I sat down for an interview with Satanist 1° Druciferi Excelsi from the Church of Satan.
Quill: Would you prefer I refer to your real name in the interview or your Druciferi Excelsi pseudonym? Or maybe something else entirely?
Druciferi Excelsi: For my own security, I would prefer to use a pseudonym. You can use this one, Druciferi Excelsi. I’ll probably be talking about my other name (Mister 47) at some point anyway, because I use that name to produce art.
Q: Okay. Druciferi Excelsi it is, then. Is the art you produce as Mister 47 different than what you’re doing under your other pseudonym?
DE: The use of the pseudonym does pertain to what type of art I create. Clients, particularly those who work for bigger publications, tend to pigeon hole artists. So if they see me produce a darker piece, but they want kittens shitting rainbows, they might go to someone else. So I use different names for different types of work. I produce stuff more closely aligned with my own personal vision as Mister 47. When I need to produce something for another purpose, I’ll use another name, be it my real name or something else. Much like Satan, I’m a man with many names. 😉
Q: I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I can absolutely see someone getting sort of typecast in the art they do or maybe not getting a particular commission they wanted if the customer doesn’t appreciate another side to their artwork. So it’s safe to say that your pseudonyms don’t cross over?
DE: Most don’t. That is correct. This pseudonym, Druciferi Excelsi, is the one I use to discuss Satanism with the masses, so I may allow works to blend with this name and Mister47, because they are serving a similar purpose, but in the outside world where I have to move as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, none of those pseudonyms will ever be representative of what I do as Druciferi Excelsi/Mister 47. And that is entirely to avoid pigeon holing or accidentally outing myself.
Q: Totally understandable. So your Satanic works fall under Druciferi Excelsi. Is there special meaning to you for selecting that particular pseudonym or did you just like the aesthetic of it?
DE: I had run into a situation where a previous pseudonym was being used by someone else, and it was causing confusion. I needed to change and evolve, ever forward. Many years ago, a friend dubbed me “Drucifer” which is a play on my real name and Lucifer. And there’s that line often used in Satanic ritual “In nomine de nostri Satanas, Luciferi excelsi”. So I blended “Drucifer” with “Luciferi excelsi” and came up with Druciferi Excelsi. It seemed right, taking something I always was, integrating it with something I became, and making it new.
Q: Now that you mention the play on your real name, I don’t know how I missed that before. So tell me about the Satanic aesthetic of the art that you’re creating. Do you have any art that you’d like me to feature along with this interview? If so, I’ll post as much or as little as you like.
DE: I can share some things to include in the article later. Right now I am working on a project for another member, but I can’t say anything about it yet. I actually have quite a few projects lined up since Conclave. But I can tell you about other things I do. Right now the most popular of my personal projects is My Little Baphy. It started as a prototype in college, but I developed it further. It started out as a juxtaposition of something inherently perceived as cute, and something inherently perceived as “evil”. I make these super cute looking goat characters, and grant them one of the Infernal Names. Right now I have Baphy and Mephi. Before it is finished, there will be a series of nine. We both understand the significance of the number nine.
DE: My passion is comics. Comics are what made me want to be an artist. I have a couple comic projects on the back burner for right now, but I definitely want to move them forward as soon as possible. One is a web series I’d done in the past called “Pandora’s Soap Box” which utilizes a clown caricature of myself making social commentary and observations. Another I am still kicking around is called “JC and Stan: The college years” and it in many ways draws from, and even parodies, Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I like humor, so I like to draw it from wherever I can.
DE: No pun intended on that “draw” line. :p
Q: I’ve definitely seen you post Baphy and Mephi on social media. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other seven come out. Let’s talk about those for a moment; what are you using to create them? What is your process?
DE: That is a great question! I buy blank vinyl bases from a vendor, it’s a very simple cartoon style bovine body, and I build over it with Sculpee and wire. I like the vinyl because it’s very heat resistant and Sculpee bakes at a low temperature in comparison to, say, potter’s clay. After I build and bake them, I paint them to look how I’ve chosen each to look, then I treat them with a layer of triple thick semi-gloss to serve as a protective layer and also give it a nice sheen.
DE: What also makes the bases fun is the heads move and are removable. So if you wanted you could give Mephi Baphy’s head, etc.
Q: I didn’t realize that was Sculpee with a gloss over it. The glossed look reminded me of ceramic classes I had taken during school, so I thought you were painting over a ceramic body that you fired in a kiln. How do you decide on a paint style for each Baphy? Have you thought of any other names for your My Little Baphy line?
DE: I go through a concept phase for each one. Baphy was the first, and obviously modeled after Baphomet. His design is also the simplest. With each subsequent installation I try to give that character unique features that also challenge my skills as an artist. My formal training is in illustration, sculpture is something I picked up on my own. As for the names, I have four so far. Baphy, Mephi (Mephistopheles), Beli (Belial), and Luci (Lucifer). I haven’t settled on the other five yet.
