Metal album artwork Monday

It’s Monday and time to share a few albums that to me have amazing artwork. And the following paragraphs are simply my own personal interpretations of the pieces, an apperceptive soliloquy if you will. They have no bearing on the band or the artist, just me as a fan and appreciator of beautiful things and good music.


Morbid Angel: Illud Divinum Insanus
Artwork by Gustavo Sazes

The title suggests insanity. The reds and yellows of the image suggest something primal and necessary for survival. In yogic terms, they refer to the first two chakras that represent basic survival and creativity/sexuality. One may assume that it’s the need for a self-identity, a self-awareness of a sane individual. Most of us struggle at one point in time about who we are, what defines us…and faith/belief/religion/spirituality is included in that. But perhaps this imagery is even larger than the self, and may be of a divine insane. The iconic imagery of the pentagram on the (3) hands and the waxing Pagan moon at the center suggest something more religious. The face is masked and perhaps it’s a mask of ignorance, or denial. Or even confusion. Tyler Durden of Fight Club and Achilles of Troy suggest that the gods are jealous of humans. That each moment for us is special, because it could be our last. Because we can do things they can’t…fuck, for example. Maybe this mirrors humanities confusion on the face of the divine. We don’t know what the divine actually looks like, and so it is masked. But the downward turn of the head suggests a reverence perhaps, or perhaps a wonder at human hands and the possibilities. The artist does a fantastic job bringing together all of these ideas and with precision fuses the elements together to present us with an interesting piece that can be looked out for hours.

Morbid Angel's album cover
Morbid Angel's album cover

Dissection: Maha Kali
Artwork by “unsure”

I can’t seem to find who originated this artwork and for this I apologize. If you happen to know, please comment and I will give appropriate credit. This album has only two songs and is associated with Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. Kali means “the black one” and is she who destroys, hence the skulls. She was the killer of demons, a fierce feminine force, bathed in blood red. This is a quality representation of her and is a reminder of the balance of energies…that females can also be strong and dominating. The artist does a great job capturing the energy and force behind Kali, and doesn’t seem afraid to exploit her demonic side. And for Dissection to embody her on this album: sic.

Dissection album cover
Dissection album cover

Enthroned: Pentagrammation
Artwork done by Nornagest & Neraath (of Enthroned)

A seemingly ghostly existence in a humble prayer pose. An anonymous individual on their knees. Blind Faith? A dying religious belief? The fading colors and feathery bleeds of the individual are tombstone in quality. I get the feeling of a quiet reserve praying to an unknown. Circles encompass the background, big and small, maybe they’re just images, maybe they denote the circuitous nature of existence. Birth. Life. Death. Birth. Life. Death. The kneeling figure is clearly highlighted and the focus of it, at the middle of the pentagram.  To the Sumerian’s, the pentagram may have meant pitfall and to the Babylonian’s may have had astrological meanings. Pythagoreans saw the pentagram as a mathematical perfect and Chinese Wu Xing saw it as representing the five elements. In the context of Enthroned, perhaps it means them all, and that they all encompass humanity. The idea and image is haunting. The artistic execution of the piece is great. The merging of the human image with the background is seamless and the color blends well. I appreciate the implied vignette as well. It compliments the circles and reinforces the focus on the praying, veiled, human.

Enthroned album cover
Enthroned album cover

Dimmu Borgir: Abrahadabra
Artwork by Joachim Luetke

“I will create as I speak” ~ Aleister Crowley. This is an intriguing merge of Crowley and H.P. Lovecraft. Bleak and post-industrial, the hollowed eyes and mouth suggest the unseeing and the unheard. Perhaps we are gods robots, set blindly on this earth to function without direction and without support. Being watched with indifference until our world explodes. The industrial nature eradicates the organic and replaces it with the mechanical, maybe we are becoming our own Frankensteins. Blue is the throat Chakra in yogic philosophy. The chakra of expression. The stillness and futile nature of the mouth makes me believe that we are unheard, silenced, perhaps from a religious or political standpoint. The artist does a great job of blending a variety of elements together, and the details of this piece make it a great success.

Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover

These are just a few that I love. Check back next Monday for the next Metal-album artwork Monday!

Exploring decay

I’m not really sure where I am headed with this image. I know it’s not really how you are supposed to start out a new project. I just know that I wanted to explore decay. The decay of a perception of someone, the lack of understanding of someone’s interior, so only the observation of the exterior makes sense. But since the two are not the same, decay of a relationship can occur. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but here is the start of my digital exploration. It’s just the beginning…


Warhol as a Designer: an Experience

“He became an artist for people who knew very little about art.” Arthur C Danton

I recently went to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Myhner gallery at the University of Denver. I had seen a larger portion of his work in Colorado Springs a few years ago, but my experience then wasn’t what I experienced today.

