Corinne Halbert is an American artist hailing from Chicago who first came to Art Whore’s attention thanks to her ‘Hate Baby’ comic. ‘Hate Baby’ has been published at a steady pace sine 2009 slowly building an ever increasing readership and fan base.
Corinne’s art traverses many styles and mediums – from paintings, to stickers, prints, zines and comics – with themes of violence, sex, perversion, the body and humor found throughout. Creepy meets cute.
Interestingly, Corinne hails outre legend Mike Diana as a pivotal influence – with Corinne stating:
“Seeing Mike Diana’s comics for the first time made me realize you can really say whatever you want with your art. I had at times felt like maybe my stuff was too dark or disturbing for anyone to like it.
It was a really awesome feeling to look at drawings that were so incredibly awesome and so fucked up, it helped me to feel ok with the things that I was drawing.“
(Picture of Corinne below)
With Corinne constantly pushing her art at a furious pace, and her first solo show just behind her, now is the perfect time to get to know Corinne and her art, by reading the Art Talk interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Corinne Lisette Halbert
City, State n Country you currently call home?
Chicago IL, USA
City, State n Country you’re from?
Born in Anchorage Alaska, USA, I grew up in suburbs of Boston mostly.
(Pictures below of a painting by Corinne)
Describe a memory from some stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING!
* age 5 – beginnings:
I have some vivid memories from being at summer camp. Getting the shit scared out of me when some other girls and I turned off the lights in the bathroom and chanted Bloody Mary three times. I thought I really saw her, it was very haunting.
I also remember playing what in my memory is an epically huge game of capture the flag. I really felt like I was on a battlefield. I was devastated when my team lost.
* age 10 – continuations:
Seeing the Simpsons for the first time on the Tracy Ulman show was very pivotal. I don’t know if I quite got all the jokes, but I was mesmerized immediately.
I also remember my grandfather catching me watch Jerry Springer, a program I was strictly forbidden to watch. Everything going on in the episode went way over my head, but I was really attracted to the sleaziness of it all.
* age 15 – getting serious:
I went to my first concert when I was 14 yrs old, David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails! It was so exciting. The kids in front of us were smoking pot. I had actually smoked pot before at that point but not under such exciting circumstances, I think I got a contact high, ha!
(Picture below of Corinne in her teen years)
* Age 20 – young adult:
The first time I sold a drawing, it was this little monster shooting out of a dripping heart with two snakes coming out of it. I was thrilled that someone actually wanted to purchase my art; I’m still friends with her online, a very nice woman named Rebecca.
* Age 25 – adult mode:
Tripping by myself on mushrooms, I hung out in my bedroom and listened to Butthole Surfers ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ and ‘Hairway to Steven’. Every little texture and moment on the tracks were completely magnified, it was so fun. I messed around making some drawings and just laughed my ass off.
* age 30 – fully formed:
Tabling at CAKE, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo for the first time was a real game changer. I had never tabled at any expo and it was the time of my life. Certain people are naturally drawn to my table; I think Hate Baby really stands out.
It’s funny because the people I expect would like my stuff, like tattooed guys in metal shirts, usually can’t be bothered. It’s the totally shy librarian looking types that geek out over it. I’m making a generalization but it often seems the people I would least suspect are the ones that really dig my work, which is totally awesome.
* Age 35 – adult continuations:
I’m not quite there yet I’m currently 34, but my solo show Golden Days was pretty pivotal. I made the work over the course of a year and it felt like the most legitimate gallery exhibition I have had to date. No disrespect to anywhere else I have shown previously, I’ve been very lucky to have exhibited at Peanut Gallery and the Mission’s Sub Mission space in Chicago amongst other fantastic venues. But this experience felt the most professional.
They had a decal of my name along with the title of the show on the wall which thrilled me. That was a first.
I was also incredibly happy with the work I exhibited, it felt like the most “me” I have ever been.
(Picture below of a print by Corinne)
Swans, Melvins, Butthole Surfers, Roger Waters, Acid King, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Lord Mantis, Misfits and Blondie.
Favorite TV show(s)?
Ren and Stimpy and all of the Early Warner Brother’s cartoons, especially anything Tex Avery was involved with.
