It All Began With “The Arrival”

Nathan Mark Phillips / Southern Gothic at home

You have no doubt seen our meme series for Southern Gothic featuring the incredible artwork by Nathan Mark Philips. If you have read the collection, you have seen the splendor of these works in full. Each piece of art was specifically created for each piece of writing. All except one. You see, it all began with “The Arrival.”

When NLSP put out a call for Southern Gothic fiction and art, we weren’t sure what to expect, except to expect the unexpected. SG, as we have come to affectionately call around it around these parts, is a varied genre.

With all its layers and complexities, we had to dedicate a blog post or two to explaining exactly what SG is. While we were excited to read the stories and poems that poured in, we were especially excited to see what artwork we might get.

And just as varied as the genre itself, the art submissions showcased slices of the Southern Gothic. Images ranged from old graveyards, to abandoned homes, and even the sorrowful lingering of a Confederacy long gone. Some of these images we featured on our website. The artist, Emily Ruth Isaacson, also submitted two poems, “Virginia Dare’s Mother and “Early Spring on Vaughn’s Mill Road,” which were included in the anthology.

Among these inspiring pieces of art was something a little different. Something that reached out and spoke to us. Or rather, reminded us of something we had read, one of the stories we had accepted for the collection. Hardy Jones’ “Vistin’ Cormierville” was one of the first stories submitted and accepted to Southern Gothic. When we laid eyes upon Nathan’s digital collage “The Arrival” we knew we were looking at the visual representation of Hardy’s story. It was like magic. Or maybe more magical realism ;). Whatever it was, it got us thinking: “What if the entire collection had one visual style? The writing would be varied, of course, but the art would tie the whole collection together.” We thought this was a grand idea, but would Nathan Mark Phillips?

There were over fifteen pieces of writing that made up the collection. Would Nathan even want to do artwork for a whole book? Unlike “The Arrival,” all the other art for the collection would have to be created specifically for each piece. We knew it would be a lot to ask, but we also knew we had to ask.

Lucky for us, Nathan loved the idea. Working closely with our Creative Director, Jordan M. Scoggins, Nathan jumped right in. The first work he sent us was for Miranda Stone’s “The Confession,” and boy, was it a winner. But before we ever saw it, we have to admit, our Creative Director was as nervous as Aunt Pittypat. “As I waited for Nathan to send us the first piece,” recalls Jordan, “I was a little anxious–what would it be like? Working specifically with each story, would Nathan be able to bring forth the same kind of depth as he did with ‘The Arrival?’”

Needless to say, he was not disappointed, nor was our Co-founder and Publisher, Brian Centrone. “When Jordan forwarded me the image, I was immediately caught breathless. I knew we had struck gold.”

Assured enough that Nathan could deliver the goods, the process continued. Some stories proved more difficult than others and went through several rounds of drafts, but we never lost faith in our artist, and eventually, after many long weeks of hard work, the full collection emerged. It was then, as a publisher, we knew Southern Gothic had indeed arrived.

Visit Nathan Mark Phillips at www.nathanmarkphillips.com where prints of his Southern Gothic work are available for sale. Also, listen to his podcast episode on Fireside with Lichen Craig.