I’m surprised that I suddenly think Andy Warhol was more influential in my career field than I thought. I thought of him as an eccentric entity of society that exploited the common household item, portraits, sexuality…he brought prints to life in a way that was unique. A new form of expression that changed the ideas of society. And he was all of this. But in terms of me considering today’s society and looking back on Andy Warhol, was he able to see society in terms of graphic design without today’s technology?

[cincopa AkLAlc6gM5Ds]

“This is so universal. I’ve seen it a million times in magazines and the such. But this is he first time I’ve been to an exhibit and seen it for real. It’s about time.” My Dad

Andy Warhol designed for the masses. His designs are pop art. We all learned this in Art History class. What I didn’t consider then though, was that his work seems to be a style of graphic design today. He explores the same image with a variety of different applications/effects applied to them. Or he takes a product and markets it in a way that is art. It seems to me, that’s what we do today. It’s like an early form of vector graphics and marketing.

“…every room here at the motel [has] cans with flowers in them, and I mean, I’m so tired of the Campbell’s Soup Can I could throw up.” Monday, Aug 31, 1981 Colorado.

Today, we study trends. We tweet and blog about “the top minimalistic designs”  or “top flourish photoshop brushes.” We see a variation on a theme in our magazine ads, websites, brochures, annual reports, email marketing campaigns…Andy first brought this idea of mass design in terms of Campbell Soup and Mick Jagger. He made an artform out of album covers with the Velvet Underground at the forefront (something I personally love and hit the record stores just to peruse the amazing art on CD covers. Makes me sad to think that the art of album cover print design may be fading. Anyway.) and did movies of ordinary people. People like us.

“Not everybody in my movies are degenerates. Just 99.9% of them.”

No, I’m not calling us, our clients or our target audience degenerates. But I am calling us the masses. The masses that Andy Warhol first started designing for. He went for simple, basic and yet strong, making a statement. It was influential and changed the way people thought about products, life and ideas. He did what we designers try to do everyday. And yet at the same time it was robotic and conforming. The same image over and over, the same thing over and over. The redundancy may be a contributor to his success. Maybe in an effort to organize society in a singular pattern, he exploded the creativity and minds of the masses.

I don’t know if any of this is valid, and some of it is quite obvious. However, it was a unique experience to me to view Andy Warhol as a designer, and not just an artist. When it comes down to it though, maybe what inspired me the most about Andy Warhol, was his courage.

I strive to have that kind of courage.

In any event, the only way to end an Andy Warhol exhibit is at Stogies and Bogeys, a cigar shop that had great music, great ambiance, good drinks and great cigars.

[cincopa AQEAUc6aMVbv]

Learning to accept feedback

I realize that taking feedback and having your designs criticized can be hard news to take. Your put your time, effort and sometimes your heart and soul into a piece only to have someone else, your friend, coworker, art director (but I find never your mother) doesn’t like it. I admitedly strugle with that myself. There are a few people whose opinions I care about and when they don’t sing my artistic praises, I get a little jaded.

The key here, is to stop, take a minute and find out what they are saying, if it’s true and if it can help you grow. I have to tell myself to stop taking it so personally and as an insult (though my art can, at times, be incredibly personal) and listen to what they have to say. There have been times that I absolutely agree with what they say and can see how dramatically improved the piece can be if I take their suggestions. And there have been times that I honestly don’t agree with what they say, and recognize it as style preference differences. And that’s okay (and less it’s your art director and her word is sacred).

I do find, though, that HOW feedback is delivered can affect how well you accept it. For example, I just had a meeting with my art director to discuss a direct mail piece I am designing. The first words out of her mouth were ” I don’t like this header this way. I find it completely unattractive.” It was one header out of five different options, one of which she did like. Instead of saying, I prefer this header b/c I like these elements this way, she chose to immediately talk about the one she found so unattractive. Immediately, I’m jaded and have to work to convince myself to start listening to her again to hear the rest of the feedback, some of which were excellent points.

I don’t think I’m the only one out there that things how you deliver feedback is important. I am a total sandwich feedbacker (and it may also be time to eat some breakfast). I say something I like, something I don’t, and something I do. I’m curious how other people style their feedback.

First step in designing a Hospital website…

is coffee. an absolute must in morning healthcare website design. The caffeine pulsing through my veins somehow makes my vision acute, so I can pay closer attention to detail. It really is a remarkable beverage.

Thus, while my program launches, I am off to the coffee pot. Yummy.