This interview originally appeared at The Halloween Database
Chatting With Chad Savage
By Noah (AKA Jolly Pumpkin)
We chat with Chad Savage of Sinister Visions and learn about his history with horror, web design and beyond. Chad Savage is one of the most respected web designers in the industry. He is involved in the World Horror Convention, board Member of the World Horror Society, Art Show Director for HorrorFind Weekend, Baltimore, MD and much much more.
Can you give us a little background on your web design and Halloween art?
I’ve always loved Halloween. Better than Christmas. ALWAYS. And I’ve always been an artist. So it was only natural. The web design part was a logical extension of my degree in (and love of) graphic design in the early ’90’s. I’ve been drawing and painting scary things since I was old enough to hold a crayon; I did my first haunted house logo for Haunted Verdun Manor in Dallas in 1991. The rest is history.
What has been the most difficult website you have created?
One that I can’t give you a link to, for a client I can’t tell you about. CRYPTIC!
What’s involved in the process of creating an advanced flash website?
Time. A lot of time. That’s what most people don’t get when they see the price tag – they’re paying for the amount of TIME that level of animation/programming requires.
How would you compare yourself to other web designers out there in the haunt industry?
I wouldn’t. I don’t have time for comparisons. I do the best job I can and leave it to others to judge.
What inspires you to create some of the frightening images and websites that you come up with?
I love this stuff. Halloween, horrror, haunted houses – all of it. I always have. I live and breathe this stuff. I do Halloween 365 days a year and I never, ever get tired of it. I don’t have a day job – this IS my day job. I don’t do anything else. This is what I do, because it’s what I love to do.
What’s your life like outside of the industry?
See above! I am completely immersed in my work. If I’m not working, I’m probably watching a horror movie. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably reading a horror book. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably having lunch with my wife and kids, but after that, I’ll be working, watching a horror movie or reading a horror book!
Tell us a little about the character you created, Zombo The Clown?
Zombo is dead. May he rest in peace. OK, he was always dead, but now he’s the kind of dead that most people think of when they think of “dead”.
How was your life before web design and dark art? Were you as happy?
There is no “before” – I’ve been drawing this stuff from day one. You could ask my parents, if they weren’t dead.
Who is your favorite web designer besides yourself and why?
Vincent Marcone – www.mypetskeleton.com and www.johnnyhollow.com , because he’s friggin’ amazing.
You are at tons of conventions and gatherings every year. How have people treated you since becoming part of the haunt and dark art industry? Has it been generally positive?
For the most part, it’s been great. There are very, very few people who do what I do, and even among my competitors, NOBODY offers the complete range of services that I offer – my competitors either have several employees or farm out certain types of work, whereas I do everything myself – art, design, website coding, Flash, font design, sound design, logo design, character design, photography, etc.
The industry has treated me very well, and I love it – haunted houses, horror, Halloween, dark art, all of it.
If you could change one thing about the haunt industry, what would that be?
The same thing I’d change in ANY industry. Egos. Nepotism. Hypocrisy. The people who bray about how much they do for the industry while they clearly are only in it for themselves. If I could get everybody in this (or any) industry to accept the fact that other people might do things differently than they do things, and that that’s OK, then I’d be content.
What’s one thing you would tell an aspiring web designer starting out?
Oh, I have LOTS of things to tell aspiring designers…
At first, do everything for free, and accept the fact that you don’t know nothin’ about nothin’, even though you think you do. Build your portfolio this way.
Learn from your mistakes, and ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES, and APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR MISTAKES, and MAKE UP FOR YOUR MISTAKES.
Look at the code of the designers you admire, and figure out how they do what they do – then do something different and cooler. Don’t mimic them, or you’ll just look like the hack you are.
Realize that nobody owes you anything, and that buying a copy of Dreamweaver makes you a designer the same way that buying a hammer makes you a carpenter.
Accept criticism when it’s constructive and meant to help you do better next time.
Recognize when somebody’s trying to take advantage of you, and don’t let them. Recognize when somebody doesn’t appreciate what you do, and don’t work for them. But be humble. Don’t take any crap, but be humble.
Once you’ve learned your chops and paid your dues, and you start charging for your services, don’t let somebody talk you into doing stuff for free on the promises of fortune, fame and glory – it never comes, and you’ll do lots of work for free for people that think you’re a chump for doing it.
Talk to your peers, and maintain friendly relationships with your competitors whenever possible. It’s called “professionalism”.