Data + Design Project

Victorian Era Freaks Take Formal Photos

Tuesday 05.14.2013 , Posted by
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Travis Louie Paintings 6

Perhaps we shouldn’t call them freaks… these are just normal citizens trying to fit into everyday society. Or are they? From the Edwardian era to the Victorian, these characters are all a bit odd, but they’ve shown up to have their formal portrait taken in their finest clothing; with their hair and beards neatly combed and their individual characters written all over their face (even if that face has only one eyeball). Where did these creatures come from?

“Some of their origins are a complete mystery while others are hinted at. A man is cursed by a goat, a strange furry being is discovered sleeping in a hedge, an engine driver can’t seem to stop vibrating in his sleep, a man overcomes his phobia of spiders, etc…”

See Also Freaky Friendly Monsters in a Retro World

The work of New York native Travis Louie, each of these paintings captures an imaginary moment in time when human oddities, mythical beings, and otherworldly characters roamed the streets of the world. He captures each character with the black and white or sepia tone of a vintage daguerreotype, using acrylic paints over fine graphite drawings to achieve a look he says is “mostly influenced by the lighting and atmosphere of German Expressionist and Film Noir motion pictures from the Silent Era to the late 1950s.”

As a child Louie was inspired by watching “atomic-age” sci-fi and horror movies, trips to the local comic shop and no doubt the wild characters roaming the city of New York itself. He spent countless hours sketching creatures from Godzilla, King Kong and a lot of Ray Harryhausen movies, before attending school and pursuing a career in freelance illustration. That wasn’t nearly as fun as creating his own work, so after considerable interest from local gallery shows, he stopped actively pursuing illustration work and concentrated on his own paintings. We’re happy he did. You can see more of his fine and freaky paintings at travislouie.com.

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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