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Don’t be afraid of the dark – interview with Malakiah Nightingale

About a year ago I met the upcoming artist Malakiah Nightingale on social media and we immediately clicked. What brought us together was art, and specifically the dark side of our art. I always describe art as a conversation. Malakiah and I literally began speaking in drawing form. We began sharing images that we were working on at the time and only afterwards we began talking about life, work, hobbies, and all that other stuff that’s mandatory for people to discuss in order to get to know each other. We felt that we knew each other well enough through our drawn characters. The life details were secondary. Even today, as I learn new life facts about my friend, they do not change my opinion of him. His art tells me everything I need to know.

Much like myself, Malakiah is not afraid of exploring the dark corners of his and the collective psyche. Many people are afraid of art that is dark in its nature. I believe that they are afraid of it because it reflects parts of themselves that they wish to keep hidden. We all have shadows that reach all the way to Hell. Malakiah and I embrace ours. This does not make us Satan worshippers or negative or unhappy people. On the contrary, we are both life loving individuals, who spend a lot of time helping people and animals in physical and psychological ways. Through our art we like to show people that the dark part of human nature should not necessarily be feared. There is a lot of beauty in darkness. We invite you to explore ours.

In this interview with Malakiah I hope to demonstrate that some elements of darkness can be very rewarding. So, without further ado, I present to you – Malakiah Nightingale.

Malakiah’s drawing of Eliza

LISA: Do you recall how we met on Facebook? I trace our relationship back to receiving a photo of a drawing from you. It was a girl holding a teddy bear. True to your style, she was covered in scars and stitches and her dress was decorated with ancient runes. What kind of things were you drawing before then?

MALAKIAH: Yes, I remember that drawing, it was called Eliza – a character from a story I wrote of the same name. Before that? There was skulls, castles, angels, eyes, a little bit of everything, most of my drawing has always been obscure, gothic or even demonic.

LISA: When did you begin drawing and what were your themes and subjects at the time?

MALAKIAH: Well, I’ve been drawing since forever. Literally, I always got in trouble in preschool and day care because of that. I was drawing skulls and demons all the time, but my style was refining itself along the way. Since I’m self-taught I am still learning, but meeting a few other artists helped me define my style.

LISA:  I understand completely. I am self taught since the day I could hold a pencil too. And, yes, I got into lots of trouble in school for doodling ALL the time. I even failed a math test once because instead of working out the problems I began drawing all the numbers as ancient carvings.

What other art forms have you experimented with?

Malakiah Nightingale

MALAKIAH: I’m an amateur writer,  of psychological thrillers specifically. I am also a “musician”. I used to have a death metal band called “The house of nightmares.” I also did theatre and wrote a few theatre plays.  I’m all about art.

LISA: Do you ever incorporate your art into your work environment? I know that you worked with children for a while for example.

MALAKIAH: When I used to work with children, one of the treatments I applied a lot was painting – painting with the fingers, brushes, with sponges, etc.  Painting reduces anxiety. I was also a hospital clown. We played a lot with music, did non-allergenic paintings, and colored with pencils.  It was rewarding.

LISA: You have quite an extensive knowledge of runes and ancient symbols of witchcraft. In fact, you even helped me out with a project once, when I needed professional advice on symbolism. When did you become interested in the dark arts, so to speak, and what is your involvement with this line of study? Is it a fascination with witchcraft in general, or are you more interested in symbology?

Malakiah as Little John the hospital clown

MALAKIAH: I think both. I got into witchcraft a long time ago because of a friend of mine, my spiritual brother. Dreams and messages without explanation used to come to me when I was sleeping. Even when I was drawing, these symbols popped out of nowhere, so I began to research about the symbols and because of that I ended up with a bunch of grimoires. I love symbology because it is another form of communication and art.

LISA: I have always found ancient symbols fascinating as well. I went through my witchcraft phase when I was a teenager, learning how to read palms and lines of the face and wrists. Then I got sucked into astrology and numerical patterns. Today I am interested in all types of ancient mythology, even though now I study it more from a behavioral psychology angle rather than mysticism. It is my belief that as human beings we know certain things about our own nature before then can even comprehend or explain them. So we express this knowledge through art. Ancient myths of all cultures reveal so much about our psychology and theatre is a great reflection of human values.  I believe that it is important to explore all art forms, but like you I tend to gravitate towards the dark and the mysterious.

My digital painting, featuring Sheri Moon Zombie, using symbols provided by Malakiah

LISA: Who are some of your favorite artists and authors?

MALAKIAH: Too many to pick one, but I always found fascinating the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, not only his painting but his drawings and sketches above all.  For colors I like a lot Vincent Van Gogh, but like I said too many for me to pick one. Of course you are one of my very favorite author/artists.

