Nick Rose: The Awakening Of A Dark Artist

“Slowly I was becoming happy and took steps to reclaim who I was. It was at that point I realized that I was born to be an artist and without it I would self destruct…”

Nick Rose has been penned as the “The King of Scream” and “The Dark Artist” by  former media interviewers and that has only been the beginning.

Nick has been interviewed 13 times in the year 2010 by almost every top horror publications in the business as well as two popular publications. Recently he has worked out agreements to work with some of Hollywood’s top horror movie stars.

His art portfolio credits include 300 published covers and illustrations-everything from erotic Romance to the darkest of horror he is most known for.

Rose’s reputation has grown to the artistic status as one of the best portrait artists in the world, and continues to with many celebrities; including portrait works of them, their family, or movie roles they starred in.

Mr. Rose was trained by Masters and is well on the way to being one himself. His original oil paintings and pencil works often sell before they are even completed as his work is known to be the most sought after work in the Dark Art industry.

Despite the fame, Nick Rose is noted for helping his fellow artist to learn and does as much work as he can to help with children’s charity organizations. He truly is one of the greats in the art world, and in his words, “I’m just getting started” and as he would also say, “May the Darkness Comfort You.”


Where were you born and raised and how did your childhood effect your career path as an artist ?

 For most people that would be an easy question, but for me, it is not. I was born in Charlotte, NC and proud of that, even though I live close to Detroit now. We just moved into a new home recently and I have really grown to love Michigan. There is so much rich creative history here.

The question about my childhood is not an easy one to answer without really getting into some very Dark area’s, so please let me sum it up with this. As a young child I had a very strong and vivid imagination. I loved horror movies and was glued to the TV or movie screens every chance I got to watch a Monster or Fantasy movie. Like most kids at that time, I was a huge comic book fan and my favorite superhero at that time was Spiderman, although these days I favor Batman more. But the sad part of it, I was also surrounded by real life monsters as well. Not everyone, but the people who had the most control and influence over me.

There is no doubt that my love for monster/fantasy movies, books and comics are the main things that inspired me.  Being raised up in such a Dark household, my only escape was these things.  As I got older I wanted to be a comic book artist and started drawing because of that. That was when I was in the Army. When I lived at home I was never encouraged or motivated to draw. That is a huge regret I have now. Most artists start when they are very young. I didn’t pick up pencils and brushes until I was 20 years old.

Can you remember your first Ah-hah moment and when you knew that art was your passion?

This is going to sound strange, but yes I did. Although I started drawing in 1978 and had my first published piece in 1981, I didn’t realize that is “who I was” until 2000. In 1995 I quit drawing because I believed at that time that nothing good would ever come from it. I was making money as a commercial artist and a lot of it, but I was with a woman who spent it quicker than I could make it; putting me under constant stress and in a state of panic. I had also turned to drugs at that point of my life  and that was a lot of money down the drain as well. In my mind my art had brought all these bad things to me, which wasn’t true; I did that on my own.  But we all know that it is hard to look in the mirror and realize that the person looking back at you is the source of your pain, anguish and problems.

At that point I packed up all of my art supplies up, threw a lot of it away, went back to installing carpet and started drinking like I was trying to drown myself.

I did this for 5 years, and then one day I finally realized the reason I was doing this was because I was miserable. I had found another woman, married her, and she was making my life even more unbearable by telling me I was Satan because I liked Dark things.

That was the point I unpacked my art things, bought a new drawing table and light and started drawing and painting again.  Slowly I was becoming happy and took steps to reclaim who I was. It was at that point I realized that I was born to be an artist and without it I would self destruct.


What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome as a struggling horror artist?

Money. For any artist to make a living being an artist takes a lot of time growing and learning. It don’t come easy my friends especially when you pick a subject that has a limited following like horror – it is much harder.

It is a growing market, but like everything else, people who have the same dream flood it. Traditional art is being bypassed for much cheaper digital art because it can be done faster and not nearly the talent or effort.This isn’t a shoot at digital artist. I have used it about 50% of the time the last 3 years just so I could keep pace with the deadlines.

For instance I did 18 paintings for a book 2 years ago called Darc Karnivale and I had 4 months to do the paintings. That meant I had to turn out a painting every 6 days with no days off. On top of that I had to deal with the writers and Art Director wanting changes in their particular painting. I hope your using the cover I did for the book as one of the samples. The icing on the cake was that I got pneumonia twice during those 4 months. If I hadn’t done that assignment digitally, I would have never been able to do the award winning job I did on it.