Deadwood, Twin Peaks, the first season of True Detective, Hannibal, Carnivale and American Horror Story to name a few.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Dr. Strangelove, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Disney’s Robin Hood, Vertigo, House on Haunted Hill (1959 Version) Dawn of the Dead, Robocop, Terminator 2 Judgment Day, Maniac (1980 version) Cronenberg’sCrash, I could keep going.
Favorite books and comics?
George Orwell’s 1984 had a very deep impact on me, Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy, and Master and Margarita the first thee books in Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series to name a few fiction novels I truly love.
Now for comics my number one is Charles Burn’s Black Hole, I was inspired to start Hate Baby after reading that book and being blown away by his artwork.
Al Columbia is one of my favorite artists of all time; I adore his book Pim and Francie.
Anything by Johnny Ryan, I love both Angry Youth and Prison Pit, I love Mike Diana, and I have Live, Die, Firebrat and a couple of loose Super Flys.
Peter Bagge and his comic Hate. I love his drawing style the over exaggeration of his character’s body movements, limbs and facial expressions is unparalleled.
I’ve been obsessed with Horror Manga lately, Junji Ito’s Gyo is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read and the art is mind-blowing. Also by Junji Ito is The Enigma of Amigara Fault which is a short story, his imagination blows my mind. I’m just starting Uzumaki. I also love Hideshi Hino, another master of Japanese Horror and creator of Hell Baby and Panorama of Hell.
Last but not least Sad Sex by Heather Benjamin.
Why the name ‘Hate Baby’ for your comics imprint?
I was walking under a bridge on North Avenue in Chicago IL with an ex-boyfriend, sometime in 2009, and we were having a crass conversation about what to call a child born of vile circumstance, such as drunken debauchery, or from two parents who hate each other. That’s when I came up with the name Hate Baby, and thought it was absolutely perfect.
Hate Baby is also an actual character in the comix. He’s an over the top violent, hate filled and rather gruesome looking thing. Hate Baby is born in the first issue and has appearances in issues 2 and 3 as well.
I am getting started on issue 6 very soon, since he ages with the reader I guess he would be in his mid to late 20’s if he’s to make an appearance in issue 6.
Favorite other artist(s)?
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Most artists I know, including myself work a full time day job, and then have a second full time job that they don’t get paid very much for, their art career.
Even people that I’ve thought to myself that guys gotta be making it on their art alone at this point, 9 times out of 10 it seems that’s not the case.
There are some extremely talented artists over extending themselves and working 60-80 hours a week because they can’t make a living off of their art which is a total bummer. But I try to not let my thoughts get weighed down and I just keep moving forward hoping someday I will be able to.
Also I feel very lucky that I am able to make art at all and I have a day job I really love working at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago IL.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
I love to draw. It is one of my favorite things to do and I get great satisfaction from being able to keep doing it.
Art is very important to me, not only is it important that I express myself but I think consuming art as an advocate or patron creates a more interesting and well rounded person. When I’m lucky enough to have a gallery showing or self publish a new comic or zine it’s a very rewarding feeling. And I get to share a little piece of myself with the world.
(Pictures below of some drawings by Corinne)
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Definitely art, I have never had any hang ups about that term and I have been referring to myself as an artist since I was a teenager.
I consider myself a Fine Artist and Illustrator who makes Comix and Zines. The only reason I make this distinction is because some of my friends and peers, people I deeply respect, specifically identify with one of these genres, i.e.: Comic Artist, Painter or Illustrator just for a few examples. I have no biases that any of these art forms are better than any other, they are just helpful in understanding what type of art each respective artist creates.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
I’ve loved it since I was 3 years old, I just naturally always loved drawing. It’s consistently been one of my absolute favorite activities since I was a small child. I am just naturally drawn to it I guess.
(Pictures below of some paintings by Corinne)
What did you draw and make as a pre-teen child?
Ha! Horses, Lisa Frank characters, I was obsessed with this poster of a Pegasus I won at the county fair when I was 7 or 8 or so, so tons of horses with wings.
Also one of my favorite things was to check out books of animals from the library and draw them from reference. Sometimes I would look at those books where they try to get you to draw out circles and shapes first but I would always skip to the finished animal and try to copy it.
What did you draw and make as a teen?
Vampires, lot’s of vampires.
