Take it from 1000 Zombies: Google+ is no ghost town

Zombie artist finds Google+ a haven for one of the Internet's most immortal memes

zombie

Byron Rempel is a zombie artist - he draws zombies, as opposed to being one -- and he'll swear on any mother's grave that reports of the death of Google+ have been grotesquely exaggerated.

He's also drawn me as a zombie (right).

Rempel is the brains behind 1000 Zombies, a collection of his zombie portraits that is hosted on Google+ and commissioned by its users for as little as $10 apiece. With the addition of my undead likeness, 1000 Zombies now stands 931 zombies from completion. You can read the details, including how you, too, can be zombified, on the project's Google+ page.

Since stumbling across this growing horde some time back, I have been swapping e-mail with Rempel, a 37-year-old father of three who lives in a small town in the Canadian province of Manitoba. What follows is an edited account of our correspondence:  

Why Google+?

I'm sure you've heard many times that G+ is a ghost town, but don't believe it. Before I started interacting on G+ I couldn't even give my art away, but when I got the invite to join, I cautiously stuck my neck out and posted some art, drew a few G+ people as zombies ... and suddenly BOOM.

(PICTURES: The best of 1000 Zombies ... so far)

I've seen similar stories time and again from artists of all sorts: photographers, musicians, painters and writers. If you do it right it's easy to make G+ feel like one big caring community of like-minded people. ... I was on Facebook for nearly two years with barely any recognition, even though I shared a lot of work there, too. Now I use no other social network but Google+.

rempel

How'd you become so enamored of zombies that it has become the focus of your art?

Back in March of 2009 I was feeling a little out of sorts with my art, my style, my place, the whole she-bang. I was a trying all sorts of things to make a buck, or get noticed with my artwork, from online comics to art contests and posting in forums. Nothing was working.

It was then that I decided that I should start a blog as a way to encourage/force myself to draw. ... I wasn't sure what exactly I would draw so I started with a self-portrait that went a little wrong. I always explore the errors when I draw and this error turned out to make me look like a zombie, and that's where the idea of the daily zombie blog came from. The more I drew zombies the more I really enjoyed it and started seeing my art style fit in with the genre. And since my wife and I were big horror movie fans, it all sort of clicked.

Have you had any requests that you've declined for any reason?

I haven't had anything crazy yet. I have zombified a couple of pets as well as an 18-month-old, and I'm pretty much willing to do anything except hate, sexually explicit art ( at least for this project ) or anything that is just too stupid to print. Otherwise it's wide open. It's a funny feeling to get emails from people that fund themselves for the project with a message saying, "Go as gory as you want."

Do you pal around with zombie artists?

I know there are other zombie artists out there, one of my favorites being Rob Sacchetto. His blog was quite possibly the first zombie blog I found after starting my own. ... There's also Billy Tackett, who does a lot of zombie portraits and artwork. Christopher Zenga has a very stylized look to his art. I also met Arthur Suydam at a Comic-Con once, traded art prints with him. Really cool guy, very humble and probably the best in the biz imo.

As for being part of a community of zombie artists, though, no. Not really. I am part of the G+ community and I do my best to support other artists on there.

Just out of curiosity, what do your children think of Dad's work?

They're all about zombies ... and they draw them all the time, too.

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