At just 21 years of age Augusta, Georgia native; Aaron Crawford is not only a self taught and self accomplished Illustrator and Graphic Designer, but is also in many ways a heroic inspiration to youth. Although Aaron may be no different from most his own age; engrossed in fashion and music etc, there is another side to that goes unnoticed by day. Forged by every drop of blood, sweat and tears that he has, conceiving a gruesomely spoofy cast of nightmarish monster’s that lurk under the bed of his imagination. One that harbors within his darkly creative soul. Only to be seen breaking through the surface in a brain storm of mayhem with an explosive anatomy of color. Armed with a passion and love for drawing and painting, spawned from a fascination with the grotesque images stemming back to the legends of modern day llustration; paving the way before him, shades of Aaron's forefathers and heroes can undoubtedly be seen in his work. But the point that really needs to be stressed is that Aaron Crawford hasn’t had any torch passed down to him, from one generation to the next. He’s ignited a new flame for his own. The405 were lucky enough to kick back with Aaron for this exclusive interview. Enjoy! When did you first realize that illustrating could become a full time career for yourself? I was always drawing characters from horror movies like Jason, Freddy, Micheal Myers, and old Pushead designs when I was growing up, and my mom was painting all the time too, so I really got inspired. As I got older, I realized, wow,I could design apparel, and it could be a fulltime job, plus it's something I'd love to be doing. Being a part of creating a bands identity through their merch really is amazing. How long have you been designing merch for bands? I've always dabbled in drawing, painting, and writing as I was growing up, but got into it as a career late 2003, early 2004. My mom paints as well, so that also inspired me to pursue things further. Have you ever considered doing your own comic book or working as a comic book illustrator? I've def. thought about it. I love to create little monsters and creatures in doodles and stuff, but it would be really fun to create a whole backstory and have it as a book with one of my drawings. I think it's something I will try in the future. What is the key to keeping your work and ideas fresh and not getting mentally or physically burnt out by what you do? Honestly, just sketching random objects, or any random idea that pops into your head, no matter what it is. I end up starting with a loose idea, and once I start sketching, ideas just spill onto the paper, or maybe that's just my blood.Sketching always really helps me though. It's good to take breaks too. Don't overdue things. If you get frustrated, walk away, and come back to it with fresh eyes. What kind of materials do you use? Well for most of the merch design stuff, I use ink, and photoshop. I'm also big into traditional stuff such as painting, etc. I'm trying to do it more often. Where or from Whom does your inspiration come from? To be honest, just thoughts I have in my head, my surroundings, conversations, horror movies, anything really. I try and stay open minded. Sometimes a client will give me a basic concept or lyrics to run with, and i get ideas from that. I'm always sketching out ideas in a notepad, it just kind of flows out. But mainly my good friend Mark Riddick, he's been doing merch design since 1991, and he's very consistent, and always has insane concepts. He's also the nicest dude to chat with. Alex Pardee, Greg Simkins, Blaine Fontana, Aaron Horkey, Bernie Wrightson, Ralph Steadman, Zornow, and of course, Pushead. I also enjoy the paintings of Zdzislaw Beksinski, HR. Giger, Salvidor Dali, & a ton of others. You've probably created hundreds of different characters, each more monstrous then the next. Summarize the process you go through in order to make one new and more unique. I try and make each design or character have a personality, something that maybe you can relate too, feel disturbed, nauseous, or something that just makes you think, "wow, i'd never want to see this thing walking down the dark hallway of my house when i'm going to the kitchen for a midnight snack". Were you the type of kid who always believed in monsters under the bed and inside of the closet? I was the type of kid who hoped their were monsters in my closet and under my bed. Some of your creations have been featured on a new range of clothing by Cryptic Aesthetic's. You must be really stoked about this! How did this come about? Yea, it was really an honor, honestly. Goodfellas Merch came to me with the idea, and they do amazing print work with bands such as Knights of The Abyss, Rxbandits, etc, so I was really happy to work with them on a project like Cryptic Aesthetic.I have complete artistic freedom with it too, which rules. I should have some new designs coming out for that very soon as well. What is the American art scene like right now and how has your art work been received over there? It's actually pretty awesome. Artists like Greg Simkins and Alex Pardee are really mindblowing, not to mention a TON of other americanan guys doing amazing work. My hometown has a more tattoo based scene I think, like 1st amendment tattoo. The artists there are ridiculous. John Lause and a few others are doing cool stuff here as well. As for apparel design in the states, my work is received pretty well. Some people fall in love with it, and some people are just disturbed by it. Would you say that each of your pieces can tell or have a personal story attached to the character in them? Is this intentional? It does, in a way. It could be influenced by the clients loose idea that they came to me with, or a bands lyrics that they give me, or just a feeling or idea I had floating around. Each design is personal to me in a way though. If you had to chose one piece of work you've done so far in your career as your favourite, what would it be? Personally, i like the one that isn't an unicorn and isn't animal. Infact what IS it?! Oh god, that's hard. I'd honestly have to say, clothing wise, some of my favorites I've done would be the Knights of the Abyss "serpentine" design, the shirts I did for Dr. Acula, and some stuff I did for Graves of Valor. I love when a band just gives me complete freedom over the art,and puts trust in me. The unicorn painting, which I actually just sold, came about from some random sketches I had been working on. I was doodling a hand doing the "gnarly" sign, and there was a unicorn sketch on the paper as well, and the way I sketched it, made it look like someone was holding on the unicorn, riding it into the clouds, doing that symbol with their hand. Honestly, if you were riding into the clouds on a unicorn, you'd probably be making some sort of crazy hand gestures as well. What was the last horror film that you watched and thought was good/bad. I actually just saw Cannibal Holocaust for the first time. It was insanely disturbing and gruesome. Apparently, every animal you see that they kill in the movie, was a real animal being slaughtered. Ouch. One movie I am looking forward to is My Bloody Valentine, the 3D flick that's coming out early next year.. It reminds me of that one movie, "The Prowler".  I'm so addicted to horror movies. What have you been listening to on your ipod/mp3player/stereo a lot recently? Leak Bros - Waterworld Trap Them - Seizures in barren praise These arms are snakes - Tale swallower and dove and the new Jedi Mind Tricks. I listen to a ton of different things. Finally, where do you see yourself 5 years from now, in regards to your work, new projects and any other personal aspirations you have in life. Hopefully things keep up. I'd love to paint more and work on those techniques, and have the opportunity to paint larger pieces. Maybe sell more paintings as well. I just recently painted a wall at a friends recording studio, and it was so much fun to do. Seeing your artwork in a super large format is great. I want to keep designing apparel, and hopefully better my skills in that area as well. There's so much I want to do. Be sure to check out more of Aaron's work by visiting his Official MySpace here and WebSite here