexplainable though. My art serves as a release valve for a build-up of dark energy. I seem to over produce it and it’s a good thing I have this form of release. Good thing for everybody around me.

Phill – Is there any artist that gave you the inspiration to start your art?

Raynard – Yeah, I guess it was a lot of the arcade game art at my home town arcade halls. Jim Henson’s Muppets were valuable to my early creativity development. But my drive really took off with the discovery of horror comic art. I hated the hero comics. But the horror shit was key. The vault of horror, tales from the crypt. Then the later shit with Bernie Writson always to be my all-time fave. Tim Vigil is my other art love. I would meet up with them at conventions and get art advice from them when they had time. Priceless! That was what seems like ages ago now. Now I don’t really follow anyone. Maybe some sorry ass is following me by now. 

Phill – What form of art do you prefer to produce?

Raynard – I enjoy many mediums but I am not that great at all of them. But I try. I really do like soft sculpture, and carving among the ones people know me less for. I once carved gargoyles for a store in Pa bordering N.J.. That’s all the sold. Gargoyle items and some angels just to be well rounded. Can’t alienate the goody goods now! That lasted a while but not much money in it. They closed long ago. I enjoy murals also. Many I have done for haunted house attractions on the east coast. Still do. Fun stuff. I drink heavily while painting massive horror scenes with little directions. I almost wish I could travel the country doing that alone. Pen & ink is my staple art form. What I may be most known for I suppose. Charcoal is unbearable. Don’t like the messy art so much.

Phill – Can you see your art evolving and if so how?

Raynard – It did go through a major evolution early on but I am pretty set in my style now. If the demand for the arts were greater among people maybe i would have to keep it more interesting to keep up with the demand. But as it is , people are far more willing to throw good money at uneducated numb skulls who throw balls around for millions of dollars (sports). How is that more important than the arts? A great shift in interests and attention among the people would have to  shift back to the arts for me to want to try harder. But I have excelled at water colour , markers , and that’s about it.

Phill – How would you define your artistic style?

Raynard – Gothic horror fantasy. Fantasy because it is an escape from reality. Sometimes an escape that makes you glad you can get back to reality. Until you’re dead. Then my world waits for many of you... 

Phill – How do you feel when others interpret your art differently to how you feel about the piece of art?

Raynard – Well I never got into  expressionism, my work is bizarre and unusual. But it is pretty cut and dry. It may be a scene you never imagined on your own. But you can make out what is happening in most cases. Many will agree on what the work means. Rarely do any see it as something it is not. But I am always open to another's interpretation. I always begin a drawing with an attempt to introduce an entirely original concept. If it is an overdone and burnt out idea I tend to steer clear of it. 

Phill – Your art, is it somehow part of your personality?

Raynard – It can be. Much of it deals with a struggle with my twisted sexual appetite. My sex drive is ravenous and it knows no limits of depravity. Though most of my actual sex life has been fairly normal. The deeper desires can never be met. Not in this world. So until I get to live my after life as a sex fiending demon, I will have to resort to sexual release through lurid art work, and socially acceptable sexual situations. Other than that, the demons I draw maybe sometimes be the way I see myself. But that’s it.



Phill – Is there any medium of art that you would like to try?

Raynard – I am sure I tried it already. If I don’t mess with it any longer, I may have decided it wasn't for me or I was no good at it. But I can’t think of anything I left without trying.

Phill – How did you come about starting your own horror themed tattoo shop?

Raynard – It had to be an extension of myself. Not many horror lovers among tattooist. Nor are many metal loving tattooists out in the world. I should know. I actually worked at more shops then i can recall. None of them liked metal. Always rock at best or some unspeakable garbage, like rap. At a tattoo shop? Fuck them! This trade deserves better! Sorry. I get compassionate easily. I wanted my shop to appear as a teen age metal heads bedroom. Posters , skulls , monsters , weapons! All cluttered up around you. People who have been getting inked at my shop always find new things on the walls they didn’t see the last time they were here. It is really a horror/metal theme. The decor is more heavy metal then horror really. The lobby is more horror. Real coffins and all manner of gothy gloomy decorations. We are below ground level with massive stones for walls so it appears as a tomb. Hence the name THE TATTOOMB. 

Phill – How long has your shop been going at the moment and have you had any memorable moments since you’ve had the shop open?

