Interview with Macabre Artist from Finland Tero Porthan

Gothic Bite Magazine likes to discover all kinds of new artists and this one I discovered while on DeviantArt. 

He has a fascinating mind and eyes for the tasteful macabre. So, I asked if an interview with us would be something he considered. Here are his answers.

A Little About Yourself

I was born in Tampere, Finland, in 1971, but have been living in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, for most of my adult life.

Bear Forest Spirit by Tero Porthan
Bear Forest Spirit by Tero Porthan

I studied graphic design, and now work in digital media as a graphic designer, 3D modeler, animator, illustrator and web designer. 

My whole like I drew and painted. Always interested in mythology and folklore, and I am illustrating creatures and characters from Finnish folklore.

The Art Interview

Alexa Wayne (A.W.): When you started drawing, what made you turn to more obscure and paranormal inspired sceneries?

Tero Porthan: I remember always having an attraction toward dark themes. At school I drew a comic called “Teacher’s Day” about a very
ill-behaving teacher, resembling a poorly drawn Mr. Potato Head, who threw pupils out of windows, etc. 

Where I grew up, punk rock and underground comics were a big thing, and certainly an influence.

Kalevala Vainamoinen by Tero Porthan
Kalevala Vainamoinen by Tero Porthan

In the seventies there were Finnish horror comics like Shokki and Dracula that were bought in second-hand shops and exchanged with friends.

I’ve always liked heavy metal, which of course is another area where dark themes prevail.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings with the dark themes and macabre creatures was an enormous influence.

A.W.: What is it about the macabre and horror that attracts you to draw in the genre?

Tero Porthan: When I was young, the macabre and horror were some things that you didn’t encounter in the mainstream culture in Finland, so it made a significant impact to see something scary and unusual, for example, horror comics or horror movies. 

When I started drawing, knowing the human anatomy became more critical, and I always found the anatomy guide books very macabre with the flesh and bones! 

Kalevala Tuonelan joutsen by Tero Porthan
Kalevala Tuonelan joutsen by Tero Porthan

At one point I only drew skulls and skeletons. My art teacher said that drawing skulls is a passing phase – little did she know that even to this day, I still draw skulls and skeletons! 

A.W.: I have noticed that most of your art is in black and gray is there a reason behind it?

Tero Porthan: If I make traditional art, I often use charcoal, with which you can create powerful black and white contrast. In my digital art, I have noticed I aim for the same dark, powerful effect. 

A.W.: What medium do you prefer when drawing, what is it that you use and why?

Tero Porthan: I prefer digital medium, and my program is Photoshop. I like digital because it’s practical both in the design phase and the finalizing. 

It’s easy to try different designs and versions – without wasting paper!

Old Folk Rising by Tero Porthan
Old Folk Rising by Tero Porthan

A.W.: Do you believe the paranormal and macabre genre are underappreciated?

Tero Porthan: When I’m on DeviantArt surrounded by horror and macabre artists, I often forget that this is not the “normal” or mainstream genre for a broader audience. 

In a way, underappreciated, but on the other hand, compared to my youth, I would say it has become more and more appreciated.

A.W.:You used to be the administrator of the DeviantArt group named, da-Morgue now you have your own group, Dark-Artistry, is there something you would like to talk about regarding its mission on DeviantArt?

Tero Porthan: I now I have my own group, Dark-Artistry

The purpose of the group is to collect horror and dark art, promote artists, hold contests with prizes, and create other activities to create a community of horror artists.

A.W.: Being from Finland, I’ve noticed on your DeviantArt page that you do enjoy Finnish Folklore would you elaborate on why you find it so fascinating for our readers that aren’t familiar with the subject?

Tero Porthan: This is a project I started with my wife, Tiina Porthan several years ago. We wanted to promote the magical Finnish folklore that is mostly unknown. 

We are thrilled by the creatures and weird characters of old poems. It’s fascinating what kind of spells Finnish shamans have used in healing, fighting against diseases and witches, and what kind of worldview they had, acting as mediators between our world and the supernatural world. 

Hiiden hirvi by Tero Porthan
Hiiden hirvi by Tero Porthan

There are little illustrations in this area, although it’s a vast tradition. We have a website dedicated to Finnish shamans at Finnish Shamans and another one about Finnish mythology at Finn Myth.

Tiina Porthan is in charge of the background research and the texts, and I make the illustrations. We want to make this tradition known worldwide, and we’re glad it has been so well received.

A.W.: When drawing, is there a type of music that you enjoy listening to?

Tero Porthan: Most often I listen to metal, not extreme, but something a bit more melodic like Powerwolf or Amorphis, but on the other hand I often listen to soundtracks from computer games, for example, music by Two Steps from Hell

Hiiden Hevonen by Tero Porthan
Hiiden Hevonen by Tero Porthan

I’m an avid gamer too!

A.W.: What creature or monster do you prefer to draw and why?

Tero Porthan: I love drawing creatures that are half-zombie half-skeleton because I like to make many changes to normal anatomy, but still trying to make them look believable. 

This process is fascinating. This method also applies to goblins, they resemble humans, but I add some made-up anatomy to make them believable as goblins. 

Kalevala Tuonelan joutsen by Tero Porthan
Kalevala Tuonelan joutsen by Tero Porthan

The third category I love to draw is animals. The folklore animals are supernatural and have magical attributes, which has to show somehow in the picture, while they have to resemble a rational animal to be recognizable.

A.W.: I’m sure many of our authors would like to know, myself included if you do either commissions or book covers or both?

Tero Porthan: I have done digital album covers, and my art has featured in music videos. I welcome all inquiries!

The Social Media Insanity!

If you feel like stalking this amazing artist — yes, I do recommend it! He is kind enough to give us his social media links! So give him many likes and don’t forget to follow him and the websites mentioned above!

Instagram Tero Porthan
Pinterest Tero Porthan
DeviantArt Tero Porthan
ArtStation Tero Porthan

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