Interview with artist Gyula Havancsák | By Michael Pementel
Gyula Havancsák is a graphic artist from Túrkeve, Hungary, who is responsible for numerous horror-themed works. His ghoulish creatures and chilling imagery have appeared on many album and book covers.
Havancsák’s love for horror began at a young age thanks to his passion for cinema—and a little help from his grandmother. “When I was a child,” he shares, “I often visited the cinema in my hometown. I collected sci-fi magazines, books, and movies. My grandmother was really nice. When I wanted to watch a horror movie, she smuggled me into the cinema. I watched several age-[restricted] horror movies, [such] as ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Aliens,’ ‘Dracula,’ and others.”
With his love for horror movies, the seed had been planted for Havancsák to explore the arts. “Originally, I dreamed that I [would] be a mask designer for horror movies, but the pencil and the paper were my favorite tools,” he says. “I think my way [of finding my craft] wasn’t anything special; I just made thousands of drawings, and my window was wide open for the inspiration from pop culture or traditional arts.”
When asked who his five favorite horror artists are, Havancsák replies, “I am an ‘Aliens’ fan, [so] HR Giger is the first. John Carpenter, because he made the brilliant ‘The Thing’ movie. Sam Raimi, ‘Evil Dead.’ H. P. Lovecraft. Stephen King—and [all] the others!”
Havancsák’s work was facilitated by his school teachers when they took note of his talent, and like many artists, he has used his craft to help him in different facets of his life. “When I was a student, I drew huge graphite drawings onto the surface of the desk or into my books,” he recalls. “When my literature teacher saw this, she always gave me homework to illustrate poems or draw poet portraits—this is almost [the] same as what I do now. I finished cartoon drawing school and a computer graphics course and, after, tried to find a job [in the] workplace. I spent 12 years as a game developer [drawing] textures and matte paintings, designing interfaces or posters. When I arrived home after the day job, I continued the work on CD and book covers.”
Havancsák’s artwork has appeared on the album covers of bands such as Annihilator, Iron Maiden, and Jungle Rot, and he has created book covers for the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Anne Rice. For Havancsák, there’s a genuine enjoyment in creating horror imagery: it is a means of expressing himself while also having fun. “I guess I have too much aggression in me, [but] I think I am a really friendly guy, and I try to keep the demons [inside] me,” he shares. “I enjoy the work on a horroristic death metal cover much better than a nice fantasy image. That is the real horror to me!”