Minggu, 20 September 2009

Interviews with Arik Moonhawk Roper

Saya suka artwork karya dia, lalu saya mencari dan mengumpulkan beberapa interview mengenai Erik Roper melalui internet yang tentu saya menurut saya keren dan representatif. Dia juga baru saja menerbitkan bukunya MUSHROOM MAGICK a visionary field guide. Saya baca review dan interviewnya di Revolver Magazine cukup memukau.

Ini dia interviewnya saya ambil antara tahun 1994-2009 di interview oleh Tom Denney dan saya ambil dari Graphic Violence Revolver magazine. Enjoy it!

Acclaimed NYC visual artist and illustrator Arik Roper’s work has become an essential part of the aesthetic to underground heavy (that’s not to say “stoner”) rock and doom. Posters, album covers, shirt designs for the likes of He makes art from trees.Sleep (both Jerusalem and Dopesmoker), Southern Lord Recordings, Rise Above Records, StonerRock.com, Buzzov*en, Eyehategod, High on Fire, Boris, Ancestors, Mammatus and countless others have made Roper’s trademark epic and highly detailed style a visual staple every bit as important as Orange amps blasting out Sabbath riffs. There are many albums that just wouldn’t be the same without it.

With one book — Mushroom Magick: A Visionary Field Guide — already under his belt and ever-more praise and exposure being heaped upon his work, Roper’s growing reputation has him high in the running for one of this generation’s most recognizable artists in or out of the metal underground. His pieces maintain signature elements, like common wavelengths running through them, while subject matter and inspiration vary widely. Blue.Adaptable and distinctive, he shows not only the technical development attained from his time at New York’s School of the Visual Arts, but a natural talent which can come only with time, practice and innate ability.

Roper was kind enough recently to take some time out and discuss via email his artistic process and evolution, how he got started drawing and which piece of classic cover art he most wishes had been his own. Interview is after the jump.

Where are you from originally as opposed to where you live and work now.
I grew up in Richmond, VA , I've been living in New York City since 1991.

How long have you been making art professionally.
When I was in art school , about age 19, I started doing paid freelance work , some logos and graphics for skatewear companies and bands.

How did you develop your style of crusty hillbilly creatures, is it self taught.
I'm not really sure where that stared. Kirk from Buzzoven kinda looked like a culmination of those characters, dirty, ragged, burned out. Maybe I was trying to capture that look when I was drawing this dog character for some Buzzoven things. I later I started doing more of those characters. Also , the Disney movie "Song of the South" was a big influence on me when I was really young. Brer Fox and Brer Bear somehow got into my mind and a lot of those wasted looking animal-type hillbilly characters were probably influenced by that. I haven't seen that movie in close to 30 years , since it's been buried by Disney.

Do you make any music of your own.
I play music with some friends. We call ourselves Mountains of Mata Llama. We've got a practice space in Harlem so once a week we get together and play. I guess you could call it "heavy -psychedelic-mind-rock". I've recently been thinking of starting up a new musical project based on eastern scale music, combined with thick atomospheric drone.

What form of medium do you prefer, and do you find digital methods over-rated.
I prefer to draw with pen and ink , either with a croquil pen and india ink or a fineline marker. I use watercolors , paint, colored pencils, and permanent markers for color. I do use Photoshop and Illustrator sometimes to create imagery , but it's a different approach. I normally don't try to recreate an organic look with a computer because it usually looks too synthetic. I often treat Photoshop as a silkscreening process, I'll digitally create multiple subtle layers and combine them to make rich backdrops.
I think the digital process can be used wisely in some respects. Obviously if you want to create a sharp graphic image or typeface it's ideal, and using Photoshop to alter and bring out color is very useful. The problem I see with most digital methods is the laziness and lack of originality that easily comes with it . There's something so hollow about computer art when it's done poorly. People use the same fonts and generic effects so everything looks the same, there's no personality to it. It's soulless and cold. There are people making ads and alleged "art" who don't have an artistic eye, but they have a computer. The person should direct the machine , not the other way around.

How did you aquire the name Moonhawk.
Moonhawk is my real middle name. it's on my birth certificate. Yes, my parents were hippies, but it's also partly a family name. Moon was my grandmother's maiden name. Somewhere along the way someone printed Moonhawk with quotation marks aound it which makes it look like a self appointed stoner name, but it's real.

Who are some of your favorite artists that you look to for inspiration.
Greg Irons, Moebius, Rick griffin, Vaughn Bode, Jim Woodring, Ernst Fuchs, Roger Dean, Ian Miller, Hipgnosis, Barney Bubbles...others, many others.

