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Manoukian logging his latest discovery

Stan Manoukian saw his first monster at age thirteen. Out for an early morning fishing trip with his father, the fog loomed heavily above the water at the edge of the lake. With his rod in the water, the young Manoukian waited patiently for a tug on his line. But nothing came. And soon, he noticed everything around him had stopped. The sing-song of nearby birds, the rustling of leaves on the breeze; time, he said, seemed suspended.

The boy looked back in search of his father, who was still fussing with his fishing gear at the car. Stan turned his attention back to the dead calm of the water in front of him, and that’s when he saw it. A ripple, a big one, disturbing the glassiness of the water about 10 meters away, where the fog was heaviest. His eyes grew wide. He inched his toes closer to the water, but found he was already at the edge. The ripples approached. Stan could only watch. As they grew closer, the giant head of an unknown aquatic creature broke the surface of the water. Its skin was smooth, the gaze of its one eye arresting.

"Hughmee"

“Hughmee” 9.6″ x 7.6″ mixed media on lithograph paper

“It wasn’t dangerous looking at all,” Manoukian, now 43, recalls. “It was a mix between a fish and a human, with two big arms and tentacle fingers. We watched each other for probably only a few seconds, but the exchange felt interminable. My father came back from his car and nature returned to life; the creature disappeared in the blink of an eye and suddenly I had a big fish on my fishing rod! I guess it was a present from this creature as proof of our meeting.”

Since then, the Parisian artist sees monsters all the time, and everywhere. Even in the shower. “But you know, they don’t care about nudity,” he laughs, “nudity is liberty!”

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Every once in a while you come across an artist who just rocks your socks right off. Their work just clicks with you, you love it the moment you see it, and it’s sort of like reuniting with long-lost kin after thinking you were the only inhabitant on Planet Weird. And for me, that’s Paige Krueger. A few months ago I stumbled across her Etsy shop, Dance Sippy Dance, and was greeted by a number of bloodied and bulgey-eyed monsters who seemed utterly delighted to be covered in someone’s innards. I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?

An artist based out of Calgary, Alberta (proudly waving my red and white), Krueger paints on anything: canvases, wood, dirt, appliances … but it was her work with polymer clay that piqued the interest of my inner sicko. She calls them monsters, plain and simple, and their forms range from boogers to breath mints. I like the pale-looking pylon-types, myself, but her seasonal stuff is also top notch, like the mime, pumpkin thief and suited fellow pictured here.

So what makes this lady tick? “Oh, i wish i had a really interesting answer for this,” she laughs. “I just think it’s funny. Like when you’re in grade school and draw a wiener on the skeleton in the science text book. I would say having a laugh is what makes me tick.”

A self-proclaimed hermit an’ proud, Krueger used to collect corkscrews and yo-yos (’cause those go hand-in-hand). But now that she’s famous, her tastes have evolved to hoarding art supplies and following the works of Yue Minjun, Michael Hussar and Gary Baseman.

If you’re in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned gore this Halloween, be sure to pay this lady a visit. She does the blood thing all year round, too, which is a bonus. She also does E-rated monsters if that’s more your jam.

The snaps here are of my recent acquisitions, but there’s plenty more to see in her shop and via her social media accounts. Check her out!

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