Song lyrics, musicians I adored and anything with a dramatic bloody romanticism to it.
I was a deeply depressed teenager. I always drew this sinister man’s face over and over again, it really disturbed my mother which I still feel some guilt about till this day.
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
Seeing Mike Diana’s comics for the first time made me realize you can really say whatever you want with your art. I had at times felt like maybe my stuff was too dark or disturbing for anyone to like it.
It was a really awesome feeling to look at drawings that were so incredibly awesome and so fucked up, it helped me to feel ok with the things that I was drawing.
(Pictures below of some art by Corinne)
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
It’s just who I am and what I like to do.
I’ll keep drawing, painting, illustrating and making art as long as I can. It’s the most satisfying thing in my life aside from the relationships I have with my family, friends and boyfriend.
What impact did your formal fine art study have on your life and creative works? – I ask as I know you studied at both the ‘School of the Art Institute of Chicago’ and prior to that at the ‘Massachusetts College of Art’.
Mass Art was so awesome because I got to work some phenomenal teachers. I also met some incredible friends and artists who I am still very close with. I was going to be a painting major initially but I took a Super 8 class my freshman year with Mark Lapore. Mark was an incredible teacher and a really wonderful person, he is sadly no longer with us. That class really changed the whole course of my life. I decided to be a Film/Video Major instead of a painting major.
I worked with another of my favorite teachers of all time at Mass Art, renowned experimental filmmaker Saul Levine. I was so lucky to work with these two brilliant men. Also working in the format of film is what shaped my concept of narrative in art, which helped develop my urge to make comics.
Film is very panel driven and so are comics, I think that one art form ended up feeding the other.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago was also an incredible experience but the two schools are very different. I got my MFA in painting and drawing at SAIC. Again my experience was incredible because of some phenomenal teachers. I also ended up meeting classmates that I became very close friends with. They are all artists whose work I deeply respect and I’m still friends with a number of them to this day.
Mass Art at least at the time felt very grass roots, almost communal. SAIC was my first real introduction to the high art world and all of the political red tape that goes along with that. At the time I attended SAIC narrative and figurative work were very “out.” It seemed everyone was doing either minimal “ugly” Rebecca Morris inspired abstraction or conceptual work. I think at one point one of my classmates even said something to the effect that paintings shouldn’t have ideas.
This was very challenging because I am by nature an artist who is fascinated by the figure, whose work is often narrative and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. So I had a couple of other classmates that I felt like we were in a little troop of misfits. Grad School by nature has trends that fluctuate over the years so to some extent it’s luck of the draw what trends are hot based on what years you happen to attend.
Anyway it was overall a very positive experience and my favorite teachers were Andreas Fischer, Jim Lutes and Richard Hull. Three phenomenal artists I will always feel lucky to have worked with. I was also lucky enough to be a Teaching Assistant for one of my heroes and all time favorite artists Jim Nutt. I hope to someday be a professor at art school; that was one of the main reasons I got my MFA.
(Pictures below of some drawings by Corinne)
Describe the process of producing your art – dot point all o.k.
* Your sketches + comics?
I either start by looking at a reference or completely from my imagination. I usually have an idea that I am trying to translate onto the paper.
I’ve been mainly using Rapidograph India Ink and Winsor and Newton Series 7 sable brushes on Bristol and hot Press 140lb Arches watercolor paper for the past year or so.
I almost always start with a pencil sketch, I keep trying different softness of leads but I always wind up using my favorite, 6b. My favorite erasers are the Artgums. I used to hate them because they’re so crumbly, but I find they do the actual job of erasing the best and they are soft enough they won’t ruin the paper.
When I am doing titles for comics I almost always measure out an under sketch and use a ruler.
Sometimes with the more imaginative works I will just sit down and start drawing, it’s like a stream of consciousness. I am not necessarily trying to render a pre-conceived notion I just draw.
I have a large flat desk in my bedroom with a light and that is where I have been making a majority of my work for the past year or so. I have also worked on the floor and at a slanted drawing desk in the past.
I always like to listen to music while I make art.
* Your paintings?
I usually use my slanted drawing desk for my paintings, but if they are smaller I will work at the flat desk in my bedroom. I work in a very similar way as I described for the drawings and comics but with different materials. Sometimes I begin with a reference, sometimes I don’t.
