While Steve Ehret was born in Canton during “Hall of Fame Week,” he would soon develop an artistic side instead of a penchant for football.

Steve grew up watching dark, zany media like The Maxx, Earthworm Jim, Halloween, and Gremlins, and in turn he always just loved drawing disturbing stuff. In eighth grade Steve was taken to see the school principal for his art. She flipped through his notebook, stopping to ask, “Why are you drawing chickens with their heads cut off?” That same year, Steve visited the Cleveland Museum of Art and it changed his life, as the masterpieces on display inspired him to excel at his craft.

Photography by Clair Ferris

After high school, Steve began pursuing art as a full-time career, earning his nickname “Monster” Steve for his trademark parade of illustrated monsters and characters. He’s a jack-of-many-mediums, working with acrylic, oils, ink, watercolor, and spray paint while laying it down on walls, canvas, paper, cardboard, bikes, cars, trailers, and even dune buggies. One of Monster Steve’s first big gigs was over 10 years ago, when he and his friend Ron Copeland were commissioned for $100 to paint a mural on the side of an old studio in Canton. It’s faded, crusty, and still up to this day.

Since then, Monster Steve hasn’t stopped challenging himself with a continuous stream of projects, including a 380-foot Mother Goose-inspired mural series in Canton that took roughly eight months to complete. Another unique project was a custom-painted bicycle designed for New Belgium Brewing Company’s 25th Anniversary. Steve took part in Akron University’s Arts Life program, using his expertise to help teach kids how to paint murals, but perhaps his proudest moment was a solo show at Translations Gallery, a high-concept space in Canton that he reveres as artistically sacred ground.

What glows throughout Monster Steve’s work is his insanely vivid, often humorous, otherworldly imagery. His creature creations are strangely pleasant yet freaky monstrosities bursting with color and character, each one a uniquely odd and intricate treat for viewers with a zest for absurdity. Steve’s usually toothy, wide-eyed, happy little horrors live among fully-textured psychedelic landscapes, simultaneously cheery and haunting. Each piece jumps to life like a frame from a twisted, unaired Saturday morning cartoon, existing exclusively in Monster Steve’s inimitable imagination.

Coming off a recent group show with his fellow artists, including his girlfriend Kat Francis, at Cyrus Framing and Art Gallery in Canton, Monster Steve and company’s display will be up for a few more weeks. Steve has a few mural projects in the pipeline for Canton and Akron, and a wall project in Detroit with his homies Malt and Tead, marking their fourth project together. In March, Steve will show his new paintings, themed “Atmos,” at the Lindsay Gallery in Columbus, and you can check out more of his work on Instagram @monster_steve and stay connected through his website at steveehret.com.