When we recently caught up with NeckFace, the elusive graffiti goblin was busy conspiring with the crew helping him create his nightmarish opus at O.H.W.O.W., on the corner of NW 32nd Street and Seventh Ave.
The 25-year-old West Coast street artist has been in town since August preparing for "Devil's Disciple," his premiere solo Miami show.
NeckFace, whose work has appeared in magazines and galleries since he was a teen, and is also emblazoned across skateboards, sneakers, and T-shirts from Los Angeles to New York, London, and Tokyo, has already created a local ruckus even though his creepy exhibit won't open until Halloween night.
His huge street murals and deftly executed drawings evoke all manner of references ranging from Big Daddy Ed Roth, the creator of the Rat Fink character, to a doodle-addled Hieronymus Bosch or a young Tim Burton and even the hellfire-and-brimstone images often found in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.
To generate buzz for his sprawling 10,000-square-foot exhibit, he created a dummy in the gallery window last month, rigging it to look like a bloody murder victim and covering its noggin with his own hair to make it appear real. The stunt immediately landed NeckFace's handiwork on the local news.
It seems that some of the gallery's neighbors are still fearful NeckFace might emerge after nightfall to tear off their flesh with a red-hot pincer and pour boiling butter into their wounds. During our visit with the enfant terrible, we discovered someone had left a Bible outside the space, presumably to ward off the demons lurking inside.
The artist took some time from his grueling schedule to talk shop with New Times and share his experiences in the Big Mango over the past two months.
New Times: Where did you grow up?
Neckface: In a small town in northern California between Sacramento and Oakland.
NT: What's the inspiration behind your devilish drawings?
N: Visiting my grandma in Mexicali and laughing at pictures of murder victims in crime magazines with her.
NT: Is this the first time you have added a haunted house to one of your shows?
N: Yes. My family has been doing this at home for more that 20 years. My oldest brother started it when he was in fifth grade, so I have grown up around this stuff. My mom convinced him that we could continue the tradition, only this time importing it to the East Coast, so he's been here with me setting it up.
NT: Will the rest of the family be coming to Miami for the opening?
N: About ten of my relatives, including my four brothers and parents, will be acting in the haunted house and trying to scare the shit out of everyone inside.
NT: Do you guys make your own Halloween props?
N: Sometimes, but we also get them from flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales.
NT: Did you go to art school?
N: Yes. I won't tell you which one, though, because I don't want to give them any props. All I learned in art school was to break in the lockers and steal materials for my work, so I dropped out.
NT: Have you enjoyed working in Miami so far?
N: I feel like I've been trapped in a cave trying to work my way out. I usually work until midnight and sometimes all night long so I don't have many distractions.
NT: Have you made it out to the Wynwood gallery openings yet?
N: I did, but the stuff I saw in Wynwood bored me. I'm more into the type of work that looks like a crackhead painted a Marlboro sign. I did go to some openings in Little Havana where old people were dancing and they had cigars and some crooked one-dollar rum and Cokes, and that was cool.
NT: Your new series of cigarette drawings mark a departure for you. Where do they come from?
N: They started in New York as stuff I was drawing on cocktail napkins at a place called Lit Lounge where I have friends. After about collecting a dozen or so I figured I would take them in a new direction in this work.
NT: Has your work been increasing in prices?
N: The galleries I work with are the ones that handle that. I still can't believe I'm selling this stuff because I'm not that kind of dude. I just want the local drug dealer to be able to afford it.
"Devil's Disciple" opens Saturday, October 31, at O.H.W.O.W. (3100 NW Seventh Avenue, Miami). For more information, call 305-633-9345 or visit oh-wow.com.