I Like to Paint Monsters -The Minds behind The Chet Zar Documentary

by Christina Diaz

Film maker Mike Correll has set out to explore dark artist Chet Zar. We were lucky enough to chat with the two of them and find out what fueled Mike to create the dark documentary and what they would be doing if they weren’t painting monsters.

Q & A with Chet and Mike
{E}: Why make the documentary? What inspired you to make it?
Chet: It was Mike’s idea; why did I go along with it is the question, for me. I was just taking a chance; it seemed like a good idea at the time. I got a good feeling about it and it seemed like an adventure! I thought it could be a new experience and possibly good for my career. Those are enough reasons for me.
Mike: When I joined the growing ranks of social media initiates in 2010 I saw “Pipe Dream”, which a friend had as his profile pic. I was awestruck by the painting, the creature appearing so akin to the monsters I had met in dreams, that I began a search to locate the artist. Once I determined that Chet Zar was the man behind the monster, I took a trip down the dark art rabbit hole, traveling through the twisted quagmire that is www.chetzar.com. Further investigation revealed a highly talented and spiritually attuned artist, who is humble, down to earth and most importantly, accessible. After a profound dreaming experience in which I was making a documentary about Chet, I awoke with the idea burning in my mind, and shot off a personal message, which is ultimately what got the ball rolling.

{E}: What’s the demographic for the film? 
Chet: Anyone who likes documentary, art, and Dark Art specifically. Any of my fans who want to know more about me, where I came from and what I’ve done with my life. People interested in tattoo culture will probably be drawn to it, but I really think that if someone enjoys documentary and art, they will enjoy the film, no matter what their other tastes are.
Mike: That is a good question! I really have not given it much thought. I have been so embroiled in the creation process, following the many threads the fifty plus interviews have offered. Documentary is so signature in that way, in that if you are open to it, the documentary will tell you what to do next. I suppose “I Like to Paint Monsters” (ILTPM) will be most interesting to an age bracket of 20 to 40, with special interest paid by people interested in dark art and tattoos. We also have the added benefit of a large, preexisting, devoted grass roots fan base. With that said, I have worked hard to maintain a redemptive core to the story, around which an entertaining structure paves the path. So I hope that demographics are thrown out the window, and the message reaches the broadest audience possible!

{E}: What’s the artists’ mission and/or intentions behind their contributions to the film? 
Chet: I just wanted to make the documentary good, and to do what I could to support it being a success! I love documentaries, so I wanted to help facilitate the production of a good documentary.
Mike: I think Chet and I are resolute in our position that the film should work twofold. One part should work to get his art to a larger audience, while the other part should provide the audience with a different way of perceiving things, like fear for instance. Chet has contributed his life – his memories, thoughts, family and experiences, in the hopes that I can shape the information into a palatable story. Chet has been so gracious and supportive, and has allowed me very deep in to his life, for which I am truly grateful. Aside from making this documentary, I have met a man whom I deeply respect and care for.

{E}: Tell us how you got into the industry.
Chet: Well I guess you’ll have to watch “I Like to Paint Monsters” if you really want to know the whole story.
Mike: I graduated from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University with a degree which I pioneered titled, “Imaginative Moviemaking” – a multidisciplinary subset of screenwriting, video production and fine art. After graduation I decided to work a “day job” in order to pursue the creation of a body of artistic work, on the side. So for ten years that is exactly what I did; I amassed three feature screenplays and four novels. When this documentary came along, I jumped on it. I have always felt very strong about maintaining the creative and redemptive integrity of my work, so to have the independent freedom to create a piece un-bastardized by the “industry” is truly a blessing. I ultimately owe it all to theKickstarter platform, and the many Backers (supporters) I have dubbed the “Zarmy”, for their ongoing contributions!

{E}: What did they enjoy most about making this documentary? Least? 
Chet: I like all of the relationships that I’ve made by, like becoming friends with the director, Mike, and many of my collectors, who became documentary producers through the Kickstarter process. Seeing all of the support from fans has been great too! Being interviewed I liked the least. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, but when you’re just getting started it can be nerve wracking. When the interview becomes a dialogue and you forget that the camera is running it becomes fun. Really, the entire experience has been good!
Mike: The best part is definitely all of the amazing people I have met! It is funny because although I have always dressed dark (or “weird” as I have always been told), I must still have remnants of societal stereotypes in my mind, because I marvel at how amazing all of the dark artists, tattoo artists, and respective fans are! They are the nicest, most conscientious group of positive minded people (+/- the 5% of a**holes found everywhere)! And again that seems incongruous based on the dominant paradigm, which is funny because I do not overtly buy that hype…yet it is insidious! Worst part is probably also a good part, and that is the process of self development and self reflection that inevitably occurs while making documentary. You evolve with the piece, and so do your subjects, and the process of personal development is perhaps the hardest and most important work we will ever do, which is augmented by the process of making any kind of art.