LISA: We have so much in common as artists, it’s incredible. Leonardo Da Vinci has always been my favorite as well. As a child I used to copy his sketches, which is how I discovered that he was left handed. To compensate for his left handed charcoal strokes, I taught myself to draw with my left hand. I too am fascinated with all aspects of his life, mainly his anatomical studies and his flying machines.

Where are you located geographically and how does that location influence your life and your art?

MALAKIAH: I’m currently located at Madeira Island off the coast of Portugal. My work is influenced most of the time by my feelings, and one of the hardest things I had to do was leave my country (Venezuela) to start over here. But – no complains. I love going to art galleries and seeing the paintings and sculptures displayed there. Most of the artists are like me, Latin-American, but also Russian, and German.

Malakiah’s eye study example

LISA: Since you and I began corresponding, I have given you some tips and guidance in your artistic endeavors. Were any of those useful to you? If yes, how so?

MALAKIAH: Oh yes, absolutely. Most of your tips helped me a lot for being truthful to my style, and for developing more skills I actually didn’t know I had. But mostly the encouragement and the support, and Eyes: all about Eyes project.

One of my hand-made marionettes, Hel.

LISA: How, if at all, does my art influence your drawing, coloring and painting?

MALAKIAH: You make me challenge myself to try new stuff, I still remember that “homework” you gave me some time ago. “Make this month all about eyes, eyes are your objective.” Also your dolls – I love them. They make me realize I enjoy drawing gothic and Victorian dolls.  Likewise, you remind me that it’s ok to embrace the “dark art”. I must point out that I got better at coloring and drawing because of this influence.

LISA: What is it about our styles that makes us understand each other so well, do you think? We each clearly have a very strong and recognizable style, yet quite different from one another. What’s our common ground?

MALAKIAH: I think it’s the darkness, like clowns, dolls, demons, etc.… We can make a drawing without seeing the other’s drawing, and when finished they would be as if they belong together because of the theme. For example, my jesters and your circus, they could be in the same book and they would be fitting together, I think.

LISA: I agree. We definitely both have a flare for the darker side of things, and we do often create similarly themed pieces without planning to do so.

Malakiah’s drawing on the left. My drawing on the right.

LISA: You have recently published your first two coloring books. Is that correct? What motivated you to go down the path of adult coloring?

MALAKIAH: Yes, I published two coloring books. The first one is called “Tarot” and it is inspired by the 22 arcane of tarot (a little of my witchcraft background), but in a unique way. My arcane is made up of dolls. The second book is called “Jester Tales”. In this one I wanted to make things a little different, so I included a small story for each jester on the book. Six of them are inspired by real people (including you Lisa). Both books are very different, but still you can see clearly the style on them.
About what motivated me to follow the coloring book path, it was you of course. I was (and still am) inspired by you, your dolls and toys, your art. What can I say? I’m honored to know you.

Malakiah’s character Alice

LISA: Awwww. *blush* Thank you, my friend. I am thrilled to be an inspiration. It has been very rewarding watching you blossom artistically. You hit the nail on the head when you said that as self-taught artists we continue learning forever. There is no destination in art, there is only the journey. Your journey is worth watching and following.

What kind of an audience do you target with your line art? What is a general profile of your typical colorist?

MALAKIAH: My books are for those who want to put their personal touch on the drawings. Most of the time I do a background but is not defined, so the colorist could develop his/her creativity. Most of the books are kid friendly but they are targeted to adults.

LISA: Yes. You are absolutely correct. I am always fascinated by how censored the word of so-called adult coloring is. There are multi-hundred member adult coloring groups out there that don’t allow nudity or horror themes. I find it very humorous. I like for my audience to indulge in their dark fantasies as well, while expressing themselves. I am very interested in human psychology and for me art is always a search for something. If I can help my colorists deal with their emotional problems, or simply to wallow in a non-conventional fantasy, I think I did my job right.

A page from “Jester Tales” colored by a customer

 

A page from “Tarot” colored by a customer

LISA: Where can your coloring books be purchased?

MALAKIAH: My books are on ETSY as digital downloads in my store Watercraft Creations, and on Amazon as a printed versions. Here are the links:

Jester Tales

Tarot

ETSY

LISA: What are you working on next?

MALAKIAH: I’m currently working on a new book called “Coventry” and it would be mostly witches themed, but also a few other surprises.

LISA: That is most exciting news. I am looking forward to seeing that come to life. Thank you so much for your time and your art, my friend. I have a feeling this artistic journey is only getting started.

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