METALHAMMER



What has been ur first artwork for judas priest?

Ram It Down in 1988

How did u get in contact to the guys?

Their management contacted me after seeing my artwork for the Donington Monsters Of Rock festival that year and in previous years.

The booklet of “painkiller” says “cover design based on an original concept by judas priest” – what was their basic idea?

Their original idea - was to have a biker holding a machine gun astride a huge motor bike! There was to be a metal creature on the back riding as a passenger. I produced a series of drawings and the ideas gradually changed once they had something to look at. The biker was replaced by the passenger - the metal cyborg was so much stronger visually. I added wings and then added a monster dragon creature on to the bike to make it half machine, half monster...to add to the imagery - of this rider in the skies of hell - and the world in chaos - a volcanic armageddon.

Did u have other illustrations, that didn’t make it on the cover?

Not illustrations - but many drawings - some of which can be seen in my latest book of artwork - 'Shadowplay'.

What came first to ur mind – the “winged metal messiah” or the “dragon-bike”?

The winged metal messiah came first. 

Whats the idea behind the symbol that looks like a jewish candleholder a bit?

That was used before I was involved with Priest - it became known as their 'trident' emblem - I don't really know where it came from or who originally designed it - I think it's an amalgamation of the 'J' and 'P' of the band's name...but I could be wrong - I've never asked actually...but that would be my guess. They wanted it used in some way on the sleeve - so it became a symbol of chaos rising out of the molten lava as the destruction of the skyscrapers takes place.

What were the working steps in this illustration (drawing, coloring, etc.)., how did the band interact between the several steps?

In those pre-computer days - I would do drawings and fax them to the band's management - Jayne Andrews and she would collect a few ideas together and have meetings with the band and get back to me with their comments.

How long did it take to complete this illustration?

About three weeks, but about three weeks of drawings to get it right before that.

Is the music of an album important for ur cover inspiration? 

Yes - most definitely. 

Why did u choose that heaven & earth-colors for the “painkiller”-lettering?

Not sure now - perhaps it was exactly how you have posed the question - 'heaven and earth'...really though - I can't remember - they just asked me to create the lettering and treat the logo in the same way.

U have also worked for “ram it down”, “metalworks”, “jugulator”, “angel of retribution” and “nostradamus” – what is ur favourite work in that list and why?

I really liked Angel of Retribution as a cover most. It was the best interpretation of that 'metal messiah'. However my favourite illustration of all of my work for Priest was the 'Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse' for Nostradamus. The cover for that comes a close second to Angel...and the complete packaging of that album is perhaps the best for an album I've ever done. 

How did ur connection to the band evolve throughout the years since “painkiller”?

They would contact me  a few months - sometimes as much as a year ahead of the release of an album to start working on ideas. It has got now to the point where they really trust me to come up with something, trust my instincts as much as theirs, so that I felt comfortable in suggesting changes or developments to their original concepts. Nostradamus was the best result of this I feel - it just kept evolving - from just a cover - to a massive packaging concept which included many many illustrations...each time I would add more to the designs and each time the band and the record company became more fascinated with the artwork until almost a year after they first asked me to start working on it - we found that there was enough visual ideas to fill many albums - and after a meeting at Sony - the idea of a lavishly presented box set was suggested to house all these visuals.

U just released “shadowplay”, a book, which covers ur work as an artist and choose a quote of john lennon as intro: “reality leaves a lot to the imagination”. What does that mean to u and ur art?

I love that quote. It is so Lennon. I could imagine him saying that in his very sardonic way. I don't know if you are familiar with this British expression - 'it leaves a lot to the imagination' - OR 'it leaves nothing to the imagination' - it generally gets used if there is too little - or too much visual input in day-to-day life. So for Lennon to put 'reality' in front of it was pure genius. I suspect it was said during his psychedelic phase - my own interpretation of it would be that reality is tough, reality can be cruel and perhaps a little mundane on occasion - so that leaves a LOT for the imagination to do - to fill in the gaps of your consciousness. My art has been changing and hopefully developing over the past thirty years. I've been lucky in the collaborations I have had...there is never a dull moment, as long as I can keep progressing in some way and not repeat myself - then I will feel creatively fulfilled. I can't ask for more than that.

Beside priest u worked with artists like marillion, iron maiden and the darkness – what was ur most interesting work to ur opinion and why?

I think Nostradamus was the most interesting as it took so long (almost a year) - and as it developed it really took on a life of its own. I did a lot of research into the man - he was such a fascinating person to read about - and to explore the time that he lived in was amazing. Also - working with Fish (original writer and vocalist from Marillion) has been a fantastic journey for me as a visual artist, he is such a great writer. His lyrics are chock full of imagery, there is always something new to discover each time you read them. In contrast to the graphic world of Priest where the monsters are all 'outside' - inhabiting a very dark place...Fish's lyrics in contrast contain references to his very own personal inner demons which can be just as strange a world to inhabit too - but a rich feast visually. A long dark night of the soul! It is very rewarding for me as an artist to work with such imaginitive and creative people, and to get the chance to absorb their strange compulsions and try and create an alternative landscape of reality for them. I can't imagine two more diverse artists than Priest and Fish - but between the two of them...I've had the best of both worlds to explore.

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