• Lilith Starr

Satanic Artists Speak, Part One


For many, the Satanic path includes creating artwork. As Satanism is an individualistic practice, art can offer one way to fully realize one's self-expression. Satanic artists can draw on the rich symbolism of Satanism, the occult, pop culture, and many other sources in order to create something new and thought-provoking.

Art can be a meditative process, a way to work through mental illness or other issues and challenges, an act of rebellion, a way to help others think in new directions, a part of an ongoing life practice of Satanism and more. You don't have to be a professional painter, musician, sculptor or writer to make art. Many times it is the process of creation itself which is the most meaningful to the creator.

I encourage everyone to contribute to the larger Satanic discourse by sharing their art with others or with the public. Since art is such an important part of Satanic iconry for belief, the more art we can add to that discourse, the richer the body of Satanic imagery will become.

In an effort to explore the relationship between Satanism and artistic endeavor, I asked several artists to talk about their work and how Satanism informs it. Here are our conversations.

Artist name: Dice Nymphe

Q: What artistic medium(s) do you work in?

A: Primarily, I work with pen and ink, but I also work with oil.

Q: What or who are some of your biggest artistic influences?

A: Personal practices, mental illness, and real life events. A lot of what I do is heavily inspired on a whim, while meditating, exploring outdoors, dealing with an episode, or from a political movement taking place. You’ll see an abundance of eyeballs and hands in the work that I do, those are from a desire to feel human during my schizophrenic episodes.

Q: What role does Satanic philosophy play in your life? Do you consider yourself a Satanist, an ally, or do you simply use Satanic elements in your art when you feel inspired to do so?

A: Satanic philosophy ties in fairly closely with my own personal beliefs, and has left me in a bit of a teeter on my own personal “label.” Whereas most of my peers refer to me as a Satanist, I still strongly refer to my own self as simply Pagan. But that’s the beauty of Satanism, and Paganism, and most philosophies, religions, and beliefs; they all intersect. So, yes, I am a Satanist, though I solely call myself Pagan. And I know both Paganism and Satanism show through in my artwork.

Q: What does Satanism mean to you?

A: To me, Satanism is expression of the self, despite how others try to mold you. It’s staying true to you, and fighting for others to do the same. In a world of conformity, class molding, and brainwashing, being you is the most Satanic, and you, thing anyone can do. Our society forces us into these molds, causing a lot of us to lose aspects of ourselves, and it causes a lot of personal and mental harm. What better way to embrace Satanism than to rebel against our society and be the truest you you can be?

Q: What Satanic themes do you explore with your art?

A: A lot of the imagery in my art is in relation to embracing your faults, embracing all aspects of nature, and speaking out against “legal” abuse. The biggest Satanic theme I explore, in everything that I do, is Rebellion. Society says we’re broken if we’re ill, so my art embraces our illness. Society kills nature, so we can continue our empire of termites, so I bring in aspects of both life and death found in nature. Society kills us, society tries to break us, society tries to control us, so I call them out and frame them in their true forms. I’m not afraid to speak out and fight for the self, fight for nature, and fight for human rights. So, that’s why I believe that my art is an act of rebellion, and highly Satanic in nature because of so. Praise be the rebel. Fit no mold, and carve your own life.

Q: Let's talk about your featured piece. What Satanic elements did you incorporate into this piece, and why?

A: ”Witches Mark” is by far my most Satanic piece, and not just because of the imagery used in it, but because of the personal meaning I’ve given to it, and the personal meaning others have given to it. Witches Mark embraces the symbol of the black snake─as we all know, a snake is commonly paired with Lucifer. But that snake has a double meaning, and for me is a symbol of endearment through hardship. A representation of self-love and compassion. Being honest and true with one’s self. Which ties into my Pagan beliefs, and that of Satanic Philosophy, quite well. It’s a highly personal piece, that I may go more into depth on a later note, but it is by far one of my favorites that I’ve done.

Q: What challenges did you have to deal with in making this piece?

A: Physically: the background. It’s all stippling, and took me well over a day to accomplish. Talk about the hand cramps─that was intense. But, the rest of it just sort of flowed fairly easily. Mentally: it made me really look at myself in a manner I didn’t know was possible. It took a lot of tears and emotional understanding to create this piece.