Do you feel it's part of an artists responsibility to look at and critique society vices, and shortcommings.
I don't think it's a "responsibility" for an artist. I think the very act of creating is more of a responsibility if there is one. Because artists can transfer thoughts into a tangible form then perhaps an artist can reach more people and influence them and in that case an artist may want to use that platform to say something useful or profound.
At this point, considering the state of the world, i think everyone should be critiquing society and it's countless shortcommings. We're living in an absurd world of illusion, insanity, and deceit and it's getting stranger every day. People seem to be growing in different directions, some are going to down the road of fear and blindness and some are opening their eyes and looking for truth. All Those who will acknowledge society's problems should critique it.

How did you first get into fantasy art and how did you make the jump from there to doing art for bands?
I started off on underground comix and Heavy Metal magazine when I was a kid. There’s a lot of crossover with fantastic art and music so naturally I got into album covers. I was into all the 60s/70s psychedelic stuff as well as the fantasy metal album art. That imagery fueled my imagination, I loved the combination of art and music. Like most people, Pushead was an influence. I liked what he did for Zorlac Skateboards and Metallica particularly. In high school, and especially after, I started to doing flyers and shirt designs for some bands and it took off from there.

How technical are you as an artist? You went to school for it, but before that, when you were first starting out, were you self-taught? How did your style develop to where it is today?
I began drawing when I was around three years old, I barely recall a time when I wasn’t doing it. I learned some things from my parents in terms of skills; my mother was an illustrator also. By the time I went to art school, I was well into developing a style. I went through some phases with that. I was mostly into the One of those dudes is Greg Anderson.detailed Pushead, Berni Wrightson, Vaughn Bode, Rick Griffin, Frazetta fantasy style when I got to school, but then graffiti became influential to me in the early 90s, so for a while I went into that bold graphic style . By the mid 90s I was so sick of the graffiti influence that I had almost no interest in it. I then kind of came back to the roots of what I was into before, more detailed surrealism fantasy and sci-fi art and classic illustration from the past few centuries.

Is there a particular piece that youre most proud of? A theme you like working best with?
No particular piece that I like the most, but some I like more than others. I’m open to different ideas and themes, I like landscapes and environments. I’ve been moving into studies of shapes and figures and different mediums. I’m more interested in developing real understandings of natural forms, figures, real life illustrations, light and shadows, human forms, etc. I think artists need to keep growing and expanding their visions, there’s a lot of redundancy in the heavy music art field. It’s been inundated with bones and skulls. I’d personally rather look for inspiration in other parts of the world and I’ve been getting more into “classic” art and painting as fuel for ideas.

Kind of had to throw this one in.If you compare the art for (just an example) Earths The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull and High on Fire's Death is this Communion [lead image of the feature, above], they show completely different palettes. Are you usually given some idea of what the band or label is looking for visually, or is it up to what you hear in the music?
It’s mostly up to me in all aspects. I try to coax ideas form the bands but often I’m the one who comes up with some ideas and proposes them, then we decide on one. With Death is this Communion, I wanted it to have a bleak unsaturated look, very stark and earthy. On The Bees Made Honey in the Lion.s Skull the palette was the opposite. Dylan [Carlson] from Earth had an idea for that one. He wanted very vivid colors along the lines of Hindu art which was something I referred to. The title relates to a passage form the Bible. I research facets of the themes such as that when working. If a theme refers to a literary or historical event or anything else that isn’t entirely made up by the artist, I’ll study those things while It's really nice to be able to put these things right here so it's clear what the hell I'm talking about. Plus they're badass looking.brainstorming. It gives the work a more informed vibe even if it’s not literally spelled out in the art.

A lot of your work has one or two central figures on a large, epic background, sometimes very sparse. What do you feel is the interaction between those depicted and their surroundings in your work?
I’m not sure what that signifies, it’s not often deliberate. Maybe just my preference for composing. I do like the mysteriousness of a figure being alone in a world or up against some natural part of the landscape. It also works well compositionally for me. I tend to have a focal point and much of the surrounding will be drawing the eye toward the focus as opposed to a busy image in which a lot of things are happening at once.

One piece of cover art you wish you'd done?
I guess Space Ritual by Hawkwind. That album is one hell of a combo of elements, the graphic design by Barney Bubbles is perfect. Obviously there are too many others to name but that one stands out as something I’d like to have come up with.

more Arik roper's artwork

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