In The Artist's Studio: David H. Everett of Chicken Lips
I studied Chicken Lips artwork for months, if not a year or so before I made my first purchase. Once I unwrapped that piece in the box, I was not disappointed! My first skelly was the Clowning Around Skelly which is a Bethany Lowe Designs reproduction and I was impressed. So much so that my next two purchases came soon after the first. David Everett of Chicken Lips just has a style about his work that is so impressive by way of creativity that I will continue to add to my collection year after year.
I’m not going to lie, I was scared to send David my request to speak with him. I mean, these artists are like celebrities to me and I know they are busy, but David responded almost immediately and I was stoked! I really enjoyed our chat and learned even more about one of my favorite artists.
David was born and raised in Southern California and lives in the perfect place that allows him to visit the beach, the desert or the mountains all in under an hour. What’s even better though is his proximity to Disneyland, which is only about a 50 minute drive and one of his top inspirations for his creations.
I want to start in a different place with you than I do with most interviews….I read where you are a graphic designer….what exactly does that mean?
David has been in graphic design for about 34 years. He freelances for a marketing agency and creates logos, brochures, etc. While it used to be a full-time job, he only works part time now so that he can focus on his favorite job of creating our favorite characters. His definition of ‘slowing down’ is now about 60 hours of work in his week where he gives about 20 hours a week to the graphic design work while concentrating on creating his characters the rest of the time.
I wanted to know more about his homelife and pets and knew he had at least one puppy so I asked him to tell me a little bit about his furry friends:
He lives on about one and a half acres with his 2 dogs: Rosy and Bruno. Not too long ago he had goats, chickens, ducks and geese. Many of the animals became inspiration to some of his works of art. If you are not familiar with the painting called ‘American Gothic’, you should look it up. It’s the man and woman standing in front of their farm holding pitchforks. It’s a favorite painting of David’s and he created an awesome rendition using his skellies!
In that same timeframe, he made some very charming farmyard animals that deviated a little from the normal Halloween characters he creates but were just as sought after and just as fantastic. David loved all his critters at his farm and hopes to one day get back to having some to look after. In the meantime, his rescued pup, Rosy and his faithful companion Bruno will be by his side.
I always must ask an artist about their favorite holiday, even if I can guess the answer:
David does not see Halloween as a day of the year. For him, Halloween is 365 days a year! I am pretty sure a lot of us can relate! He was recently shown some old photographs that his grandmother had passed on to his aunt, and man did that bring back some old memories. He was handed a picture that triggered fond memories from an age of 3 where his mother had dressed him as a bunny!
We also reminisced about the old school carnivals. You could dress in your costume on party day and share in some classroom fun, but it was after school that made the memories stick. The carnivals consisted of games or booths where you could win tickets in order to ‘buy’ a prize at the end of the night. Each class was responsible for a game which may consist of something similar to a cake walk, but one that he really remembers was called something like ‘a pig in a poke’. It was essentially a barrel full of sawdust in that you reached in to pull out a ping pong ball. Written on the ball was your prize, so it was always a fun surprise to see what you came up with!
How did you get started into making these wonderful creations? And where is the world do you come up with your cross-pollination holiday designs?
One of David’s favorite things in the world is Play-Doh (and Toys-R-Us, but they have long since gone away). He loves the smell and the sensation when molding it. I did a little research and Play-Doh was actually created in the 1930’s as a wallpaper remover. Who knew?! I was joking when I said, someone should make a candle with that scent and David informed me they already do! And air fresheners, and cologne sprays and who knows what else!
So Play-Doh was his initial medium, but when talking about his characters, it is the Skeleton that is normally front and center. David was afraid of skeletons as a child, but when he grew out of his fear, he realized the skeleton is essentially the ‘core of all of us’. So what does he do? He creates them as fun characters and even has them dress as bunnies for Easter, ax wielding brides, holding turkeys at Thanksgiving, or even in their pajamas! Scroll through his Instagram and you will be amazed at the talent!
In continuation of the characters he creates, I had to know where do the ‘angry eye’s come from”?
I called them ‘angry eyes’, he laughed as he doesn’t think they are angry. He sees them as a bit more mischievous. He finds that the eyes in all his work lends to their character. The eyes and grumpy looks are unexpected, so people are drawn to them. I personally think they make them look funny and you cannot help but smile when you look at them!
Where do you get your Inspiration for your creations?
Years ago, David wanted to be a magician or a puppeteer. Without giving away his age, I can tell you some of his inspiration comes from Muppets. I even wonder if the newer generations even know what the Muppets are! Another huge inspiration is Disneyland. Pre-Covid, he would visit all the time. Just the fun and the magic bring forth ideas. I would also venture to bet that relaxing and having fun opens the mind for new and creative characters.
What do you think about when you are painting?
I always think it is interesting to find out what the artist is thinking about when they paint. I often wonder if they like silence or background noise. I think about what I would do if I were able to be an artist and I would for sure not have a keyboard and computer in front of me. Haha. In David’s case, he likes to listen to music when he paints. Anything from classical to Marilyn Manson. He may get some funny looks from Bruno and Rosy when Marilyn is on, but he enjoys an array of music and plays something that satisfies his mood.
In terms of thinking though, he likes to think about how his character will come to life. His process of building a work of art can take up to a couple weeks of work. The base is created by hand (no molds) and must dry. Then there are the fine details to create, then it must dry. Next is the Gesso (which must dry) and many layers of paint (which each has to dry). Although he is enjoying each step, he is also jumping to the ‘next step’ and wondering how his character will evolve.
When do you feel most satisfied?
As an artist, is there really any level of satisfaction? David is always striving to do better and is his own worse critic when it comes to his art. He says he is the most vulnerable when he puts his art out to his collectors. He wants to make sure he is always creating something that people are going to enjoy. I think he is definitely hitting the mark since all his originals tend to disappear from his shop in mere minutes if not seconds.
Where do you see your journey go from here?
David cannot imagine life without art. Even if his hands become arthritic, he will find a way to adapt. He strives hard to please his collectors, but due to demand, it is hard to satisfy everyone. The process of creation is long and tedious, but when sent to someone to adopt, he loves to hear the appreciation and adoration for what he creates.
David’s work is also reproduced by Bethany Lowe Designs. This year is even more special because he now has some wonderful Christmas pieces that we can all add to our collection. If you have not seen his work, I encourage you to follow him on Facebook or Instagram @chickenlips_davideverett. You will find the David H Everett by Bethany Lowe Designs on our website. If there is something you are searching for at Holiday Pizzazz that you cannot find, do not hesitate to reach out. We strive to do our best to help everyone find what they are looking for!