Q: What would you like audiences to take away from it?

A: I don’t think there’s any direct message I’d want them to take on. I’m at least hoping that there’s a personal interpretation of the piece, and that it’s as appreciated by others as it is by me. But if they were to get any message out of it, knowledge and endearment would be a direction I’d hope for.

Q: Are you open about your Satanism? If so, how do you feel that might affect the reception of your art?

A: Very much so, as I’ve said previously, it ties in fairly directly with my own personal beliefs as a Pagan. It has definitely made it harder to be looked at in a more serious light as an artist. At least outside of groups surrounding individualism that appreciates darker context. So, outside of the Goth, Punk, or Witch scene, my work gets overlooked often. But, ya know, it’s not for everyone. I’ll bring them whiskey, when they’d rather have wine.

10. Any tips for aspiring Satanic artists?

Don’t stop creating. Inspiration is everywhere. Your work is not mediocre, it is a piece of you, and it is loved and sought after. Embrace every direction that your work takes you, it’s all pieces of you that you’re discovering. You have a whole community that believes in you, and supports you.

You can find Dice's art at: https://citystreetvomit.bigcartel.com/

Artist name: SM Mannix

Q: What artistic medium(s) do you work in?

A: It is very trendy right now to call oneself a “multimedia artist” but I prefer to say I’m a classically trained Renaissance man. I’ve been drawing, painting, and making sculptures since I was a child and love to work in those traditional mediums. Over the past decade I went back to college to study graphic design and illustration, where I learned to use digital media, and discovered I love to make vector graphics. Lately I’ve been teaching myself to draw on a digital tablet in Photoshop, which is such a different tactile experience it feels like learning a new skill.

Q: What or who are some of your biggest artistic influences?

A: William S. Burroughs inspired me to push boundaries and find beauty in dark taboo subject matter. I’ve always been drawn to the highly stylized macabre work of Edward Gorey and H.P. Lovecraft. Jim Henson’s work ethic, creativity, and boundless optimism made me want to be an artist and work in any medium that helps me realize a specific vision. Particularly his TV series The Storyteller and the films The Dark Chrystal and Labyrinth, because they showed me how world creating is intertwined with good story telling.

Q: What role does Satanic philosophy play in your life? Do you consider yourself a Satanist, an ally, or do you simply use Satanic elements in your art when you feel inspired to do so?

A: Art and religion are strongly interconnected for me, probably a result of being raised Catholic and growing up seeing art in church and the religious themes present in the work of the European masters. As a Satanist, I feel a strong compulsion to use my artistic talents to both express my religious convictions and to challenge and inspire others, from comedic depictions of Jesus and Satan as an exploration of sibling rivalry on a cosmic level, to writing and illustrating horror stories with strong occult overtones. I like to play with the tension between absurdist humor and discomforting realism.

Q: What does Satanism mean to you?

A: I do not remember a time when I did not “know Satan” as a friendly character. I first expressed my allegiance to Satan when I was about five. My kindergarten teacher asked us to think about where we wanted to be most and then make a drawing. I drew a bull-headed Devil and His wife, sitting on their thrones, surrounded by stalagmites, stalactites, and jolly little demons. When questioned, I explained that Heaven will be full of my family members, and that would be much too noisy, but, in Hell, it would just be me and the Devil, and we could enjoy the quiet. My family were kind and loving, but they were loud joyful people, and even then I knew I was of a different temperament.

That anecdote pretty well encapsulates my perspective on Satanism. It is not about being evil, or rejecting goodness. It is about knowing yourself and being completely honest about who you are.

Q: What Satanic themes do you explore with your art?

A: I think there is something to that line from Keats about Truth and Beauty, but, as a Satanist my conception of what represents those ideals is far from conventional. Dark humor is a wonderful tool for taking a grim truth and expressing it in a beautiful way. Erotica, and hedonism in general, are very important to me. I can’t say I like Tom of Finland’s content, but I have a deep admiration for his talent and unique ability to take very dark taboo subject matter and make it appealing to a market well beyond the very niche underground gay scenes that inspired him. I’m also very interested in occult symbolism and Satanic iconography. The great ongoing project that I hope to finish within my lifetime is a Satanic grimoire in the style of an illuminated manuscript.