{E}: If you weren’t painting monsters, what would each of them be doing? 
Chet: If I wasn’t painting monsters I’d be doing something in the creative field. In order for me to be really interested it has to be something creative, whether it’s writing, playing music, painting, or whatever. I could probably get into just about anything in the creative field. But, if I could not work in a creative field I would work with animals.
Mike: I am so busy making art all of the time, I mean I am just compelled. I cannot help it, just ask my wife! If I am not working on film I am drawing or sculpting or writing or taking photographs. Aside from that I hike a lot, and really enjoy communing with nature, so I guess I could see myself spending more time “tuning in”, as it were (who am I kidding, that’s creative too).

{E}: Favorite horror character? (Sorry, I had to ask.)
Chet: The first Zombie you see in the original 1968 “Night of the Living Dead”. It’s perfect! It’s creepy and lanky, but not over the top. It seemed so real! Watch that movie again; that zombie is perfect!
Mike: I will always come back to Jack Torrance, as played by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”. The scariest things to me, are the things that humans perpetrate. I can handle heavy duty supernatural phenomenon, I have been dealing with that as long as I can remember, but what really scares me? People!

{E}: Earliest memory of being introduced to the horrow genre, whether it be a film or a comic book or what have you.
Chet: The original 1968 “Night of the Living Dead”, again, watching it on TV when I was a little kid. It absolutely terrified me but I couldn’t look away. After that, every time it came on I watched it and got just as scared each time. No other movie gave me that bad feeling. Even now that movie feels very natural, it has an almost documentary quality, so as a kid I could consider it as a “what if” in my mind. I would lay in bed and think, “What if Zombies really did attack?”, and I would get myself all worked up.
Mike: I have very distinct memories of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, and watching “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (the TV version) when I was very little. My parents were careful not to expose me to things that were too hardcore when it came to movies and TV, but I had free reign with books. I read Stephen King’s “Pet Semetery” when I was in the fourth grade, and the Thomas Harris classic “Red Dragon” in the sixth grade. Horror was always on my mind, because I dreamtabout horrific things every night, starting from a very young age. Reading about it helped me to get through it.

{E}: Whose art is hanging on your walls?
Chet: I hang my own art on the walls just to get it up off the floor, but most of the art I have I’ve gotten through trade with other artists. I can’t afford to buy expensive paintings, in fact I can’t afford to buy my own paintings. I have Travis Louie, Shawn Barber, Chris Haas, Brian Smith, Clinton Neuhaus, John Cebollero, Justin Slattum, Kelly Pankey, Margo King, Angela Woods, Nathan Spoor, and Cam De Leon to name a few.
Mike: I am poor, so I do not have much. I decorate with memorabilia, select prints and art that has been gifted to me. I currently have Amber Michelle Russell, Miriam Dinkens, Tim Gore, Caesar the Hun, Joy Correll, and of course Chet Zar. But I have a big art bucket list, that is for sure!

{E}: How is your work influenced or inspired by the tattoo culture? 
Chet: My work wasn’t influenced by tattoo culture initially. I missed out on the whole tattoo movement as it was picking up speed, because I was so busy beginning my career in the film industry. Since I’ve discovered the tattoo industry a few years ago, I do feel influenced by it. I am influenced by a good tattoo in the same way that I am influenced by a good painting. Art is art. I don’t really differentiate between the tattoo industry and any other kind of art form. Good art is good art.
Mike: I do not see many boundaries between mediums, more between styles of art or movements. Tattoo is just another medium, like painting, filmmaking, composing, performance, etcetera. I think that all mediums borrow from one another when they are stylistically similar. So dark tattoo artists are influenced by and inspire dark painters, dark filmmakers, and vice versa.

Follow documentary developments at www.iliketopaintmonsters.com
Instagram @ILikeToPaintMonsters
Twitter @ILk2PntMonsters
Facebook www.facebook.com/iliketopaintmonsters
YouTube channel where the “Zarchive” video collection exists, www.youtube.com/nrgcreations.

Look for ILTPM in 2015 at a Film Festival near you!

I Like to Paint Monsters -The Minds behind The Chet Zar Documentary