I’ve painted in oils, acrylics gouache and watercolor.
Acryla Gouache by Holbein is probably me favorite paint. It is incredibly matte and the colors are immensely vibrant, so it scans really well and is good for design work.
Oil painting is so fun and I would love to do more of it, but it is quite involved in terms of the process and has many toxic elements involved like turpentine and potentially dangerous pigments.
Sometimes I like to work large and experimental and messy in which case I will work in my art studio, usually flat on the floor.
Sometimes I like to use spray paint and really drippy paint markers, usually Krinks or Montanas for these types of pieces.
All of the color pieces for Golden Days were kind of a hybrid of drawing and painting. I used India ink and brush for the outlines, except for the very early ones in the series. I used a Rapidograph technical pen for those outlines. The flesh is done with Copic marker and the brightly colored areas are either paint marker, gouache or gel pen.
My favorite paint marker brands are Molotow, Krink and Montana, however I do love the gold oil based Sharpie paint marker. Copics are by far my favorite illustration marker; they are also refillable so even though they are more expensive initially they are more affordable in the long run.
For disposable drawing pens I like the Copic multi-liners the best along with micron and Faber Castell Pitt Pens.
* Your digital art?
99% of my digital art begins as something hand drawn I scan the original drawing and effect the colors and clean it up using Photoshop.
I have an 11”x17” flatbed scanner by Mustek. They make really affordable larger format scanners.
My computer is pretty old so I will have to get a new one at some point.
* Your stickers?
I usually pick one of my favorite recent pieces of art and make a digital file on Photoshop to order stickers.
I use Print Runner and Sticker Mule mostly. But I am always open to hear about other options.
Highs and lows of your recent solo show ‘Golden Days’ held at Adventureland in Chicago?
The show was a big success. I was extremely happy with everything about it. I made the work I showed over the course of about a year. I’m very proud of the pieces I put in the show and feel it is the most mature body of work I have ever produced.
I sold several pieces which is always a fantastic feeling. The gallery was wonderful and I feel lucky to have worked with them. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
The only downside I could see is that I never seem to get noticed by the local art critics. But then again I guess I should be careful what I wish for.
(Pictures below from Corinne’s ‘Golden Days’ solo show)
Odds n Ends
Please describe your experiences growing up in the USA?
I had a great childhood which is something I feel really lucky about.
My parents got divorced when I was three so we left Alaska and my mom moved us in with my grandparents in 1984. So from when I was three to eleven years old I lived with my brother, mother and grandparents in Needham Massachusetts.
I was a happy go lucky kid, and a tomboy. My grandparents were very supportive of my artistic inclinations and always encouraged me to do what I loved.
It was a very loving and supportive environment between my grandparents and my mom looking after us.
My dad passed away when I was eight, he’d been living down in Florida so I didn’t see him very much before he passed away. That was very hard for me to go through at that age and it haunted me for many years. Not long after my father died my grandmother became very sick, she had an illness very much like Lou Gehrig’s disease and slowly lost the use of her limbs and body, her mind being the last thing to go.
My mom and her boyfriend Finbar bought a house in Walpole Massachusetts when I was ten or eleven years old and we all moved in to it in 1991 including my brother and I. Finbar is basically my step-dad, except he and my mother never got married, but they are still together to this day. They just prefer a domestic partnership sans the marriage part. He’s an awesome person, straight off the boat from Ireland, I feel very lucky that my mother picked such a wonderful man to be with. He was a great parental figure for me and I value my friendship with both him and my mother deeply.
Anyway my grandmother passed away when I was 15 and that was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. I am also convinced having to watch her suffer over so many years and experiencing so much death at such a young age is what lead to my severe depression as a teenager. It also largely shaped the artist I am today as the theme of death has always been very prevalent in my work.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
I had a friend in first and second grade named Andrew McCarthy and I had a huge crush on him. I guess I thought he was cute, I dunno he just gave me that feeling of romantic desire, but you know in kid form.
The first celebrity I remember having a crush on was Kiefer Sutherland from his role in Flatliners, hubba hubba.
(Pictures below of the covers of Corinne’s ‘Hate Baby’ comic)
Does sex change everything?