Q: Let's talk about your featured piece. What Satanic elements did you incorporate into this piece, and why?

A: Sadly, my big book of Satan stuff is still many years away from completion. So, while I could talk endlessly about what I want it to be, it is a poor example of what I do.

I recently completed the logo used by the Satanic Underground Network, out of Las Vegas, which was a fun very explicitly Satanic commission.

But, if I have to choose one, I am most pleased with the Baphomet idol I made for the DC/MD/VA Friends of the Satanic Temple. A little less than a foot tall, this zaftig figure of Elphias Levy’s goat headed pataphysical entity conceals a penlight which illuminates the lantern that springs from between its horns and makes the eyes glow red.

Q: What challenges did you have to deal with in making this piece?

A: The biggest challenge with this piece has to have been the materials. Designing the figure was simple enough, and making the current version was just a matter of applying skills I picked up in art school. However, I could only afford to build it out of Sculpey which is a wonderful product for what it is, but relatively delicate. Ultimately, to really consider the project finished I want to have it cast in porcelain or metal, possibly replacing the electric light with an actual oil lamp.

Q: What would you like audiences to take away from it?

A: The simple joy of having an idol of the infamous entity who is the mascot of our religion that includes a functional “illuminatus” springing up from between its horns.

Q: Are you open about your Satanism? If so, how do you feel that might affect the reception of your art?

A: At least since the disturbing ascendance of the +ian Right after 9/11, I’ve been increasingly very open about my Satanism. The more I heard the phrase “This is a +ian nation,” then the more I heard myself saying “if those people are +ians, I must be a Satanist” which became a driving theme behind my literary and visual arts projects going forward. Early on this was a source of some anxiety, but, since I became involved with the Satanic Temple I definitely believe I’ve connected with a community of folks who truly appreciate what I do artistically.

Q: Any tips for aspiring Satanic artists?

A: Seek out and ingratiate yourself to the broader Satanic community. The real secret to being a (commercially) successful artist really has nothing to do with hard work, or talent (not that they don’t count, just not as much as you might think). The secret is connecting with the people who are going to appreciate and support your art.

Artist name: Magi

Q: What artistic medium(s) do you work in?

A: Oil Painting, Video and Performance Art.

Q: What or who are some of your biggest artistic influences?

A: Sergei Parajanov, Remedios Varo, Hieronymous Bosch, Johfra Bosschart, Lady Frieda Harris, Martha Graham, Mary Wigman, Otto Dix, Ingmar Bergman, Edvard Munch, Aleister Crowley, Odd Nerdrum.

Q: What role does Satanic philosophy play in your life? Do you consider yourself a Satanist, an ally, or do you simply use Satanic elements in your art when you feel inspired to do so?

A: As a performance artist I will embrace a Satanic aesthetic heightening the effect sometimes with Black Metal music. I am inspired by the unknown - such as the foundation of Catholic rituals and twisting them in performance as if invoking a demon, and it has been that the temperature drops during such a performance.

My paintings center around the Tarot where invent my own symbology therein. Tarot is by default identified in some religious groups as Satanic for its magical aspects ie; divining the future, seeing through the veils of illusion and so forth ─ which is all good. People will see what they are ready to see in Tarot art. Often in my own work I see things that I did not see before. In the Tarot system revelations evolve through the layers of symbols and context. I avoid incorporating recognizable symbols such as the pentagram in my work for loaded symbols will dominate. I let the paint reveal what it will. Often you will find in my painting naturally existing elements ie; horns, skulls and blood in a surrealistic context. Depending on the level of perspective of the beholder all "unknown" symbols may easily be interpreted as Satanic or otherwise. By default the unknown is scary so psychologically this interests me. Bringing forth the unknown and making it known is one of the first objectives of an artist.

Q: What does Satanism mean to you?

A: It has a strong vengeful female energy about it that influences the objective in my work. And of course it is a rebellion against the establishment in regards to Christianity and its oppressive indoctrinating culture.

Q: What Satanic themes do you explore with your art?

