I had studied graphic arts at the university of applied sciences in Düsseldorf/Germany. I also worked for 3 years as a technical illustrator for the Ford car company in Cologne. Meanwhile, I am teaching illustration and drawing at several art schools and academies in Germany.
My start was actually not for a heavy metal band but for a melodic progressive rock band from Germany called Lorian. They were/are friends of mine and asked me if I could do the artwork for their debut album ‘Virginal Mind’ in 1995 when I was still a student. When the album was released it aroused interest at several other brands and new labels. I also sent small portfolios with photo-samples of my work to record labels and soon I had a bunch of commissions for album cover artwork from bands and record labels from all over the world. That was around 1997/1998…
I am a classic traditional illustrator which means that I am only doing handmade artwork and I am working in a mixed-media style using acrylic colors, pencils, inks and the airbrush technique (acrylic inks).
Well, some bands leave me almost complete freedom at the artwork, e.g. the cover that I did for Vangough album ‘Between the Madness’. Bands have very detailed ideas and are very picky about every smallest piece in the background. And other bands have some rough ideas in mind but they are open for other ideas or modifications of their original artwork concepts. Shadow Gallery, for example, came up with the idea of an office with a computer monitor and on this monitor a sword spearing a globe of the world for the artwork of their album ‘Tyranny’. I felt we should keep it a bit more simple, iconic but eye-catchy and I came up with a rough pencil sketch of a burning map of the world and a snake winding around a sword and forming a dollar-sign. They loved the idea and the artwork can be seen on their album “Tyranny”.
Symbols are just a good way to transport or visualize an abstract message or theme but mostly I don’t have any deeper interest in this kind of topics. I am not the occult or religious person although I am often quite fascinated by their symbolism. But I go to churches only to view the building and to breathe in the atmosphere, not for praying.
Regarding style and technique, I find the most inspiration in the works of the “old masters”. I am also inspired by literature like e.g. Edgar Allen Poe, historical novels, old legends and fairy tales, by films, by trips to exciting cities e.g. Riga, Tallinn, Cologne, Münster etc. (I could mention much more). But the best inspiration is often nature: almost every evening I am driving around with my mountain bike and see interesting stuff. Hunting owls, bizarre trees, and plants, clouds in the moonlight, sunsets, thunder, and lightning etc. Such stuff is my main inspiration and I want to caption the mood that I experienced in these moments in my paintings.
The painting that best defines my own style at the moment is an unpublished one called ‘The Astronomer’: I think this image transport my vision very well. I would call the style “Phantastic Realism” since it combines realistic elements and details in a fantastic, dream-like composition. This painting is somehow also full of nostalgia and some sense of old memories and longing. I guess I am a romanticist.
I am a member of the German image copyright society and collecting company Bildkunst www.bildkunst.de and they are associated with Artists Right Society in New York http://www.arsny.com. Such organizations are much more important for artists who make their living by their art (and they don’t charge any money from the artists).
I also had and still have in mind to join one of the illustrator’s organizations but I am still not sure if they can offer me enough benefit for myself, keeping in mind that they charge around 200 bucks each year from their members.
I have been involved in several exhibitions in the past. My next exhibition is planned for January 2018 in my hometown. It will be an exhibition with two themes: One, I will present many original paintings of cover artworks that I had done for books and CDs in the last years and two, in a separate room I will present the most interesting cases of copyright infringements that happened to my work within the last 5 years, together with many items that I had ordered from the infringers as a corpus delicti. Copyright infringement has become a pain in the ass for me within the last years, especially my image ‘Medusa Mask’ has been copied and stolen more than hundred times so far (for commercial usages) and this will be my revenge and fun.
I want to experiment with oils a bit more, I must admit that I just used oils very rarely in the past and I want to become a bit more experienced and familiar with this technique. I just need to find maybe a good teacher/artist who can show me some interesting and professional ways of working out almost photorealistic paintings with oils.
I also have in mind to work under a secret pseudonym so that I can work out paintings that are completely different from the work that I have done so far. Work from the past can also be a burden because certain images always pop up in the heads of the viewer when they hear a certain name of an artist. To avoid that I try to work undercover. At the moment I am searching for some kind of management or representative for my work. Any idea or hint is appreciated.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2017 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.