The 13th Floor

An Interview with Bryan Moore: The Artist Behind the Poe, Lovecraft and Bram Stoker Memorial Busts

Bryan Moore is a driven man. These days his drive is all about placing busts of famous authors in the spots where they matter. The newest project is Bram Stoker. Sounds easy? We were able to talk to him about his seemingly unending quest.

BLUMHOUSE.COM: This Stoker is the latest in a project that encompassed how many authors over what period of time?

BRYAN MOORE: The first author that I ever sculpted was H.P. Lovecraft, all the way back in 2002 when I started taking a keen interest in literary figures whose works I enjoyed reading. I’ve sculpted Lovecraft three times now, with Edgar Allan Poe following with two separate sculptures. My interest in the occult also drew me to sculpt figures of Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey. Like all artists, there’s always room for improvement.

BH: How do you pick and fund your projects?

MOORE: When it comes to crowd-funding, economics dictate the final subject. I knew with Lovecraft and Poe that their literary fanbases had evolved into pop culture. If your favorite author is on a t-shirt or there’s a plush Cthulhu or Raven being made, chances are that you can count on the respective fanbase to help you hit your goal. For instance, I knew that with Bram Stoker there was a niche market for fans of vampires and the goth culture, not to mention the huge influence of everything from the historical Vlad Tepes all the way to the TWILIGHT films. DRACULA is remade endlessly as a film. When you’re crowdfunding, you have to view everyone as a walking twenty dollar bill or you’ll have a project that doesn’t hit its funding goal and months of your time wasted. So, I follow the rule of “If the author is on a t-shirt, then it’ll fund.”

BH: What made you start this?

MOORE: I learned what I learned about running a successful crowdfunding campaign from [filmmaker] Jovanka Vuckovic when we worked on the Lovecraft bust project together. She has a real head on her shoulders for business, and the success of that project would not have happened without her guidance. I see a lot of sculptors making their mark in realistic, lifesize figures, smaller collectibles, masks, all kinds of things. I carved out my own niche by putting bronze busts of horror authors in libraries and museums. Will others follow my example? Possibly, if they can put the focus on being as good a salesman as they are a sculptor.

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Image Credit: Bryan Moore

BH: How do you pick the location for the bust and do you need permission of any sort?

MOORE: The process of picking a location for these busts is fraught with rejection by people who never seem to grasp the concept of you trying to give them an expensive piece of art for free. When I sculpted the bust of Lovecraft, I was turned down by no less than five libraries in Providence who had no clue who Lovecraft was. One place even told me they’d rather have me put a Coke machine in their lobby instead of a bust of an author from their hometown. The Poe bust was turned down by only one library before the Boston Public Library accepted it, strangely. Eight libraries declined the Bram Stoker bust before it found a home at the Dublin Writers Museum. I was also very lucky to make friends with Dacre Stoker, who runs the Bram Stoker Estate. He and I shared the vision that a bronze tribute to his ancestor was long overdue. We became fast friends.

BH: What role does author David J. Skal have in this one?

MOORE: Dave and I have been pals since we both worked on the film GODS AND MONSTERS as consultants. I had gone on a road trip with Ian McKellen to visit David Manners from the 1931 DRACULA, so that’s how I got on board that film and Dave was already there by the time I arrived. We hit it right off, and have stayed in touch over the years, but the Bram Stoker bust was the first chance that we actually figured out a way to work together. He’s been fantastic and has introduced me to an entire literary circle that has thrown their entire support for the project behind it. Ditto on Peter Straub, Steve Niles, George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman all being incredibly supportive of all my author bust projects. I’m lucky to have met the kind people that I have that graciously lent their name to my vision. Guillermo del Toro has been an incredible supporter of these projects and is the nicest guy on the planet.

I’m very, very lucky to be working with a great project team on the Bram Stoker Bronze Bust Project. This is my third time working with the amazing artist Graham Humphreys, who has really branded the look of these bust projects with his incredible art. Reber Clark and I have worked on a number of projects together and he always provides great musical arrangements for the fundraising campaigns. Lizette Webb-Strike has proven invaluable in directing our social media which allows me to focus on the campaign itself and getting this sculpture done.

BH: Are all these busts done by the same artist?

MOORE: Yup, it’s me who sculpts every one of these bronze boys, usually with a glass of Cabernet and Wagner thundering from the speakers. Shutting out the world and going into the “clay zone” is hard to do, but man….once you get there it’s bliss. It becomes all about the art.

BH: What is the average cost of one of these?

MOORE: Each bust project has a minimum goal of $30,000.00 to cover all the costs of the project that are readily apparent, and many costs that aren’t. The costs of the projects are astronomical from the start, and if you’re fortunate enough to surpass your original number, then the cost of the project rises proportionately. If you can pocket a few bucks in the process, then do it. Creativity has a price tag.

BH: Do they each take about the same amount of time, or have you been able to streamline since the first project?

MOORE: Well, since this is my third bust project, I have indeed streamlined the process, but the hard work of building that audience specific to each project starts from scratch every time. If you do one of these crowdfunded projects, plan on 18 hour days, seven days a week, for months on end. You have to treat it like a business or a full-time job, because that’s exactly what it is. I learned a lot about promoting via social media from two angels that I truly respect, filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska. They know what they’re doing and are peerless at what they do. They’ve been incredibly gracious at supporting my projects, and it’s my absolute pleasure to support theirs in return.

These bust projects are always much more work than folks might realize. While the sculpting part is certainly fun, the majority of the job is a hard hustle that I don’t think most people would believe. You have to have an unbelievably thick skin; accept rejection as par for the course. You can’t please everybody. Whether it’s busts of authors or making films, everyone has to hack through the jungle called life over and over again to keep earning your place in the grand scheme of things. I’m no exception.

BH: What is the criteria for the project, as far as how you pick the subject?

MOORE: The criteria would be an author who resonates with me personally, as well as who I know will “sell.”  After 30 years of being a sculptor, there a price at the end of the day on that experience, and I only take on a project that I know is practical financially. Just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean that you can’t have a solid business sense in understanding the logistics of marketing. Granted, I’ll gladly take a risk if it’s something creative that I believe in and that I really want to do, but I’m at a point in my life where failure holds very little appeal for me.

BH: Who’s next?

MOORE: The king of horror, baby. The king of horror!

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You can find out more about the Bram Stoker Bust Project through their Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram accounts.

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