Michael Calandra now produces amazingly detailed and refined images of fantasy and erotica, but his journey as an artist has taken him through a variety of surprising genres.
Calandra was born and raised in the state of Michigan, U.S.A and had a variety of early influences. Firstly, there were comic books such as Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, which engaged him on a deeper level than most comic-reading boys experienced. Michael had a voracious appetite for the images he found and began copying the art of such masters as Frank Frazetta, Jose Gonzalez and Bernie Wrightson. By studying their work, he gained a solid understanding of line quality, drawing and pen and ink skills.
The attraction to fantasy and horror was sidelined, however, when he went to Monroe County Community College on an art scholarship. While developing his technique, Calandra focused on wildlife painting. He made significant achievements in this genre, placing highly in wildlife art competitions in Michigan and Wyoming, having work appear in several magazines, being featured at many gallery shows and wildlife art festivals and enjoying several one-man shows.
In the early 1990s Calandra found a new direction. One might say instead that he reaffirmed an old direction. The imagery in the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula compelled him to paint the Count character and to release it as a limited-edition print through Sony Merchandising. He thus made a professional entry into the world of horror and fantasy art. His work tended (and continues to tend) toward the darker side of fantasy and often revolves around a strong central female character. The next important step in Michael’s development came with his learning of airbrush technique, which allowed the theme of female beauty to step into a new light, and the erotic artist emerged completely.
There is a certain irony in the artist’s transformation from one type of “wildlife” to another, but the skills he learned painting wolves, birds and other animals in their natural settings have given his later erotic work an unparalleled level of realism. His attention to detail is overwhelming, and it is immediately obvious that his paintings are the result of a long and laborious process. Working with airbrush and colored pencils, Calandra displays unparalleled technique and creates images of striking sensuality.
The artist has worked with an impressive list of models and their photographers. This list includes names such as Seffana, Drakaina, Natasha Yi, Julie Kim, Nicole Damon, Debra Valentine, Debra Shaw, Kelly Kole, Khwan, Anastasia Dorohova and Jennifer Delora. Calandra’s work also appears in Veronika Kotlajic’s book The Muse and Bianca Beauchamp’s book Fetish Sex Symbol. Calandra typically transforms these models into fantastic heroines clad in revealing armor and wielding impressive weapons or into winged goddesses in flimsy gothic lingerie.
Further success in horror and fantasy art has come with some impressive accomplishments. Calandra was commissioned by Image Ten, Inc. to create the official art for the film Night of the Living Dead, and he has also done work for Fantasy Flight Games. Magazine credits include work for International Illustrator, Airbrush Art/Action and Heavy Metal Magazine. This last big name has even featured Calandra’s work on the cover of the September 2007 edition. Art Scene International also ran a cover and feature article in January of 2008.
The artist currently lives and works in Sylvania Township, Ohio. He continues to produce some of the finest pinup work of any American in the genre, and is proud to have his horror art appear in the collections of some of his heroes, including Tom Savini, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, Ted Nugent and the band Kiss. When he’s not in the studio, Michael is busy running the business he established in 2003: Frameworks Art and Frame. There he does innovative framing design and custom picture framing as well as custom drawings for gifts, letterheads and prints.
- paintings of wildlife have appeared in several major wildlife art magazines, including Monroe Magazine and Wildlife Art News
- received commendation for artistic achievement from the State of Michigan
- placed in top five in the Michigan Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition
- featured artist in several gallery shows and festivals
- commissioned to produce representations of 1968 classic film “Night of the Living Dead”
- work has appeared in a variety of magazines, including International Illustrator, Airbrush Art/Action, and Heavy Metal
- work appears in Veronika Kotlajic’s book The Muse and Bianca Beauchamp’s book Fetish Sex Symbol
- work appears in the collection of Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, Ted Nugent, and Tom Savini, among others