As a young man, I was fascinated with folklore of the Phoenix. This mythological bird is said to obtain new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. I believe that strength comes from burying the old, allowing the self to persevere with greater wisdom and craft. This is precisely the state of the Mad Creator.
For the past few years I’ve been on a pilgrimage. I may not have been searching, but nonetheless I discovered myself, not just as an identity, but also artistically and spiritually. This started with a cross-country road trip with my wife (then girlfriend) to meet my family in my home state of Nebraska. I have not taken the journey through the heartland since my travels moving to Los Angeles back in 1998. For years following, I would travel from city to city by plane, never experiencing the back roads, the communities, and the people in-between. This trip with my wife brought awareness to a structure of America that I had forgotten, the pulse of the people that make up the nervous system of our vast country. I rediscovered my roots and found a part of myself that I had turned my back on. I came home from this odyssey a changed man, unable to return to who I once was, and incapable of finding peace in the world I exist; I became homesick with an insatiable need to be healed.
From this fever, I became fascinated with Naturalism and Regionalism. While finding new interests in painters like Norman Rockwell, Grant Wood, Charles M Russell, and Andrew Wyeth, I explored new styles in realism with my own art. Although I do not find honesty with myself painting solely realistic, these exercises became crucial in the development of my rebirth. The artist I am evolving to be has taken these lessons and applied them to my gothic-whimsical sensibilities.
Another critical moment was the day my son was born. This only strengthened the lineage to my own father and my upbringing. I was reintroduced to childhood books and illustrators that I had no idea influenced me as much as they did, like Mercer Mayer, Holly Hobbie, and Richard Scarry. These involuntary influences have seeded my subconscious and can be identified in my work by the scrupulous eye, but having been brought to my attention, will come to full fruition in the works to come. While raising a toddler, I’ve gained a critical eye toward my work and the classics that I have an affinity for. I apprehend in my previous work that I was targeting an older audience. I was making children’s books for adults who like children’s books. With my son growing daily by my side, it is a constant gauge of innocence; I witness his imagination, his weaknesses, and his fears. He is an inspiration for me to make books for him and children alike.
These are drastic transformations for any individual to endure. But I anticipate this change with faith and confidence and look forward to the journey. We all have paths plotted out that lead to our graves, and our guts tell us when we stray. Throughout my pilgrimage, through challenges and tribulations, it has always felt natural. While there are things surfacing and new visions coming to light, I am still Gris Grimly. Foremost, I am a fan of monsters, horror movies and Halloween. The Macabre is as much a part of me as my rural upbringing. In conclusion, this honest revival will beget more authentic and innocent results.
This metamorphosis called for an equally transcendental change to my website. I’ve wanted to update my antiquated site for years, with something that is more user-friendly and present. When I originally launched my site, it was congruent with other flash sites of the time. But that was a decade ago and flash sites are surely becoming obsolete. With the help of Graphic Designer Damion Wagner, this new site was created to meet current standards; it is easy to update, it is representative of who I am today, and it will work on all technological formats. That means, finally, my store will be smart phone compatible. I’ve acquired the URL grisgrimly.com, which is long overdue, so now you can access my site through the obvious as well as madcreator.com. I’m more than thrilled with how it turned out as we move forward into a new era.
“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”