Terrance Zdunich is many things to many people. To the studios, he’s a storyboard artist (Into The Wild). To goth-girls, he’s a movie star and cult sex-symbol (as the Graverobber in Repo! The Genetic Opera). To the iPod generation, he’s a composer and vocalist (also Repo!). To readers, he’s known as a magazine columnist (Fantastique) and as the author/illustrator of a graphic novel (The Molting). To fellow hissing cockroach keepers, he’s an inspiration with his brood of six. And now he’s about to put another feather in his cap as The Tutor (imagine if Bob-Ross and Ted Bundy had a love child) — an unsettling art teacher giving free lessons online via 1-1/2 minute video skits.
It’s enough to make Regan’s head spin counterclockwise. And if Diablo Cody ever produces a film of her popular Showtime TV series, she could rework it as The United States of Terrance. Who is Zdunich really? If this interview is any indication, we’ll never know. He’s never one to give a straight answer, that’s for sure — but if you read carefully, you just might learn how to paint a straight line.
Staci Layne Wilson: Who is The Tutor?
Terrance Zdunich: The Tutor is that long-haired fellow with the white jumpsuit, black rubber apron, chainsaw, and paintbrush who, with the help of some six-legged assistants, is gonna teach you how to become an artist. I’m pleased to meet you, and I invite you to enroll in my course today.
SLW: Is The Tutor related to The Graverobber?
TZ: I don’t know any grave-robbers. Unfortunately, that dreadful lot have entangled themselves with artists over the ages, providing us with anatomical specimens to draw from and a bad rap. In my class, we use only fresh subjects. Also, unlike the resurrection men of old, profit is not the end goal of my course. My students will create work that bespeaks a more noble purpose.
SLW: And what is The Tutor’s purpose?
TZ: Glorious and horrible. A dream to some, a nightmare to others. Before the course is completed, my purpose will speak through my creation. If you enroll in the class, you will become an accomplice of sorts, and you too will possess a finished work of art. That work will expose your own purpose…be it bloody or benign.
SLW: Tell us a little bit about your background with art and your evolution from paper to YouTube.
TZ: All Artists evolve. For me, it began with crayons and chalk, and then escalated to neighborhood pets and arson, then watercolor, acrylics and oil paints, then hitchhikers and co-eds, and now YouTube. I try to teach my pupils to always stay one step ahead of the curve.
SLW: Who are the filmmakers behind the tutorials?
TZ: Disciples of art, like me — people who have gazed into the abyss and, without flinching, picked up a paintbrush, a camera, some sewing needles, a shovel, and a bag of lime. A full list of The Tutor’s conspirators are available within my online lesson plan.
SLW: How often will you be releasing them?
TZ: By the time they are mounted and preserved within my gallery/crawlspace, my subjects have already been released — released from their physical cages, released from their mortal coils. They are immortalized, bronzed…they are…oh, gracious me… By “them” you meant my srt tutorials? Forgive me. A new lesson will be released once a week, every Tuesday, for the duration of the 14-week course.
SLW: This is a fun idea, but what will The Tutor’s students learn?
TZ: They will learn how to paint from life. They will learn what instruments are necessary to complete a project and organize a productive workspace. They will learn how to select a subject. They will learn self-confidence. They will learn to not let the words of art critics, investigators, or jurors sway them from their art. One lucky enrollee will even be named valedictorian. This person’s finished project will be featured within The Tutor’s lesson plan.
SLW: Can anyone learn to draw?
TZ: Yes. Even the most impressive of masterpieces is comprised of a series of small, often unimpressive and always attainable steps. My course will provide you with the necessary strokes to paint your own Renoir, your own Rembrandt, to become your own Ripper.
TZ: I am inspired by anyone who possesses passion — those who do not wait for permission but create because they can, because they need to. From the complexity of a Caravaggio, to the simplicity of a Gein, all art is inspirational.
SLW: How do these relate to The Molting?
TZ: As artists, all of our works are related and contain elements that echo from project to project. Art historians may refer to this as our “voice.” Profilers call this our “M.O.” There are elements from The Molting in every lesson of the tutorial. Some are glaring, some obscure. Bonus points will be given to students who successfully identify these threads.
SLW: Since this is your first foray into the world of writing and drawing graphic novels, and there’s still a newness about it, please tell us about some of the best surprises associated with that.
TZ: All of my projects, like all of my subjects, are special. They all are filled with surprises and conflict. They all feel new. I am most excited, however, to see the creations of others — the artwork produced by students of my class. Completed assignments have already begun to flow in and can be viewed within the “Comments” section of each lesson of the tutorial. I invite you to take a look, get inspired, and try to do better. The Tutor expects to see your homework before the bell rings at the start of next week’s class!