Who were some of the most influential people in your life and who molded you into the artist you are today?

Madison and the children are my heart and soul and the light in my life. Then there is Tilly Rivers. Not only is she one of my closest friends she is also my lawyer. Not only do Madison and her give me outstanding advice; Tilly gets rid of the Jokers in short order. I get a lot of Con-artists that approach me for one reason or another.  She makes sure every deal I sign is on the up and up.

In my life as a whole, I would have to say Daniel Horne and Todd Lockwood. They were 2 of the 3 Masters that trained and worked with me. This last year Catherine Jeffery Jones has inspired me in a whole new way, helping me to see art with a new set of eyes. I cried at the news of her death recently. I didn’t know her very well, but what little I did know had a profound effect on me as an artist that I think people will be seeing in my future works.

Where do you find ideas and inspiration for your masterpieces?

By no means do I consider my works Masterpieces. I still have years to go before and if I reach that level. But to answer your question, up until now I have made my living as an Illustrator. That means that 80% of my existing work was an assignment for a publisher. In those cases, either they tell me what they want or I have to base the painting on a story or book.


As of next week or when folks read this I will be making my living as an Artist. That means I will be doing my own idea’s and no one else’s anymore. I am going to be working on letting my work take on a life of its own instead of  keeping everything so “Tight”.  This is where I am talking about Catherine Jones work inspiring me to try new things and to grow. I think it is safe to say that a year after this interview is published people will be able to look at my newest works and say “Wow, now I get it” or at least I hope so.


Why do you use a pen name?

Two reasons.  The first is that my family name is Johns. With the exception of my younger sister’s side of the family my other siblings and mother where ashamed of the type of work I did. My older brother, a southern Baptist Preacher, thought I was possessed. That is one of the things I am glad I left behind when I left the Bible Belt to move north.  I felt like if they were so ashamed of me then I would use a name that I liked better.

I have always had a deep love for roses and in ways I have always seen myself as a thorny bud changing into something of beauty. That is why my blog is called Every Rose Has Its Thorns   If your readers want to be there and see the new artist that is coming. You will see it and read about it there. You can also find links there to me on all the social networks.

The second reason is privacy. A lot of the reason we make the recent move is because the fans can cross boundaries without really meaning to sometimes, and in some cases, certain people can be mental. I don’t want my family to have to deal with those people, so…


What if your favorite type of medium for creating?

Without a doubt: pencil and oils. The real thing-not digital. From this point on 85% of my paintings will be done in them. On certain things digital can be fun and I will do that as well, but on nothing I consider a piece of Art. What I mean is that even though I am not taking on commissions any more, I still have things to do for a commercial market. Like books, DVD’s and so on that I we will be publishing in the future. For doing things like that, graphic art and digital is perfect and it will be for my company not someone else’s.


Do you enjoy haunted houses and/or scary movies/books? Which is your favorite?

Of course! I love to be scared. I love them all. I listen to audio books every day. 70% of the time they are horror novels or stories. I have a huge collection of over 500 audio books. I have about 10,000 DVD’s and about 80% of those are horror movies or TV series. I even have a massive collection of Horror CD’s of Movie soundtracks, TV soundtracks, or bands like Midnight Syndicate. It would be impossible to pick a favorite in any medium. I love them all.


 What services as an dark artist do you offer haunted house owners, horror professionals, or halloween junkies?

 Fans can buy prints from my blog and original paintings through me at My originals sell usually before they are even done- if I choose to sell them. I am also going to be working on T-shirts and other merchandise in the future. Look to my blog for that info.


How about some helpful tips and advice for other dark artists in the horror/haunt industry?

The best advice I can give you is to work hard-very hard. Learn all you can. The internet is full of links and videos that help you in your journey to becoming a professional.  Always keep your ego in check. If you don’t, you will self-destruct as I have seen so many do. Always remember you are never as good as your ego tells you are. Listen to the Pro’s and Art Directors when they are trying to help you.  Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeves and let you mouth overload your talent.

Anything worth having takes time and hard work. If you think any different then you are shooting yourself in the foot from the start.  If your motive is to be famous instead of being the best artist you can be, it will show and you will be neither.

It is possible to get rich in this business, but that is only for about 2% of Artist alive. The point is- if you think you are going to make a good living at it- think again. If you decide to follow your dreams, then know that you do it for love and passion alone.  But to me that is the payoff. I love what I do and I am lucky enough that my family gets by through a tough recession and so far we haven’t had to go without.

Peace and Love my friends. “May the Darkness Comfort You”

Find Nick Here:



Slide Show Of Artwork