Artist Showcase: Frank Heiler

Every month, we try to showcase the work of one artist who might align themselves or their work with the term ‘outsider art.’ This month, Frank Heiler shares his process and inspiration as well as a selection of his ‘Dark Surrealism.’


Frank Heiler, Pyrokinesis

Frank Heiler, Pyrokinesis

When did your interest in art/creating begin?

My interest in the arts started very early. I loved drawing as a child, and my mother being an artist/illustrator only added to that fire. As I grew older I would often paint, draw, make videos, and sculpt things out of clay for hours on end just for fun. I’ve always had an innate desire to create something interesting and new.

Frank Heiler, The Burning Maelstrom

Frank Heiler, The Burning Maelstrom

What is your starting point for each piece?

For many of my acrylic paintings I will begin with a vague idea, maybe a feeling, or maybe something almost fully fleshed out in my mind. I work out a few small, light sketches and then I start painting the idea out for the final draft. I usually prep my painting boards with thick, heavily applied gesso, to add additional texture to the work. Sometimes I will also apply color, or black and white paint expressively, and then look for an image underneath the chaos, and then I do my best to bring out that vision. I usually start my ink drawings much the same, with a light sketch, then I do most of the detail entirely freehand.

Frank Heiler, The Entangled

Frank Heiler, The Entangled

Who/what influences your work?

My work is influenced heavily by the work of Zdzislaw Beksinski. Discovering his work inspired me to pick up painting seriously. I am also deeply influenced by music, and I never work without it. Survival horror video games, horror films, and horror/scifi literature also inspire me. I often draw from my own thoughts, experiences, and emotions as well, imparting something personal to each work.

Frank Heiler, The Keeper of Absolute Agony

Frank Heiler, The Keeper of Absolute Agony

What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?

I would hope that the viewer gets a sense of mystery, of foreboding, an unsettling or uncertain feeling from my work. I also try to create beauty within the darkness, maybe using surreal bright colors, or just in my intensive line-work or through texture. I’ve also always loved pieces of art that you can stare at and always see more, so I do my best to emulate this and hide faces, tiny details, and other subtle things in some of my work.

Frank Heiler, Uriel's Obsession

Frank Heiler, Uriel’s Obsession

What do you think about the term outsider art? Is there a term that you think works better?

I think that it fits well with some of my work, especially my more experimental pieces. Although I do draw influences from other artists, I always try to keep a foreign, outside element to my art, something chaotic and new, with my own influence. Dark Surrealism is probably a better term to describe what I do, however.

Frank Heiler, Don't Look

Frank Heiler, Don’t Look

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a couple of new larger sized paintings, which I’m quite excited about, as well as a few commissioned pieces which I’m thoroughly enjoying!

Frank Heiler, What Lies Beneath

Frank Heiler, What Lies Beneath

Where do you see your work taking you in the future?

I hopefully see my work taking me further not just in my technical skills, but also in the ability to express my ideas. I also hope it will take me into some gallery shows, some solo shows, or maybe even something bigger.


To see more of Frank’s work, click here to visit his Facebook page
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