It seems to be the number one force that drives us so I guess it would have to. I make a lot of sexy artwork and occasionally it brings some unwanted attention. Just internet troll types, nothing terrible but it can be pretty awkward.
This is an interesting point because I often wonder if my work would be perceived differently if I was a man.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I had a dream that mushroom cloud looking bomb explosions were going off all over the city. It didn’t look like Chicago, it looked more like how imagine Atlantis might look, a city built kind of hovering over open water.
We found out that a group of rebel children were setting off the bombs, fireballs would shoot out of them long after they had gone off. I was struggling to get dressed, I was in my pajamas in the dream. So I was trying to put on clothes so we could flee.
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
Yes! I used to experiment with different drugs when I was younger, I don’t even drink any more, ha! But I tripped on acid and mushrooms many times. I loved it, the visuals were always my favorite part.
Of course like anyone who has tripped more than once there were a couple of scary moments as well. I remember I took a whole eigth of really strong mushrooms when I was a sophomore at Mass Art so I was probably 19 years old. My mind was so warped I convinced myself the world was going to end, crazy shit.
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
My drawings and paintings, any of my art really. I feel like if people can think of my art when they hear my name I am exactly where I want to be. I guess it won’t really matter when I’m dead, but my ego wants my art to live on. Hopefully I make enough of a footprint upon the world with my art that it can.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
I think they are important to have at least some experience with so you can know what to base your choices on. For some people they can be very dangerous, it is really person to person.
I think they are often used to escape reality and if you need to start escaping reality too frequently it can be a problem.
I do believe we are creatures whose meaning is based on a sum of our experiences, so I don’t’ regret the drug experiences I’ve had by any means. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some incredibly fun times. The one thing I will still get down with is pot, I have loved smoking weed since I was a teenager. But at this point I have even scaled that way back, so it’s something I will do very occasionally.
Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?
I think the band Medea Connection put it best “Work, work, work, eat, sleep, work, die!!!!”
Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?
Ren and Stimpy! The George Liquor Shocker 😉
(Picture below of Corinne’s Ren and Stimpy tribute sex toy)
Who would win in a fight and why: a redneck on his way home from the pub Vs. A gang of teen art punks out on the town?
Hmmm I’ll put my money on the gang of teenage punks purely because that seems more fun visually, as long as the Redneck is some despicable piece of shit and not just some nice hardworking dude trying to take a load off.
(Picture below of the battle in all it’s beauty)
Any collaborations on the horizon?
I do a zine called Bad Touch with my boyfriend, we are both really excited to get started on the 3rd issue.
I was absolutely floored to be asked to have three pages of my new comic strip Honey to be included in Black Eye 3 put out by Rotland Press from Michigan. They are one of my favorite publishers and have printed work by some of my favorite artists, this is really a dream come true for me.
I was also thrilled to be chosen to have my Lemmy Kilmister drawing be included in the Ace of Spades Coloring Book to be put out by Feral House later this year. They are an incredible publishing company who I have the utmost respect for so that is very exciting.
I’ve also been lucky enough to be asked to contribute to multiple anthology zine and comic projects including the upcoming Monster’s Holding Bitches Wes Craven Tribute Zine, APEP Publication’s Mugwump and Puddin Magazine’s third issue.
I’ve also had work published in John Bailey’s Wage Slaves and Josh Bayer’s Suspect Device 4.
Oh! I will have some illustrations published in my friend Mike “McBeardo” McPadden’s upcoming book “Going All the Way: The Ultimate Guide to Teen Movie Comedies of the VHS Era” which is being published by Bazillion Points sometime this summer, 2016.
(Pictures below of some cover art for Corinne’s ‘Bad Touch’ zine – with cover art by Scott R. Miller)
Any major projects you want to hype
My ultimate dream with my comic Hate Baby is to make 10 issues and have it be published by someone other than myself. I am getting started on the 6th issue so hopefully that goal becomes a reality someday.
I just started a new strip called Honey I am very excited about that I will be posting on Fridays. This is more of a one two punch gag sort of strip and I’m having a blast doing it. I will self publish a book of these strips for CAKE, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo that I will be tabling at June 11th and 12th 2016. CAKE is one of my absolute favorite events of the year, so many talented artists and truly wonderful patrons who really care about the alternative comic’s community in Chicago.
- Corinne Halbert – site
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