Paranormal Artist Profile: Kristen Puckett
Kristen Puckett is an Appalachian folk artist whose work is a study in discord—whimsical, yet macabre; relaxed, yet complicated.
"I view it as a revival of antiquity," she told us. "A combination of the feelings, emphases, and techniques I like in artwork from the Minoan, Romanesque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau eras, as well as the Golden Age of Illustration. The art I create is meant to tell a story, look nice at a glance, but also be more rewarding if inspected."
It’s no surprise that Kristen has such a predilection for storytelling, considering where she grew up.
"Growing up along the Ohio River, there was always a ghost or monster story to hear about—local, or about somewhere across the river," she said. "Featured books in my middle school were volumes of Haunted Ohio, which introduced me to the paranormal (I was never allowed to watch scary movies); I was terrified but in love with its horrendous illustrations and stories.
"After reading every Goosebumps and Fear Street book in the library, I looked for any spooky story to read, until I discovered cryptozoology," Kristen continued. "I had heard of the Pope Lick Monster and Mothman before, in passing, but reading books about them opened up a whole new world. I've always found history and horror fascinating, and often the paranormal/cryptozoological encompasses those two interests."
Kristen lists her favorite monsters as the Snallygaster, "because it is an interesting concept and a lot of fun to illustrate," and Mothman, "because there is so much history and documentation associated with it," but has a soft spot for Appalachian tales involving paranormal pooches, too.
"[Two of my favorite stories are] the history of Snarly Yows—which are a sort of paranormal/cryptid combo—and a specific paranormal entity from Barboursville, which is said to appear as a man holding the chain leashes of vicious dogs; allegedly, he follows those he encounters home, haunting them there until they leave," she said.
The monster she encountered in real-life, however, was the stuff of nightmares.
"One night, I had a dream that a thin, horned, eyeless figure peeked from behind my bedroom door," Kristen said. "In a swift movement, its face loomed over mine, whispering horrible things into my ear; I knew it was a dream, but couldn't wake up. I don't remember ever experiencing such an intense feeling of fear. Finally jerking awake, I realized I was shakily crying and whispering a prayer, my throat hoarse. My husband was deep in sleep, so I turned around and, surprisingly, fell back to sleep easily. I didn't tell anyone about it because I was embarrassed by how scared a short dream made me (my husband usually makes fun of me for such things), and because I simply didn't want to think about it anymore. A month later, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night, thrashing around and yelling; after shaking him awake, he said he had a bad dream and refused to go back to sleep or talk about it. The next morning, he eerily recounted the dream I also had a month before."
Perhaps it was her preference for high strangeness that opened Kristen to the horrid, faceless stranger. She told us that she most enjoys paranormal subjects "that are extremely horrifying or extremely absurd" because "they are the most memorable!"
They certainly are.
Kristen left us with some advice that we certainly took to heart; recognizing that too much time in the dark can leave you blind.
"Consume as much media as you can across other genres in your free time; its nice to have a break from the darkness, you'll have new ideas to incorporate into your work, and you'll be refreshed," she said. "It also doesn't hurt to branch out into different subjects or mediums; you never know how it can relate or inspire your main body of work."
You can find links to Kristen’s social media and website in her entry in our art portal.
And make sure to head to Kickstarter to back her book about paranormal, cryptid, and folk entities from West Virginia.
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