Artist creates a place where Halloween lasts forever

Growing up in a household where both parents were artists exposed William Basso to all types of art from a very young age. Combining equal amounts of horror movie magazines and comic books with Renaissance or Eastern European art, for example, helped to shape William’s artistic sensibilities.

After graduating from the Parsons School of Design in New York where he received a BFA in illustration, William became interested in special effects for the film industry and eventually relocated from New Jersey to Glendale, California. He has contributed his artistry to many well known films. Edward Scissorhands, Terminator 2, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park and Interview with the Vampire among them. For the past several years, William has been focused on developing his personal artistic vision, creating mixed media works as well as taking on freelance projects. His award winning work has been exhibited in a number of galleries as well as being featured in SPECTRUM and The Society of Illustrators art annuals.


On his official website, Basso explains his work:

“My work is a combination of various artistic disciplines including drawing, sculpture, photography, collage and painting. Used together, these allow me to create images of mystery, wonder, delight, sorrow and fear, which often take place in intimate stage-like settings.


The characters in my work exist in a distant, half-remembered, autumnal place where even Halloween can last forever. Images emerge through a cross-referencing of many artistic influences, memories and ideas. Ancient and flickering, monochrome films of the fantastic and macabre play continuously, running through rusted projectors. Long, silent corridors are hung with varnished, cracked paintings and brittle prints from another age, while rows of tall, wooden cabinets display bones and other arcane specimens behind panes of misted glass. In a lonely field of dry grasses under an overcast sky, sits an abandoned theater where puppets, props and painted backdrops are quietly waiting with peeling paint and thick dust. Up in a darkened attic, an antique trunk contains time worn books and comics, richly illustrated. It is here in this world of my subconscious that a childlike sense of fantasy and imagination can mingle with adult anxieties or dreams.


I would classify my work as a form of mixed-media. I typically begin a piece by drawing and working out ideas on paper. This is followed by sculpting and constructing a series of miniature, doll-like characters or maquettes, as well as a variety of intricate handmade objects that I then photograph. These objects and figures are made from all kinds of things such as clay, cardboard, string, paper, wire, tape, wood, hair and odd bits of cloth. My photographs are then processed in the computer. Each composition is made up of a number of these different photos as well as my scanned drawings, all composed and manipulated using Adobe Photoshop software.


I print out sections of my composition and, using collage techniques, build what will become the final assemblage on a surface of canvas, panel or paper. The collaged pieces are cut, torn and altered. They are also worked into with paint, pencil and other mixed media, which adds a layered patina of color and texture. Aesthetic discoveries are made as subtle passages, rhythms and shapes reveal themselves within the layers of the work. Using this meticulous battery of mixed-media techniques enables me to create handcrafted images and tactile artifacts that allow the viewer access into a dreamlike, theatrical world.


The utilization of handmade objects and environments done in miniature is partially an offshoot of my experiences creating special effect characters for the film industry, where completely artificial worlds and illusions are used to tell a story. In my case, I’m creating a frozen moment and that aspect of it relates more to painting and the types of photography that I’m interested in, particularly the early photographers of the pictorialist movement. As I’m working, it can feel as though I’m staging a tiny theater piece or perhaps curating a mysterious museum exhibit combined with a long ago forgotten sideshow of curiosities.”

Find out more about William Basso’s work at his website and Facebook.