There are certain artists who are really starting to take off in the metal art scene and Joshua Andrew Belanger is one of them. Although, he has been working for a while, it seems like recently every time I turn around I see another one of his designs. He has a distinct style with a massive amount of fluid line-work which falls somewhere between old horror comics and modern metal merch artists. He has done shirt designs and album covers for various bands such as Heaven shall Burn, War From a Harlots Mouth and Amon Amarth. Behold the illustrative madness of Joshua Andrew Belanger…
How did you get your first paying art job?
I had done a few here and there for a printing place in college, but nothing serious. I guess what really kicked off me thinking I could do this was my friend’s husband played guitar in Montreal hardcore band Final Word. They saw my stuff and asked if I could do a tee, and it got such a good reaction they asked for more. It’s snowballed ever since.
Who are your artistic influences?
I’m a huge comic nerd, so I’d have to say I pull a lot from about a thousand different comic artists. Chris Bachelo, Joe Mad, Travis Charest, Juan Jose Ryp, Mcniven, Moore, and of course Todd McFarlane while growing up, just to name a few. But I’m constantly blown away by a ton of dudes in, and that teeter around, my industry. Godmachine, Angry Blue, Horkey, Derek Deal, Florian, Uzi, Skinner, Sin-Eater, Paul Romano, Nimit Malavia just to toss some out there.
What words best describe your artistic style?
I like to capture a moment of action in time. I’d eventually like to get to “overwhelming” but I think I’m a long way away, we’ll see, maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t.
How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
Depends on what a brief is looking like. If it’s more loose, I draw from ideas that I have floating around, do a 10-15 second composition sketch, see what can look cool where, then move on to a sloppier slightly tighter sketch. But that’s mostly for the benefit of the client, I absolutely hate redrawing pieces, they lose their magic to me, so if I could go from the sloppy composition sketch straight to inks, I’d be happy.Brew a pot of black gold and sit and ink for 10-15 hours at a time.
What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
I always have paper sketchbooks around me to throw ideas into, but the majority of my work is done on the computer. I have stacks of old ink drawings that I don’t know what to do with, I think they’re horrid so I don’t want to show them off, so they just sit there. Used a regular tablet for a few years, but I just recently got a Cintiq. Still working the bugs out using it, it’s not so much the act of drawing that’s been a rough transition, it’s the use of space and color that’s been an issue. Most of the time switch it off and just use a regular tablet to finish off my work. I’m sure I’ll get it sometime.
Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
I don’t get where the stigma against using reference materials ever came from. A lot of kids refuse to use it (and if they do they just trace) and it shows.. using reference makes your understanding of an object that much better, thus being able to understand it’s weight, its curves, what shadows it casts and about a hundred different things. So yes, I use as much as I can for everything I do. if its not something I have on hand,I’ll go to the library, or putter around online and get 5-6 of the same thing so I can compare and make something of my own. Use reference, it helps you when you don’t have reference.
What bands have you done work for?
quite a few.
What is your favorite project that you have done?
A project that lost funding actually. I was doing a series of record covers for Suicide Silence, and then there was going to be a collected box set. I had crafted a narrative of human beings invoking the spirits of a planet into a corpse, then transferring the spirit to a baby, which would end up being a classic “antichrist” figure. the collected box set art was going to have Armageddon type world destruction but it ended up getting axed at the last second.
Do the bands give you any direction?
Usually. most are loose and it’s just a path they want to head down or lyrics they want to interpret.
Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
Don’t be an asshole and know that it takes time to make a living off of this. Most days are spent alone, working probably more than you would at most jobs. But you don’t answer to anyone and you get to draw skulls for a living so it’s pretty fucking awesome. Oh and if you’re an extremely social person don’t bother, This’ll kill you.
You are very active on Twitter. How much does social media help artists get work?
hahaha am i? think it’s just the fact I’m here inking all day/night. It’s cool to chat with some of the people in your field and friends so you know there’s more to the world than manga studio, photoshop, and youtube. as far as work, I think it’s helped garner friendships, which result in work rather than flat out work.
What are you currently working on?
Just finished a set of ski’s, have about 3 albums, 2 book covers, a comic book, some print work, some video game fantasy illustrations, and I don’t even know how many tees. I guess I’ve learned I’ll never be caught up and you just have to get over it.I’m lucky as hell.
Do you have any dream projects?
I’d love to do comic covers. I’d probably be too nervous and fuck it all up, but I’d love the chance.
Who are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
All time huh? fuck this is hard. musically I’m EVERYWHERE, so I guess I’ll have to say a band I grew up listening to and going to their shows, Scissorfight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ5-ZGB2XX8 & other than that Yndi Halda, Mare, Circle Takes the Square, Battle of Mice, Maybeshewill, The Ocean, The Banner, Eluvium, I could go on forever. right now I’m just stuck on Mike Pattons Mondo Cane album and getting into the grosser side of dubstep like Bare, Borgore, Nightwalker. I know, I know.
Who would you like to see featured on MBA?
I don’t know man, you’re doing a hell of a good job. shoot for Florian or Sin-Eater!!!!
Check out more of his work at: joshuaandrewbelanger.com