Raynard – Yeah it’s been going strong for nearly six years now. The economy is bad here for many fucked up reasons but we have somehow got around it. We have taken a cut in work but still doing well. Stores have closed down around us so we know we are doing something right but it still sucks to see your down town neighbours suffer. Yeah if the walls of this shop could talk i would be forced to sew its lips shut! Very incriminating shit took place here. Sometimes still does. If my customers knew the things that happened on the waiting room couch they would rather sit on the floor. HA! Hey, i clean up afterwards!   My band INVERTICRUX (formerly VintageFlesh), has its band practice twice a week in a make shift rehearsal space in the back. So much evil music has gone down in that room. It’s scary to be alone in it. I would never sleep in that room. The energy we release gets left in there. It is not happy.

Phill – What is your favourite subject matter for tattooing and also your art?

Raynard – Well between graphic art, tattooing, and the lyrics I write for the horror metal , the subject matter all runs from the same dark well. I love to make people question the religion they hold dear. As a nonbeliever I find it hard to understand why so many fights over gods that never step in to straighten the matter out. They are all wrong. My god doesn’t answer me because he simply doesn’t exist. If you hear your god answering you might want to have someone check you out. I sing of the spirit and its difficult journey through life and its even greater struggle with the afterlife. At least that will be my path to take so that’s what I sing of. Tortured souls. I can sing and write about such things all night. In Inverticrux, I try to write folklore that doesn't exist. Tales that seem old as time but i just made them up. Twilight zone type tales squeezed into 4 minutes or so of maniacal metal music. But mainly its horror across the board! 

Phill – What is it about graveyards that you like to photograph?

Raynard – It is not so much the photography that draws me to such places. That only acts as an excuse why I am in such places so often. I am an admitted Tafophile. One who is more comfortable among the dead in their resting places. It is a retreat. An outdoor art and history museum. Mostly unaltered by time or man. The sense of serenity I gain from such sacred locations is immeasurable. I have meditated for hours in such places. Even achieving outer body. You are not along in graveyards. Even when you think you are. I believe most graphic illustrators make natural photographers. We see entire scenes in our heads and are able to put such scenes to paper. Sometimes without reference material. So we should be able to capture a pre-existing scene through a lens pretty nicely and easily. So as a horror illustrator, what better scene then that of our old time New England bone yards? Only your European grave sites captivate me even more. 

Phill – How much of your tattooing work is custom designs?

Raynard – It may have been set at 85 percent at the early stage of my profession. But it has been 100% custom for many years now. Also nearly 100%  free hand as well. Which is to say , I draw almost everything directly on the skin with a sterile body marker. They o.k. it in the mirror or not, and we begin etching. I prefer to draw directly to the skin mainly because it enables me to draw more flowingly to the contours of each individual. Allowing the art to sit better where it is intended.

Phill – Have you ever taken on any apprentices in your tattoo shop?

Raynard – Never have. Probably never will. Never in my time as a tattooist. There seems to be no dedication anymore. No one willing to put in the time and expense. They all want it now now now. Well how about never never never? They aren't doing me any favours. In fact in the long run they only take business away from you when they run off and open a shop down the road from you. Yeah thanks but no thanks. This industry is overwhelmed with too many tattoo artists and many of them have no right doing what they are doing. Screwing people up who don’t know better. But that brings more work my way when we have to fix it up so I shouldn’t complain too much. I just wish the customer would go to the right shops in the first place. Through better research they would. Still, many do the needed research and get the better work at a better price. 

Phill – You are in a band, what instrument do you play?

Raynard – I have bounced around from drums to vocals to both. I started as a drummer on other guy’s musical projects. As I became more involved with the scene, I was able to round up my own mates to proport my own brand of gothic metal mayhem in Vintage Flesh and now Inverticrux. I drum on the second V.F. release,  "Hour of the Night Gaunts," as well as sing and write lyrics.  I recently wrote lyrics and sang for the much anticipated latest release of Mystic Forest of France. Better known as Eiken Skaden, to some. With the 1st Inverticrux full length EP, I will sing , write lyrics, and I managed to squeeze a little harmonica part in the opening track. It goes over surprisingly well live. One time I hit someone in the audience with my harmonica after a solo with it!  He was pretty good about it and gave it back.  Must have liked it.

Phill – You have illustrated some album/cd covers, who have you done this for?

Raynard – Oh too many bands now. All underground acts worldwide. The internet is an amazing thing that way. Widely unheard of acts like Kratornas, Marbel Bog, Drunken Bastards, and others. All well loved and respected but steeped deeply in the underground metal community.  Very happily so. The bands I draw fair do not care for fame and success. They are true to the art of music and suffering. Same here. I continue to draw for book covers, magazine articles, bands, and independent movies. Where ever I can spread the filth of my style. 

Phill – Have you ever been inspired by your own music to do a piece of art?

