You might not know his name yet…but once you learn it, you will never forget it. Uzi Emperado is part of the new breed of artists who do work for metal bands, that is using all styles and technology to his advantage. His work is gritty, hyper-detailed and just downright cool…
How did you get your first paying art job?
For a couple of years, I did graffiti for fun before I started making a living out of my art. My friend and fellow artist/designer, Nick, liked my work and asked me to paint the walls of his local tee store/boutique. Back then, he was one of the big names when designing band merch was still only starting to boom. I got interested in what he was doing, did more research on the subject of freelance illustration, and bought my very first graphics tablet with the money he paid me for the mural. The rest is history.
Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before?
People would notice my work from 3-4 years ago might look different from my current style. But I believe that was because I got into art school, and in art school they teach you a certain way to paint/draw things. Although my art still contained an affinity for grit and texture, my work then was more painterly, as opposed to my current illustrating style, and often included realistic rendering of people.
My work from around 6 years ago, however, looks quite close to my current drawing style: more lines than masses of color, lots of grit, dark, and angry. I always love to experiment though. At the moment, I’m trying to incorporate the two styles together.
The materials/medium you work with can affect your style too.
Who are your artistic influences?
Renaissance and Baroque artists, mostly. I know very little names in the comic book industry, but I love to look at their work. I also enjoy tattoo art, and religious iconography from classical times.
Specific names include Simon Bisley, Derek Noble, Caravaggio, Albrecht Duhrer.
What words best describe your artistic style?
Friends like to call my work “highly-detailed”. I always tell people that I do not always aim for detail and lots of lines, but rather it’s a result of how hyper and manic I can get when I’m illustrating.
As for subject matter, I like to keep it dark, angry, and painful.
What is your connection to Godmachine?
He is my brother from another mother. We always joke about asking his parents to adopt me. But seriously speaking, I honestly wouldn’t mind at all. He’s got the coolest, and sweetest mom ever. She occasionally sends me messages online, saying she enjoys my art, and asks me how I’ve been, and I imagine her saying those quite hospitably in a Welsh accent haha what was the question again?
Tell us about your studio space?
I have a dual-monitor set up (one for work, one for my e-mails/twitter/movies), I use a medium-size Intuos4 graphics tablet, and I work on a laptop that needs upgrading. As for decorations, I’ve got a Darth Vader helmet on my desk, a few all-black religious icons, some art prints on the walls, my favorite books, and a bottle of JD.
That’s just my work desk space. I’d love to have a bigger space where I can paint though. That would rule.
Do you work full time doing artwork?
I do, and I wouldn’t have any other way. There are some days when incoming projects are slow, and I doubt myself, and think of getting a regular nine-to-five job like everybody else. Then I realize that I’m up at dawn, drawing ‘til my hands and eyes fall off because I love to do it.
How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
If it’s for a client, I find out what they have in mind, sketch it up and see what works. If they approve, I proceed to inking it on the computer, and then show them one last look at the linework for suggestions/corrections before I finally proceed to color it. If I’m not feeling my own work, I take a break for a couple of days to a week, and forget about the artwork altogether. That way I feel a little detached from my work and see my mistakes better.
Tell us about the creation of album artwork for Sleep Serapis Sleep as I think it really shows your ability to work in a style not seen in your shirts designs.
Although, with the SSS album cover, I worked in a style you don’t usually see in my tee designs, it’s nothing that I haven’t done before. Back in college I worked with paint all the time, mostly painting people. I’m always trying to do something different. When SSS hit me up to do their album art for them, I jumped in on the chance. I loved working on the album cover, and I’m really happy I’m starting to get more projects where I can try and illustrate painterly.
What are you currently working on?
Currently working on album artwork for a Melodic Death metal band from Winnipeg. I’m quite excited since, once more, I get to work full color.
Do you have any dream projects?
I’d love to do an art show at one of the bigger galleries in the country, and piss people off with drawings of Satan haha. But really, I think I’d like to have more time (and money) to do personal work.
What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Tough question! I’ll have you know I answered this one last haha. I try to listen to a lot of new and different tunes out there, but I always go back to my favorites such as Bleeding Through, Converge, and some thrash metal like Nuclear Assault, and Legion Of The Damned. Currently listening to Cancer Bats too. Looking into some Black Metal bands also. Right now I’m also into some jazz rap / hip hop too, some Madvillain, Danger Doom, and J. Dilla.
Name one artist you would you like to see interviewed on Metal Band Art and why?
Johnny Crap. His work obviously comes from very different influences, but it’s still very beautiful, and metal.
Check out more work at: uziemperado.com