Q: Do you go through your concept phase with the full vinyl, Sculpee, wire, gloss, and baking process or are you sketching it out and using markers or paints or something like that?
DE: I draw them first. If I need to, I’ll do a color study first with markers and drawings. With Baphy and Mephi, the colors were off the cuff. With Prince’s recent passing, I’d like to add that the purple I use for Mephi is Purple Rain.
Q: I love that you went with purple for Prince. That’s an awesome tribute to an amazingly talented artist, and on something that’s a personal project to yourself. Do you have plans to create duplicate Baphys and sell them at all, or are you going to tuck them away in a safe place in your lair?
DE: They are for sale. I make them to order, due to the price of the bases. Right now a single toy is $60, and a pair is $100. There is more information about that on my Facebook page The Art of Mister 47. I’m still building an online store, and rebuilding my website, with my own domain name. It’s slow moving as I have paid commissions to finish, and when people pay they have my utmost priority. Though I do also keep one of each for myself.
Q: Start to finish, how long would you say it takes for you to create a single Baphy if you already have all of the construction materials readily at hand? How did you source a vendor for the vinyl base? The supplier to artist relationship has always fascinated me, since my own art has been as simple as putting pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard.
DE: The project started as a concept in college, we were provided a miniature version of the bases I use now. So when I moved on, I kept buying them from that vendor. I’m trying to contact someone beyond customer service at their business to negotiate buying power and reduce my cost, since I could easily buy volume on these if the price is right. As far as process goes, so long as I’m not waiting on supplies, it probably takes about 3 hours to build one, and about 6-8 hours to paint and gloss one. Due to my busy schedule, and sometimes needing to order supplies, I do ask for 3-6 weeks turnaround time on orders from placing to receiving the items.
Q: Nine to eleven hours to produce a single Baphy, wow. So this company is one that you’ve gone through for a long time out of a long term working relationship. Let’s hope a little lesser magic will go a long way in securing you some better prices on your supplies. You mentioned your passion for comic books earlier. I’ve always been a big comic fan myself, the Punisher being my all-time favorite comic book character. How have comics or comic book culture influenced your art other than getting you started down that path?
DE: I’ve been heavily influenced by artists like Jhonen Vasquez, Todd McFarland, and Frank Miller. Spawn is what motivated me to be an artist, the stylized drawing I do for Pandora’s Soap Box and kooky 4th wall antics are drawn from Vasquez, and I’ve worked on some noir style stuff in the past inspired by Miller’s use of super contrasting blacks and whites. I’m also a Punisher fan, but I’m Team Bats 100%. I favor the anti-hero. But I really like Batman because he doesn’t like to kill. I find leaving an enemy broken and battered far more favorable to killing them. It prolongs the suffering.
Q: I always loved Jhonen Vasquez as well. I don’t know how many times I went through JTHM and Squee when I was younger. I have a lot of love for Batman as well, especially the intelligent side of Bruce Wayne and how he’s a great detective, but without killing his enemies and no matter how many times they go back to Arkham it always seems like they come back to haunt him again. I can understand Frank Castle’s frustration with a justice system that is corrupt and owned by the very people he’s fighting against. One thing that really appeals to me about them both is that they aren’t “super” heroes, they’re just men with skills, with resources, and with a driving purpose. What can you tell us about Pandora’s Soap Box?
DE: Pandora’s Soap Box is a web comic I created as, well, a soapbox. Lol. It started out as a bit piece with no real established characters. I would just draw shorts with one or two panels and a punchline. At some point, it became more of a ‘slice of life’ series in that many of the subjects of scrutiny were from my day to day experience, and I represented myself through a cartoon clown caricature, as well as a caricature of my “normal” self. Think Fight Club, but neither character is imaginary. The clown caricature is the more cynical, anti-social, blunt aspect of myself while the other character is more grounded in reason. I recently learned the admin of the hosting site where I housed Pandora passed, so my online archives are mostly gone. I have a few on my current machine, but most are on my Mac drive, and I need a new Mac. I’m planning on reviving it once I can work out hosting issues, and possibly printing an annual each year, collecting the episodes into a single print source.
Q: Do you feel that by splitting your personality into different characters in the web comic that it helped you to work out anything that was on your mind at the time? I guess what I’m getting at is: did you find the web comic to be therapeutic in any kind of ways that you wouldn’t have expected?
DE: It was certainly therapeutic. It was/is an outlet for my social observations. It is called “Pandora’s Soap Box” after all, lol. That was my intent when I started the series initially. I was super frustrated with my projects at college, because they were all boring assignments and none comics related. So I started doing this as a side project on top of the tons of credit hours worth of stuff I was already doing to have a release from everything else. For me it was similar to how South Park is for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, a place to bash stupidity, pretentiousness, and other forms of annoyance.
