Fan art for RuPaul‘s Drag Race is everywhere, but not many compare to the works of artist Hannah Chusid, also know as Miss Day Tripper. Her zombie drag queen art stands out as some of the best recreations of fashions from the main stage. We were able to get an exclusive interview with Hannah and ask her about herself and learn more about what inspires her as an artist!
Check out the full interview below and be sure to scroll through the full artwork gallery at the end of this article!
Dragaholic: Tell us a little bit about you. What’s your background story?
Hannah: I am an illustration major graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology this Spring. I originally started off as a fashion design major until I realized my true forte was drawing and not as much sewing. I was born in Queens, NY, grew up in Westport, CT, and have been living in NYC for the past 5 years. I’ve been drawing my whole life ever since my mom gave me my first box of crayons when I was 3. I’ve always been into drawing characters and comics. I was really big on anime, comics, Disney, and animated TV shows on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. I’ve been really into theatre, movies, and going to museums, which has had a big impact on me. I was constantly drawing for as long as I could remember and it’s what I’m truly good at.
D: In 100 words, how would you describe your art and its style to people?
H: The first thing people say is that it looks like Tim Burton. But it’s not. And it’s not even close to realism—my work is not that technical. It’s highly influenced by German Expressionism and Impressionism. It’s quick, scratchy, raw, whimsical, dark, humorous, lots of movement, exaggerated, and simple. I go to the extreme to catch people’s attention and make them feel an emotion. It’s social commentary about beauty expressed through these drag queen characters. These characters are broken but put together. They either look morbidly cute or deliciously evil. There is no in between with my work.
D: What inspired your style and your RuPaul’s Drag Race art pieces?
H: The style just came naturally. I was getting into horror/macabre around Fall 2011 and it was just a slow process. I think the queen that inspired my characters was Sharon Needles. I would draw her in my sketchbook a lot. One day in my Adobe Illustrator Class in the Fall of 2012, I had a sketch of her and my professor pulled me aside telling me to scan it and color it in. He taught me the different types of filters on Photoshop and wanted me to post it online. It got 40 notes on my new Tumblr page. I started drawing more of these queens in this zombie style and then it started to gain a following. It got addicting once I knew my feedback was positive from the Internet.
D: Why do you do what you do?
H: I do what I do to make people laugh and to make myself laugh. Even though my work is dark, it’s still funny. Just the facial expressions I choose for the characters and what aspects I choose to exaggerate somehow strikes a funny bone in people. I also just love these queens so much that I want to brighten their day in some way, even if what I draw is grotesque.
D: Do you have any seminal experiences?
H: I have had a few. I think the first was when I drew Manila Luzon as the Bride of Frankenstein. That went around Tumblr in October 2012—around 600 notes in total. It also went around Buzzfeed and got a “Bronze Reddit Award”. That made me realize that people really like my work and I should continue this. I think the biggest moment was when my artwork was featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race in April 2013. It was really something to see my work on TV. Felt surreal but awesome that I was getting this exposure on National TV. Ever since then, I’ve been getting recognition for my work by the drag community. It’s been pushing me to work even harder. And it’s been rewarding to be recognized by some of my favorite queens, such as Alyssa Edwards, Sharon Needles, Milk, Jinkx Monsoon, Adore Delano, Laganja Estranja, Darienne Lake, Detox, BenDeLaCreme, and Alaska Thunderfuck.
D: What art do you mostly identify with?
H: If Nightmare Before Christmas counts as a work of art, I’m going to say that. It is just a beautiful masterpiece. Even though it’s set in such a creepy world (Halloween Town), the characters in that world aren’t necessarily evil. Sally Ragdoll wants to just be a part of the normal gatherings of the town, but is held back by her creator. She is filled with love and is smart, and I can definitely identify with her. She just wants to be accepted and does quite a bit of self sacrificing, which is something I can relate to. I love how all the characters move so elegantly, even though they’re supposed to be creepy and grotesque.
D: Whats your favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race art work of yours?
H: My personal favorite was my drawing of Jinkx Monsoon’s “candy couture” from season 5 when I made her almost “Nightmare Before Christmas”-esque. But from this season, so far I really enjoyed drawing Milk as Pinocchio. I’m a real Dis-nerd and had a lot of fun with that one.
D: Why art?
H: I create art to express the other side of me that I don’t express verbally. Everyone has a dark side, and mine is expressed by art combined with humor. I like creating and controlling my own world of characters and putting them in scenarios that will clearly not happen in real life. It’s a way of expressing my thoughts on society and pop culture.
D: What is your dream project?
H: My dream project is to create a feature film with my zombie drag queen characters. I’ve always wanted to have a feature film and be in the entertainment industry. I love to make people laugh, whether the content is dark or not. My other dream project is to illustrate classic novels and mythology.
D: Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
H: Asides from Tim Burton, I’d like to be compared to Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, and Edward Gorey.
D: What are you immediate art career goals (1-3 years)?
H: My immediate art goals are to work on some freelance work like creating prints, t-shirts, and any other sort of commissions. Doing street art murals around NYC would be fun. I have a few longterm projects that I’ve been asked to do; 2 are books and 1 is a movie. I’m also working on a tarot deck–I have 13 cards done… out of 78. That’d be nice to get done. I’d really like to get some publishing jobs too. I’m hoping to even do some historical illustration to help kids understand Shakespeare and required reading novels a lot easier. Historical illustration also ties into pre-production art for film, which is another one of my goals.
D: Thanks for answering all of our questions so openly! If people want to learn more about you, or connect with you online, where can they find you?
H: They can follow me on Facebook at /hannahchusid, Tumblr at missdaytripper, Twitter at @_day_tripper, Instagram: @_day_tripper and they can check out my Behance portfolio at be.net/hchusidillustrations.
We hope you love Hannah’s work as much as we do! Don’t forget to follow her on her social channels and let her know that Dragaholic sent you her way!
Portfolio: Zombie Drag Queens by Hannah Chusid (aka Miss Day Tripper)
Don’t forget to check out Hannah’s full Zombie Drag Queens portfolio!