Lauren Gornik: Rooted in pop-surrealism & narrative illustration
For the past five years I’ve been working as a professional illustrator, working with a variety of metal acts. Originally, my interest in working with heavy metal bands began around the time I formed my first band, Panzer. However, I was also driven to make a career out of what I could create because I found a way to blend my interest in metal music and culture with my artwork. I received my Bachelors in the Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University, having an emphasis on illustration and design.
A lot of my technique is derivative of print making or etching techniques, because I choose to use a lot of mark making and stippling, using patterns to create a larger sense of space and harmony amongst objects. However, my style is rooted in pop-surrealism and narrative illustrations, so my color use is usually vibrant, or simplified if it’s being paired with complex line work, so it’s still clear and easy to read. My preferred medium is pen and ink with digital (Photoshop or Illustrator; Intuos5 tablet), or watercolor, though I do use pastels on occasion as well. Each piece has a unique approach stylistically, depending on who I’m working for, but my process is generally the same. When a band approaches me, they usually come to me with a brief idea of what they want, or they ask me to create something with a certain mood.
Though the content of my pieces vary greatly, my vision is to create a narrative that is interesting and unexpected, branching out from a concept that may be overdone, or based in some kind of symbolism that we’re all familiar with. A lot of the common themes in metal deal with horror, the occult, mythology, science fiction, etc. I want to create pieces that break the traditional look and feel of these topics by using unconventional color schemes, or by creating a sense of comedy with over the top ideas. Everything I create is about taking the idea a step further for example take Norse mythology and ground it in American metal.
Having new musicians to work with doesn’t always guarantee fresh concepts, so whenever someone wants me to create something fundamentally similar to an idea I’ve previously expanded upon, I often look to other parallels in music, art, and other topics that have the mood I want to express. For me, researching anatomy, history, and environments is important to expand on the foundations of illustration, but it’s just as important to keep up with what’s going on in the world of metal, as well as art. I believe keeping up with new music and artists is integral for building strong, fresh concepts while analyzing trends.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.