Raynard – Hmmmm, neat question. No , not really. I hope it inspires other artists to do so though. However, I have drawn all our album covers and will continue to do so. The covers themselves reflect the feeling of the songs on the albums as a whole. The next album cover for our first INVERTICRUX album will be based on one song. "Cult Crashers".  Instead of crashing parties we are not invited to, we crash all religions. 

Phill – Who is your favourite author?

Raynard – As an illustrator I guess I have focused more on other artists and not so many Authors. Though I do respect many, I don’t read as many. Of course my few favourites are New England born. Hawthorn, Lovecraft, Poe. The usual suspects. But I have visited all of Poe's homes along the East coast. I have visited the graves all three Authors and others. I have walked in the footsteps of H.P Lovecraft all through Providence, Rhode Island. So I don’t follow many but talk the talk and walk the walk for those that I do.

Phill – Who is your favourite artist and what is your favourite piece of art by them?

Raynard – I am more into other musical artists then other graphic artists. As I mentioned I love Bernie Writson and Tim Vigil. Others came and go from my mind. But the musicians i admire are too many to mention. Much of my love for music revolves around Alice Cooper. I am far from alone in the belief that Alice is the centre of the dark music universe. Through him came Goth,Punk,Glam,and Metal. He didn’t set out to invent them. He just came at music with such an unorthodox approach to rock , that it exploded into so many other things later. You can trace every genre i mentioned back to something he did either musically or theatrically. All else comes second to me. I worship Alice the way other men worship false gods. At least Alice is real. 

Phill – Who is on your mp3 player/iPod at the moment?

Raynard – Sorry Phill, such forms of technology has not made it into my way of life. It took me long enough to go from vinyl to c.d.'s. I can’t make the cross over into iPods for some reason. I see the benefits. But i prefer to live in the past in many ways. But i can still tell you what i have been listening to lately. A lot of stuff from Heavy Artillery records has excited my senses lately. They nurture a real return to eighties metal song structure and character. I enjoy the return to cult rock proto metal like Devils Blood , WitchCraft, , Ghost , Blood Ceremony and others. We consider our band INVERTICRUX  to be very much along those lines musically. But with a tinge of black metal for some extra bite! I would like people to rediscover a wondrous old eighties metal act called Halloween. Not Helloween. Halloween is from Detroit Michigan. They are horror metal at its finest! They are still active but far too underappreciated. 

Phill – What is your true inspiration in life at the moment?

Raynard – It must be to create as much horror pulp to outlive my mortal form. My art is my offspring. I have no kids and never will. I love my unborn children too much to bring them into this shithole. I love this planet too much to burden it with my unimportant children. No, my music and art can out live any child I can bring into the world. I believe my work will go on in some form or other as long as life for man goes on in some similar way to today’s life. My ancient cultures interest me immensely. I feel many in America who share my own European descent should obligate themselves to rediscover the illustrious roots we come from by visiting whatever parts of Europe they originated from. We have lost that connection here as the original founders of the modern Americas. I am for ever inspired by the spirit realm and its constant influence on my approach to life as simply a preparation for the land of the dead. 

Phill – What’s your favourite place in this glorious world of ours?

Raynard – As far as my home country goes, only New England feels like home. Outside this country, only greater Europe owns my heart. I don’t care for any other nations. Only the lands they sit on are of worth to me as an environmentalist. Nothing else resonates with me nearly as much as Europe and rightfully so. It is after all the lands that spawned most of the greatest minds that the world has ever known. The lands of Europe are alive with enchantment. Though this allure is under appreciated and at risk of being lost.  I would like to see indigenous Europeans take a greater pride in the cultures they have spawned and take greater steps in sustaining them for the future generations of French, German, English, Irish, citizens and so on to enjoy.  What you have is so precious to who we are as people, and so fragile.  It is where Gothic was born.

Phill – Thank you for giving Grave Concerns the chance to showcase your art and also giving us this interview, is there anything you would like to add?

Raynard – The honour is all mine. Grave Concerns Ezine will always have my support. Nothing left for this jaded old bastard to say but fare thee well my fellow friends who walk with me along the dark path. Your rich rewards are soon to come. Steer into the darkness and avoid the light...

[Editor: You can check out Ray's band INVERTICRUX's band pages on...

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LetsGetInverted

ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/Inverticrux

....and give us your opinions in the comments section below. ]


Radio Grave Concerns Ezine

Listen now!

Keep GC strong !

Maintaining Grave Concerns Ezine takes time and money.
To help, you can donate one time:

Or, help with a monthly gift:

Grave Concerns Ezine Grave Concerns Ezine

Who's Online

We have 51 guests online


Podcast Feed

Free Downloads