Ramiro Roman, a.k.a. SKINCUBE, creates horror art, comics, memes, and other good stuff. Following his feature, Ramiro agreed to a Q&A session — documented via e-mail.
Interview with SKINCUBE
“SKINCUBE” is a fantastic alias for a horror artist. When and how did you come up with “SKINCUBE”?
It comes from a 2-part series of comics I did many years ago, when I was first starting out online. It was a surreal horror story about a cube made of flesh and organs. It was somewhat popular at the time, and I became known as the “SKINCUBE guy”. The name kinda stuck.
Is SKINCUBE a separate identity you have to step into? Or are SKINCUBE and Ramiro Roman both one and the same?
It’s just one and the same, for the most part. I try not to share too much about my personal life. I like to think of the name as a brand, so it’s easier for people to remember.
On that note, is there a “horror lifestyle” attached to being a horror artist? (E.g., do you bathe in pig’s blood, wear a cow skull between art projects, etc.?)
I like to consume a lot of that media. Whether it’s watching horror movies/TV, or looking at other creator’s works in the same genre.
In your Artist’s Statement, you cited VHS tape covers as one of your main influences. Aside from the covers, are there any specific movies that have influenced your work? Do you have a favorite movie?
Movies are probably my main influence on everything. I’m not really too interested in modern comics or books. The stuff that’s always spurred me on are films. I don’t have a favorite film, but some of my favorite filmmakers are David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Dario Argento is also a favorite. I remember seeing Suspiria when I was young and just being enthralled by the way it looked. Same with George Romero’s Creepshow, which was inspired by EC Comics. Lots of gorgeous, colorful shots and bizarre scenes. I usually judge movies on how well they were able to entertain me or take me out of reality. It could be really dumb and I’d still love it, if it managed to entertain me or be original.
I’m really happy to see a lot of that visual flair making a comeback, too. So many artists, filmmakers, and musicians now are emulating that old 70’s/80’s style. It’s nostalgic but also very new. It’s almost as if they’re trying to re-create what those older films/soundtracks were like in our mind. Turning vague memories into lavish recreations of what we think that era was.
Do you draw inspiration from other art mediums — music, literature, video games, etc.? Which ones/titles?
I used to be a big fan of horror and ero-guro manga. Still am, although I don’t read much of it anymore. Some of my favorite creators were Suehiro Maruo, Jun Hayami, Kazuo Umezu, Hideshi Hino, and of course Junji Ito. Maruo had a profound effect on me — it made me want to make images that stuck with you.
I play games, but I usually stick with things I’m familiar with, and then I don’t explore the medium much. I’m always playing either Soulsborne games or whatever it is Bethesda put out — even though we can all agree that New Vegas was the better Fallout, and everyone else is just wrong. Not many games inspire me creatively the way, say, Silent Hill did. I mostly just play for fun.
I’m not even going to pretend I read books these days. I probably read more creepypasta and “true” paranormal experiences than books. That makes me sound very dumb, but it’s true LOL
From an outsider’s perspective, Los Angeles seems altogether colorful, fun, sunny, strange, dark, depraved, and grotesque …similar to your work. Do you feel your L.A. surroundings have informed your art style at all?
I like to say there are layers to L.A. It’s very normal and friendly, and then the deeper into the city you go it gets very bleak and not fun to be in. It’s kind of odd, because even in the fancier parts you’ll find pockets of areas that are desolate. You could be walking down a brightly lit street with frozen yogurt and sushi shops. Then, suddenly, there’s an alley that smells like dead fish, with 3 hobos fighting each other, while an emaciated cat glares menacingly above them. It’s probably inspired some of the stuff I’ve done, and I just don’t realize it.
How does the “Big City” artist lifestyle suit you? Or is that not a thing now that anyone from anywhere can share their art online?
It’s certainly not a thing for me. I like to stay inside as much as I can. I don’t really like to glamorize stuff like that. I just make stuff.