A: In my performance and video art I explore the satanic sound of Black Metal music and the movement and feeling it inspires. I invoke what I feel and see from the music. The repetitive themes are death and Catholic ritual, the in-between realms and breaking through to the other side. I like the idea of blasphemy and a staged theatrical black magic ritual runs through my work ─ I own two authentic priest's cassocks and several authentic ritual tools that I use ─ and I also occasionally collaborate with other artists. I am a vengeful voice for all the women who were tortured and murdered in the name of the murderous and false Christian God.

Q: Let's talk about your featured piece. What Satanic elements did you incorporate into this piece, and why?

A: This piece is called "The Devil." It is 5.3 ft. tall x 3 ft. and is oil on canvas. The Devil is my interpretation of this tarot card. My Devil is a faceless fiery energy that burns away the facades in life we hide behind. The two figures on either side are displayed in the midst of suffering; one is mental anguish, the other physical. The underground room, the rich interior of the physical world is full of incorporated details. The stairs become horns of a great head that the great devil figure in the middle dances upon. The images and the layers of meaning therein may be taken as literal or symbolic. This painting displays what is underneath. The Devil is the dance of energy, power and our individual will. It may be an objective energy to be manipulated subjectively to help us learn.

Q: What challenges did you have to deal with in making this piece?

A: The face of the Devil was the challenge; at first I contemplated making it a woman's face. But then I realized the Devil has "no-face" and is sexually ambiguous. Years after painting this I saw the Miyazaki movie "Spirited Away" and encountered the character known as "No-Face" ─ a demon who takes in the environment around him and interprets the dark truths of the human condition. I recognized the archetype of the Devil in this No-Face character.

Q: What would you like audiences to take away from it?

A: The Devil is a significant archetype in the Tarot, one of the major reflections upon the human condition. To embrace and understand it deepens your soul.

Q: Are you open about your Satanism? If so, how do you feel that might affect the reception of your art?

A: Artistically I am open with all my work and unapologetically stand beside the Satanic aspects of my performance art. As an advocate for freedom of speech I'm against any sort of censorship in the arts, cultural or otherwise. I am an ally of any form of expression that doesn't suit the patriarchy.

Any objections to my work are like throwing kerosene on a fire, I'm fueled to create more. I feel it's my duty to create what I know in my heart is truth and maybe it will inspire others to do likewise.

Q: Any tips for aspiring Satanic artists?

A: Don't apologize for your work.

Artist name: Ada King

Q: What artistic medium(s) do you work in?

A: Mixed media involving bible pages, pearls, floral arrangements I’ve been given, wire, acrylic, pouring medium. Most notably in my process is my butane torch and fire painting.

Q: What or who are some of your biggest artistic influences?

A: Mark Bradford is my hero.

Q: What role does Satanic philosophy play in your life? Do you consider yourself a Satanist, an ally, or do you simply use Satanic elements in your art when you feel inspired to do so?

A: I follow the tenets of the Satanic Temple.

Q: What Satanic themes do you explore with your art?

A: One’s Body is huge— the paintings are abstract vaginas. Also freedom to offend— by gilding the gibberish of the Bible into an art object.

Q: What challenges did you have to deal with in making this piece?

A: I’m more of an editor/Director/administrator than fine artist. Most of my career has been spent supporting artists so going out on my own was not easy.

Q: What would you like audiences to take away from it?

A: I’d like audiences to consider the role of destruction in creation. All of my pieces involve several rounds of fire between layers of paint. There’s a loss of control integral to the organic process that I recommend engaging in from time to time.

Q: Are you open about your Satanism? If so, how do you feel that might affect the reception of your art?

A: My art is inherently Satanic and mostly for the Satanic community. Knowing your niche is a key to success. You should never try to be all things to all people.

Q: Any tips for aspiring Satanic artists?

A: The "Dark Arts and Crafts" Facebook group is a fantastic community resource for Satanic artists. I encourage continually sharing your art process and art on social as often and including links to the art available for purchase on every social post.

You can find Ada's art at www.satanista.co

Tune in for Part Two, coming soon!

Lilith Starr is Chapter Head of the Satanic Temple's Seattle Chapter, and the author of "The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment." She holds an English BA from Harvard and a Journalism MA from Stanford. She lives in Seattle with her husband Uruk Black.


969 views

LILITH STARR ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Instagram Social Icon

I ACCEPT DONATIONS