His dark, creepy art has been making us nervous for some time, forcing us to check over our shoulders and look under our beds, you know, just in case. Now Austrian artist Stefan Koidl is bringing together some of his most terrifying digital illustrations in a debut book.
The Art of Stefan Koidl has recently enjoyed a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, completely smashing Stefan's humble target of seven thousand pounds, showing just how much his fans enjoy his frightening, haunted scenes. We're talking ominous futuristic cityscapes where the rule of law doesn't exist, ghouls that only appear as you look in the mirror, and eyes that seem to follow us everywhere. Stefan also has a passion for carving Krampus masks, which also attract lots of likes on his popular Instagram feed.
In his book, Stefan plans to showcase his passion for his work, share stories behind some of his creations, talk about his experiences of turning art into a career, and break down his creative processes. He'll also feature stories written by his incredibly loyal fans, who like to add narrative to his dark artworks. It's an interesting interaction where the artist imagines a scary scene and his followers interpret what it might mean. "My illustrations speak for themselves but I've always had the desire to attach a story to them," Stefan tells Creative Boom. "Personally, it's always been a bit difficult for me to write, because I don't quite feel I can express myself in the way I would like to. This is where my fans stepped in to help, by writing their own stories and interpretations of my work."
"I especially like to paint creepy and dark stuff – I find it thrilling to 'play' with a viewer's fear," he adds. And play he does, tapping into our darkest fears. Is there anything that scares Stefan? "I am relatively hardened from horror movies and computer games," he tells us. "But if I had to choose one thing it would probably be a classic, like the invisible or being alone in the forest at night. Who isn't afraid to be alone in complete darkness in the woods and hear strange noises? It is the unknown and unrecognisable that scares me. I can say that things like orcs, demons or other creatures do not scare me, because this is something figurative and I can define it exactly."
Based in Hallein, Austria, Stefan is a freelance illustrator whose clients include Dark Horse Comics, Hi-Rez Studios, Ravensburger, and Rhino Games. As mentioned previously, he's also a Krampus mask carver – Krampus being an Austrian tradition where hundreds of people dress as a half-goat, half-demon every December and run through the streets of Austrian towns. The character's role in folklore is to punish children who have been naughty. Yes, terrifying.
Stefan is hugely inspired by his favourite artist, Simon Stalenhag, along with films and TV series such as Lord of The Rings and Vikings. "One of my favourite series is Stranger Things. The mood and the mysteriousness that it conveys often hits the nail on the head. It takes you back to childhood, even if you weren't born at that time period," he says.
His book, The Art of Stefan Koidl, is expected to be available from next May. There are two versions of his book in the making: a standard edition and a premium. Hardbacked and printed on high-quality Munken Arctic Paper, it will contain 320 pages of terrifying artwork and stories. The premium version will include a slipcase, creating a real collector item.
"I never thought that my passion for such gruesome topics in my art would ever attract such a huge audience," Stefan says. "From the first picture I posted online until now, my viewers have always been there for me and have devotedly followed my career. This book is a dream come true. To see how my artistic development has been immortalised piece by piece fills me with pride."