Given that not everyone’s into faces melting off and bugs crawling out of eye sockets, do you feel your art style/genre puts you outside of the mainstream art scene? (Wherever that is these days…)
Not at all, I think there’s been a huge interest in horror art lately. I’m seeing more and more names I’ve been familiar with for years, suddenly thrust out into the limelight. I think it’s because horror has seen a bit of a boom recently, with movies and YouTube horror videos becoming more mainstream and easier to access. It’s gonna sound silly, but I think those Scream Factory Blu-Rays have had a big effect on horror art. It’s introduced younger people to great films and introduced fans to amazing horror artists. Pretty wild!
Are there any lines you won’t cross with your horror art?
This is hard, because I want to say “no.” The stuff I used to do was much more violent and edgy, but over the years I’ve gotten more interested in just making things “aesthetic”. If someone comes at me with something sexual or violent, I don’t say “no.” I’d probably say “no” if there was something in it that I feel would be causing some kind of harm to someone or my own reputation for indulging that. I’ll cross lines, but they’re very vague and fine lines.
There’s a sort of meme element to your more social commentary pieces. I’m thinking of the [CURRENT YEAR] of the Frogs piece, as well as the Milo Yiannopoulos works. Evidently, the world has gone nutso over this stuff, but you seem to be having some fun with it. How’s my intuition there?
Memes are fun. The best memes have layers of irony in them that make people stop and want to dissect them. I grew up on the internet hanging around forums and imageboards. So, it’s colored a lot of what I find funny. I certainly put some of my opinion in meme-related things I make. But, really, I’m just trying to entertain. It’s ridiculous, but I have a whole process when making a meme to make sure it gets seen. It usually starts with me feeling compelled to say something. Then I think about how to make it visual and entertaining, what imagery would be unique and interesting, and if there are any existing memes I can inject into it. I’ve been doing this anonymously for sometime. It wasn’t until the 2016 US Election that I went all out and tried to piss people off just to see what would happen. Eventually it got boring, and I now like to make memes that are mostly just for fun. Though when you make a meme making fun of The Last Jedi, it’s bound to irritate some people.
As an inherently subversive genre, horror seems better capable at attacking and defending against today’s art-corrupting forces (e.g., political correctness, religious intolerance, etc.). Am I naive in saying that? Or is all of that a non-issue on your end?
I’ve always believed in the freedom to create and say what you like. There are consequences that come with that freedom, and as a creator you should always be prepared to face them. But the current dominant thinking in culture seems to just want to prevent people from making anything that will offend or create controversy. Which just leads creators to make boring, preachy nonsense. This is a poison. And I always find it very distressing to see other creators cheering on censorship in any form that could be directed at anyone. There are plenty of artists whose work I find offensive or ill-informed, but I would never want them denied their ability to keep creating. I’m not sure if some of these creators are ignorant, stupid, or both. Indulging that behavior is an invitation to your own creative demise.
Horror is a genre people like this always come after, too. Just look up to see what happened to horror comics in the 50’s and 60’s, and what effects that had on the medium in the decades after. I would hate to see horror suddenly become PC or Anti-PC. Not that I don’t think there’s a place for either, since horror is so full of variety. But I’d rather people just continue making what they like.
Q.i. I saw via Twitter that you’re on Bloodborne. How awesome is Bloodborne, by the way?
Q.ii. If you’re still active on Bloodborne, can you help me co-op beat that Orphan of Kos fucker?
Bloodborne is my favorite game ever made. I’ve probably played through it around 60 times, with different save files and characters. I said on a podcast once: This is probably the best Lovecraft-themed media ever created. It absolutely gets what makes cosmic horror so interesting, while being fun to play.
Every playthrough I get to Orphan of Kos, beat him once, then skip him on NG+. Right up there with Artorias in Dark Souls on my list of: “Bosses that Nearly Made me Weep.” I could certainly TRY to help you, I have a high-level character that I keep around just to help other players with.
Where can we find more of you and your artwork, and what’s the best way for people to support you?
You can find my work on skincubeworld.com, which contains links to other places I post on. If you wanna support me, hire me for a commission or a job. If you like, you can also donate on Patreon and see some stuff I don’t post anywhere else: patreon.com/skincube.