A Strange Imagination – Interview With Mash-up Artist Sammy Ruiz

While mingling through the vendors at the H40: 40 Years of Terror Convention (see our review of the event here), I stumbled across Sammy Ruiz’s booth. The art he had on display was radiant of a dazzling creepy appeal with inspirational ties to other artists. He is a charismatic artist who has his hands in a number of other projects that equally highlight his talent as a writer, musician, and graphic designer. Infused with his individual style and cultural ingenuity, his artwork has been on display during numerous conventions, galleries and art walks throughout the nation. His appreciation for art and horror – whether together or separately – radiates through his demeanor and discussions. Sammy was welcoming of my conversation, and we discussed different elements of horror and art. We caught up with Sammy once again for an interview to further discuss details about his work.

PopHorror: I had the chance to visit your booth at H40 and instantly connected with a lot of your products. Where do you draw your inspirations from?

Sammy Ruiz: I am primarily inspired by horror and strange things. I am also inspired by extraordinary artists, like Tim Burton, Ed Roth, Jose Clemente Orozco and Francisco Goya, but I’m equally influenced by authors and filmmakers. I love how the amazing H.P. Lovecraft made his Great Old Ones and Cthulhu come to life with words. Stephen King’s demented creations have influenced me greatly. Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro’s characters have fueled my imagination like you would not believe. But most of all, humans inspire me. When you catch a human in their natural habitat, they do strange things.

PopHorror: I can definitely see a high percentage of both Tim Burton and Ed Roth in some of the pieces I seen. There was also some of your work that had these clever mash-ups with pop icons and pop culture. How did that come about?

One of Sammy’s mash-up prints available on his website

Sammy Ruiz: My mash-ups come from movies, musicians and stories that I love. I absolutely love watching movies, reading and listening to music. After doing one of the three, I get ideas on how to depict certain characters in my own way. I throw in elements that describe my personality as well. For example, I drew Felix the Cat dressed like a Rude Boy wearing an old Ska Trojan Records patch. I will get detailed in the characters’ shirt designs, tattoos, accessories and hairstyles. The majority of the time, when I draw a character, you will see some element that describes me in that character.

PopHorror: That’s a great way for someone to get to know an artist just by appreciating their work. I really liked the detail in your Felix the Cat mash up, alongside the Rude Rats and Charlie Brown. I got the references and appreciated it as a nod to my own influences. As a musician, would you say the genre of music you perform has been molded by these personal elements?

Sammy Ruiz: Big time! My favorite music is Punk, and I always leave Punk traces in almost every drawing. The Doc Martens, band shirts, hairdos… I also love sub-genres like Heavy Metal, Ska, Rockabilly, Psychobilly and Gypsy Jazz. I am equally a musician as I am an artist, and throwing in music references is a way to include my love of music.

Sammy plays guitar and offers vocals for the band, Badluck Bandits

PopHorror: That’s very cool! Looking at your work reminds me of the hand drawn flyers for backyard gigs from back in high school. There’s an element of nostalgia to it all. Aside from your music with the band, you mentioned your collaboration with Lizzy Falcon on The Broken Ones animations. Can you tell me a little more about it?

Sammy Ruiz: The collaboration started 2 years ago. Lizzy and I were friends on social media. I was a big fan of her art even before we were friends. She had contacted me one day saying that she liked my band, and asked if I was interested in composing music for a film series she was working on called The Broken Ones. I didn’t think twice about composing the music for her. I knew from the get go that we were going to be an amazing team. Two years later, we’ve made 7 films, which are all on YouTube. The music I write for her is very Danny Elfman-ish… dark and creepy. I am so lucky that I get to write and record all of the music for her while being able to pursue my own artwork at the same time.

PopHorror: It does have a Danny Elfman flair to it. I think you did a great job capturing certain emotions tied in with the story. Speaking of stories, your short story, The Statue, was pretty creepy. It reminded me of my own grandmother’s house. What was your inspiration behind it?

Sammy Ruiz: I really enjoyed writing The Statue. My grandma’s house was the inspiration. When I was little, my parents and I lived with my grandma in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Her house was extremely haunted. She had a sewing room in her basement, and we would hear doors slam, sewing machines going on and off, people running up our staircase… To top it off, my grandma was a devout Catholic and filled the house with religious relics and statues. I have a few more stories in the works that revolve around paranormal events around Los Angeles. The book should be out on Amazon by mid-2019.

PopHorror: That’s exactly how my grandmother’s house was. Those statues have so much detail in them. They are creepy to look at, like they’re looking back out you. I’m so glad you mentioned the book you’re working on releasing next year. Where can fans and followers find it? Any other details we should know about it or any other projects you’re currently working on?

Sammy Ruiz: I don’t have a name chosen yet for the short story book. The book will have about 15 short stories and I’ll illustrate a drawing for each story. Aside from my artwork and my book, I am working on new music for Lizzy Falcon’s The Broken Ones and new personal recordings. I will be performing live later this year and in 2019. I always post updates on my Instagram.

PopHorror: That’s awesome! On behalf of PopHorror, I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us. It was great seeing your work up close and getting to know more about your influence. You’ve made a fan and future customer out of me. I look forward to your continued work and catching one of your performances.

Be sure to check out and follow Sammy Ruiz on  Instagram for updates on upcoming events, releases, merchandise and new projects he will be working on.

About Anna

Hello readers, I was born and raised in Southern California. Throughout my upbringing I grew fond of the horror movie genre thanks to my mother. With my interest in true crime, I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in forensic investigation. I enjoy art of all kind and appreciate subject matter outside the social norm. I like to engage in conversation involving my passions, so lets talk.

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