Hal Rotter’s artwork crushes…I mean he really kills it…He has a dark gritty almost cosmic style which pulls you in as soon as you look at it. If I had to call it something, I would say simply “evil surrealism.” Needless, to say he is perfect choice for MBA….let the fun begin:
How did you get your first paying art job?
Well when I started messing around with photoshop in High School I was just always making art/designs for the bands I was in at the time. I really looked up to a lot of the artist who were sort of doing the same thing, playing music, making art. So I just really went for it and started advertising myself online, putting stuff up for sale and it just took off from there.
Who are your artistic influences?
Its really hard for me to pick favorites man, I’m influenced by so many different styles and types of artists, but for the sort of “style” I go for I guess, I’d have to say Ive always been a huge fan of Seth Siro Anton and really enjoy the amazing work of Colin Marks. Ive also been recently obsessed with art of Menton J. Matthews. aka “Menton3″
Describe your art style in three words or less.
Dark. Apocalyptic. Misanthropic.
Take us through a typical day work day.
Well, I’ll wake up, pound the insanely strong coffee that Skinner always makes in the morning, I sleep upstairs in his studio so my desk/work station is right below me. Turn on the computer, get some music playing then bullshit with Skinner about whatever that’s on our minds, then figure out what we’re going to work on for the day which can in include anything from merch design, album covers, editing videos to replying to a shitload of emails.
Is Rotter your real last name?
Hahaha yes, it is actually. People always ask me that.
How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
All my work is made in Photoshop and basically is just a vast mixture of texturing and photo-manipulation and mixed media. I’ll start with the rough idea/concept with a simple sketch sometimes but mostly the image is just there in my head and I really just keep building and experimenting upon it until I’m satisfied with how it looks. Some pieces of work take anywhere from a just few days or even up to a month.
Do you have a massive Wacom tablet & what kind of computer do you use?
I actually have a little tablet, just one of the small Bamboo models. I’m not exactly stacked with cash so my materials are pretty limited, which I really don’t need much at all, I kind of like it that way… But both Mac computers I own have died out on me recently, the other I owned before that was stolen. They were just older models, G4′s..nothing special. So now, for the moment, until I can afford a new Mac, I’ve just been working on a Dell laptop…not exactly a huge fan of PC’s but I shouldn’t complain. Really trying to save up for a nice new computer that can keep up with me.
What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
All of my work is done in Photoshop, basically all my art is a simple mixture of photography, a lot of texturing and recently I just got my first pen tablet a little over 6 months ago, so I’m still getting a little used to that. In High School I just went crazy with my old camera, walking everywhere around town, capturing every little crack in the cement, rust stain on the wall, any texture and image I could find that I thought would look sick in my collection. I have thousands of textures on my hard-drive, a little habit of mine.
Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
Most of it all just comes from some dark corner in my mind. But sometimes I’ll use some reference, mostly if a band commissions me for some art and they send a bunch of examples or rough ideas. I have a lot of fucked up re-accruing dreams that are very detailed, most are very dark and apocalyptic. Most of them have to do with the end of the world where everyone around me is dying… or where I’m observing some sort of galactic breakdown of the universe. I actually had a pretty intense dream the other day where some sort of gigantic hole in the sky has ripped open and I’m just starring into this dark void, watching all the planets and stars falling into nothingness….so that’s actually going to be another concept for my next piece of art once I have the time to sit down and work on it.
Do the bands give you any direction?
Most of them have the idea already before contacting me and I’ll just build off of the general theme. As for all the others, some have small basic ideas or directions and they just let me run with it, I feel I can get really creative with those jobs, those are the most fun.
Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
If you’re truly passionate about your art and you really just push yourself with confidence and hard work, you will find your path.
What merch companies do you work for? And is it difficult to get in touch with them?
My only jobs for merch companies have been collaborations with Skinner. Some of the most recent ones were a couple shirt designs for Vans, another for Hurley…not exactly my kind of “merch” but work is work and I can’t complain. Plus its always fun working with Skinner, taking bong-rips and collaborating on designs!
What was it like doing artwork for Cattle Decapitation?
Working for Cattle was fucking awesome! I remember my brothers friend showing me one of their CD’s when I was 15 and then ran to the record store, bought and became obsessed with their album Humanure shortly after, which I still enjoy very much to this day! But I’ve always been a huge fan of not only their music but the lyrics and concepts as well. I don’t eat meat and share the same love for animals and the same hatred for the human race as they do, so it works out perfectly. The first shirt I did for them was “Into The Public Bath” which was a piece I had up for sale on my web-store that caught their eye and just so happened to match the theme of one of the songs, basically a corpse decomposing in a tub. So they wanted two shirt designs from me that used on one of their tours a couple years ago. The second design called “I Decapitate” which is basically a butcher with a skinned cow skull for a head, holding a severed human head, which was an idea I pitched to Travis, the singer, he gave me the approval and I grinded the design out in a few days and they loved it. It was definitely a rad experience working with Cattle Decap, Travis is a really nice, down to earth guy and we became friends after working together, afterwards he hooked my old band up with a few shows with them a couple years ago, I couldn’t have been more stoked!
What are you currently working on?
I finally just finished a 172 page layout for Skinner’s book of his art, which is being published by Gingko Press, I’m pretty stoked on that. I’m always juggling all sorts of random jobs here and there, I’ve been pretty overloaded the past couple months actually. Just finished some cover artwork/merch designs for some really close friends of mine in the band Goreskin Coffin. Also I am currently working on some new art for my band Plague Widow.
Do you have any dream projects?
Hmmm, well really if I could just make art for every one of the bands I love and listen to…I guess that would be sick enough.
Who are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Damn dude, once again I can’t really pick favorites, but if I had to pick one I’d have to say that Death has pretty much been one of the most influential bands for me, my brother’s friend Dean gave me the album Leprosy when I was in 8th grade and I listened to it every day for like a year straight, learned the entire album on guitar. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Portal, Funeral Mist, 1349, …Conquering the Throne by Hate Eternal (love their old stuff)..always get my Grind fix with (old) Napalm Death, Discordance Axis, Cthulhu Youth, Insect Warfare and I just saw the band Bloody Phoenix live the other night, they fucking shred and are extremely nice dudes.