Q: People also tend to let a lot of things fly under the context of something being a comic or cartoon that they wouldn’t fly in the “real world”, in terms of political correctness. South Park has certainly always been pushing boundaries as far as the dialogue of what can and should be considered free speech or even art in some cases. Not that a Satanist necessarily concerns themselves with stepping on any toes, but can you think of any particular subjects you tackled on your web comic that may have ruffled some feathers?
DE: Oh, absolutely. I was giving a presentation in one of my classes for some professional design stuff, business cards, post cards, giveaways, etc. And I was giving my presentation for the class. One of my proposed concepts did utilize a custom baph I designed. While I was giving my presentation, I was interrupted by a girl who said, “Because you like SATAN?” I let it slide during the presentation. But that night I went home and drew an episode of Pandora where my clown was doing that exact same thing, only when it got to that part of the conversation, instead of letting it slide, his retort was “Well, nobody ever faults you for being a bitch, so why don’t you shut the fuck up and let me finish my presentation?” and some of my classmates saw it. I got tons of hate mail on Facebook. It was great! 😀 I also did a little blasphemous piece that ruffled some feathers. I drew a single panel short when it was still in that phase of a pilot and Jesus in the cockpit of a plane. Jesus was freaking out because he can’t fly a plane and the pilot gave him a dirty look and said “You have got to be the worst co-pilot I’ve ever had”.
Q: I can’t get the image of Dana Carvey as SNL’s Church Lady out of my mind. “Could it be SATAN?” So let’s talk process. How does one create a web comic? Getting a domain and hosting aside, what kind of software are you using? Are you using a stylus as an input device rather than a mouse? Or are you storyboarding and drawing everything out by hand and then scanning it and posting it?
DE: I work entirely digitally. I was working with Adobe programs on a Macbook for a while. But shortly after college, I was rooming with some assholes who destroyed it, with liquid damage (the one thing not covered by Apple Care) and never coughed up the $3,000 for me to replace it. Now I work on a Chromebook that I’ve hacked to run a Linux partition and I utilize similar open source programs: GIMP (Photoshop), Inkscape (Illustrator), and Scribus (InDesign). It works and gets the job done. But I miss the sophistication of Adobe programs. I use a stylus and tablet to draw it all digitally and then upload it to a host site.
Q: Was learning those Adobe suites part of your college curriculum or did you teach yourself? Are there any specific software features of the Adobe suite that you miss when you’re using the open source programs? How does it limit you as you press forward with the Chromebook after your Macbook decided to have a drink?
DE: I did learn them as part of my education, yes. I converted completely from traditional media to digital my junior year of college. As far as features I miss: LiveTrace. It’s a function in Illustrator where it will trace anything and convert it to vector images. I would do all my line work in Photoshop, then import it into Illustrator and LiveTrace it to give it a real clean look, then color it. I also miss the mixer brush of Photoshop. It would allow you to mix colors together, the same way an artist does with a paint palette. The Chromebook set up doesn’t really hinder me, these programs are great (and free!). They’re just not quite as refined/sophisticated as Adobe software. I’ve also learned a lot about ‘rooting’, the programming language used in Linux for installing/upgrading the software.
Q: That Adobe quality does come at a high cost. Sometimes I get a random inspiration to try to learn a new skill, and I thought I’d take up digital art since I used to do a lot of traditional art through honors classes in Middle and High School. I rushed to the Internet to research Adobe Photoshop, and I remember seeing the license fees and thinking, “Ehhh, maybe I don’t need to learn this after all.” I’ve never been the sort of person to download a torrent or pirate software or anything like that. I can definitely see the appeal of going open source so long as it doesn’t cripple your ability to create the kinds of work that you want to create. So you’re just using your mouse and keyboard when you’re working rather than drawing freehand with some kind of stylus input device?
DE: Adobe licenses are expensive, unless you’re in college. I got the Adobe Premium Suite (one step down from the Master Suite) on a student discount for less than $400. I work with a stylus and tablet, so I still draw. I could never do it with a mouse/trackpad. That’s hell.
Q: Do you have a link to the type of stylus and tablet you’re using? In case any readers are interested in trying it out for themselves.
Q: They must be getting more popular. You didn’t have any real issues getting it to work on your Linux partition? Pretty much just plug-and-play?
DE: Yep. Linux houses drivers for most tablets natively, I just plugged it in, adjust some settings in GIMP and I was off.
Q: Linux sure has come a long way in the past ten years. I remember trying to use Debian and Ubuntu a while back and having a hard time getting a lot of my peripherals to work.
DE: Linux is definitely a great OS and much easier to use than it used to be. It’s funny you mention Ubuntu, because that’s the Linux system I run on my Chromebook.
Q: I’m pretty sure Ubuntu is still the most popular flavor of Linux for home users these days. Its availability and marketing through a lot of publications have really made it take off. Druciferi, it has been really great talking to you about your work! We can do this again any time you have something new you want to talk about or just want me to help promote something you’re working on.
DE: Thank you, sir! It was a pleasure getting to sit down and speak with you about what it is I am doing! I’ll definitely be back anytime you’ll have me! HS!