An artist comes in many forms… Some can craft words into impactful stories and songs. Some can take colors and make a new world of beauty, terror and so much beyond your wild dreams.
For Mark Phillips, he is a man who has taken his love of horror and an ancient talent of a blacksmith to create replicas, recreations and new nightmares of some of the most iconic tools of the trade in horror. We return to “The Night Market” and continue our talk with “Nightmares Unlimited” infamous Dr. Frankenstein and artist Mark Phillips…
Terror Time / Jay Kay: With unique expression with in art and a niche art form like this, you have found your home primarily in the horror/film conventions and expos. Talk about moving into the conventions scene and the growing you have had to do, the learning and success you have had?
Mark Phillips: In 2005 I worked with my first convention. Now defunct, I had a horrible experience and was completely discouraged. The next year, with coaxing from my friends to give it another try, I had one of the best convention experiences of my career. It was a game changer and I was hooked. It was a completely different experience. I am a firm believer in going out and meeting people and letting them see your art up close. Pick it up. And try it on. Pictures can only do so much, but to wear a glove or pick up one of our props, is a totally different experience. Your customers and fans appreciate that aspect of our convention appearances. It has opened up many doors for me, such as licensing and landing movie work. So, I would encourage all artists, to not let one bad experience dictate what to expect, because you never know what great opportunities could be waiting for you.
TT: Take us through where you get the material from and what your workshop looks like?
MP: I have regular suppliers for my replica work. Internet, hardware stores, etc. But for my original work, the best way I can described it is my girlfriend Julie and I look like the horror version of the History Channel show “American Pickers!” We often frequent garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores looking for unique and interesting materials to incorporate into our original art.
TT: How much has it changed since your first creation?
MP: The workshop started out in one room, but as I’ve added different props to our lineup, the workshop expanded. It is now several rooms; metal shop, wood shop, sculpting and casting studio, paint room, and even a designated area for photographing finished product. Presentation is so important as a vendor and artist.
TT: With it being a central focus, how much have you learned about the presentation of these pieces and vending at shows?
MP: I feel that presentation can make or break you. My girlfriend says eye appeal/buy appeal. Before I ever did my first convention, I had two professional cases made; one for gloves, one for spheres that I still use to this day. In a room full of artists and vendors, you have to standout. That’s why I made the world’s largest Freddy glove. I’m also building a four foot light up Re-Animator syringe for future shows.
TT: Like each horror franchise, does each conventions and each city have a different business and presentation plan?
MP: As far as presentation goes, it’s important to always look your best no matter what the venue. On the business planning side of it, I feel it’s important to match product with attending celebrities to increase your profitability, but having a wide variety of different products covers all of your bases.
TT: How has the aspect of licensing the design these iconic weapons apart been like?
MP: The design of these replicas has always been about doing homework. Screen grabs, measuring each piece, tracking down FX artists, and of course getting as much information from prop owners as I can. A prop, such as the Re-Animator syringe, is just a syringe, so I built an entire display around it and added UV lights to punch up the WOW factor. What has been the most challenging license to acquire? Our first license was the “Re-Animator” license. Brian Yuzna was extremely helpful and easy to work with. My friend Ben Scrivens, owner of Fright-Rags magazine, helped set up our first correspondence. It is much easier to work with licenses that are privately owned, than those owned by giant corporations. Honestly, you need a lot of money to go after them. We are a small business. Licensing will help us grow. My Moby Dick is the Phantasm franchise. I love the series and would love to provide fully licensed sentinel spheres from each movie.
TT: How do you handle safety when it comes to the construction of the creation and also talking safety to the customer when they purchased your creations?
MP: When constructing these weapons, safety is always on my mind; my own, and of course the safety of our customers. I have worked enough factory and construction jobs to know and witness the dangers of not taking the proper precautions while in a shop environment. I always wear eye protection, but ear plugs, respirators, and work gloves are the norm depending on the task. Our customers are always caution to the fact that these are not toys, not for children. We tell them to keep the pokey ends away from themselves and others. We take care to dull the edges, but they are real metal. I have had several customers ask me to sharpen blades for them and the answer is always the same: No. I’m sorry, but we cannot do that. It is one of the things that separates a prop from a weapon. We can make safe versions for children and have.
TT: How do you measure out each piece? Do you use your own hand for the glove specs?
MP: Believe it or not, I use a lot of algebra and geometry to figure out length and proportions. It’s funny when you hear your kids say, “When am I ever going to use this?” I’m a parent that can say, I use this stuff almost every day! If you can get one accurate measurement, you can figure out the rest. I do. When I met Robert Englund many years ago, I noticed that the gloves I built fit him very well. We have similar sized hands. So, I build the gloves to fit my average hand and give room for a little play. I have on several occasions, custom built gloves for very small to very large hands. It doesn’t affect the price, and makes customers very happy.
TT: Where can we find more about “Nightmares Unlimited”? How do we shop and where will you be next?
MP: Although we are currently finishing up our website, the best way to learn more about us is by liking our Facebook page. Ordering is as easy as contacting us through www.facebook.com/NightmaresUnlimited, emailing me direct at email@example.com, or calling us at 315-771- 7373. We are very quick to get back to you and even offer payment plans for some of our bigger ticket items. Our next shows are “Monster Mania”, Cherry Hill in August, “HorrorHound Weekend”, Indianapolis in September, and “Monster Mania”, Hunt Valley in October.
Terror Time / Jay Kay: Thank you so much for taking the time my friend and I look forward to the mad scientist designs of our favorite horror weapons
Mike Phillips: Thank you!
You can follow Jay @HorrorHappensRS