Maximum Fluoride: Death Comes Ripping

His art kicks ass and he will not rot your teeth…with work created for a slew of metal bands as well various non-metal bands, Maximum Flouride is ripping shit up…one design at a time…

How did you get your first paying art job?
I think my first paying art job was for my friends band The Living End. I did a CD cover for them. Their guitar player was from the seminal Skate Rock band The Faction. I think they paid me like $100 or something. I think this was around 1987-88?

Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before?
Well, that is a tough one. I work in a few different “styles” I suppose. Sometimes my work is fully hand drawn. Sometimes it is collage done in Photoshop. It really depends on what will work best for whatever project I am working on.

Who are your artistic influences?
Most of my artistic influences are pretty obvious. Frank Kozik, Pushead, Ed Repka, Mad Marc Rude, Ed Roth… The usual suspects for guys my age. Though I really drawn inspiration from a lot of Pop Art like Keith Harring, Warhol, Lichtenstein, etc. There is also some inspiration form the early Death Metal scene with guys like Dan Seagrave.

What words best describe your artistic style?
Man, I dont even know how to answer that. I just like to make shit that looks cool. HaHa!! There isnt much more to it than that. I think of myself as a problem solver. Bands have a need and I fulfill it. That’s enough for me. I love that aspect of it. When I paint I just paint whatever I feel like. No band logos go on my paintings. That part of my art career is just for me.

Where did the name Maximum Fluoride come from?
Good question! My Dad used to be a bit of a Hot Rod pin striper back in the 60′s. He had a cool little MF logo that he used to sign stuff with. He kind of passed it on to me when I started getting serious about art in the 80′s as I am “Jr” and we share the same initials. I still sign all of my art with that logo. Anyway… One day some wise ass was looking at my little insignia and said “whats that stand for? Maximum Fluoride?” I looked at him and said “It does now!” I have been using Maximum Fluoride ever since. It’s not something people are likely to forget even if most people cant properly spell it. HaHa!!

Tell us about your studio space?
Currently my studio space is a mostly contained in the second room of my 2 room apartment. My painting set up is in my living room. I like it that way. I can keep my commercial art world in the office and my painting situation out in the other room. I like to keep them apart. My painting time is important and therapeutic. So, it’s nice to have it out in the big sunny open room. I am a pretty neat and organized person so my space isnt jammed full of stuff like I am some kind of Mad Scientist. I do have my fair share of toys, DVD’s etc around here though. They just tend to be pretty organized.

When you create art for a band…Do you listen to their music during the process?
It depends on the band really. I do a lot of work for big mainstream bands. Generally I dont spend much time listening to that stuff while I work. Maybe a little in the beginning to get my head into it. Some of those bands I might not have ever even heard before so I have to go check them out to see what I’m getting into. If it is one of the smaller underground bands I work for I tend to listen to their music more while I work. But, in general I just keep my iTunes on shuffle and work to whatever comes on. Which will generally be Grindcore based on the shear amount of that stuff I have in my library. I like Grindcore.

Take us through a typical day.
Well that depends on what you consider the beginning and end of a day? I generally work till about 4am or so. I go to bed and wake up around 11. I spend an hour or so playing my Scrabble turns online and reading email. I then usually fuck around on Facebook and update my website etc until 2 or 3pm. Then it’s work time. Try to do all of my sketches and revisions first so people have time to look at them and send back comments. I move onto projects that have approved concepts for the rest of the evening. I try to work on whatever painting I have going at the time a few times a week.   Till 4am. 7 days a week.

How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
Depends on the project really. I start with rough sketches. Usual they are REALLY rough thumbnails. After the client and I have worked out which direction we are going I move to hunting down reference images. From there I either start assembling things in Photoshop or I start the hand drawn art. If I am drawing the image I generally use a Pentel Pocket Brush and Micron pens on Bristol board. Color is done in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. Pretty standard production tools by today’s standards.

Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
I use reference for nearly everything. It’s really the best way to improve. Most people dont have the type of memory that allows them to know exactly what anything will look like simply from memory. So, having some reference helps a lot with that type of thing. Sometimes I work straight from my mind if it’s some type of monster or something that doesn’t exist in reality. I also tend to use a lot of reference for color and lighting. Those are the areas I struggle with so I try to keep a good folder full of reference.

Do the bands give you any direction?
Thats about 50-50. I prefer a band to have at least some idea of what they want. It helps cut down on the concept phase of the project. Sometimes the band leaves it up to me. The freedom in that situation is great. It seems to be increasingly rare though.

Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
The most important advice I can give is this: Get paid. Never work for free. Ever. Not only do you devalue yourself but you devalue this profession. If your work is good enough for a band to use on their merch or for a person to hang in their house, then it’s good enough for them to pay for it. Bands have to pay for rehearsal space, guitars, drums, etc Why shouldnt they pay YOU for the one thing that bands actually make money on these days? Stick to your guns on this one! I have been on both sides as a band member and working with bands. Get paid! And do as much work as possible all the time. You can never practice enough or get too good. Never give up. Never wait around for the moment you feel like you are good enough. Just keep going. Art is a hard career.

What are you currently working on?
Tonight I was working on a CD cover for the band P.O.O.R. They are a Grind band from Ventura County California. Good stuff. Old School Grindcore. I am also currently in the sketch phase of a new shirt for High On Fire. At this moment waiting to hear back from those dudes about sketches I sent. My schedule is about 8 projects deep right now so I have a ton of stuff going on. A skateboard for Fang, some 7″ art for Violence of Humanity/ Sorrower split, a shirt for a crust band from Norway called Livstid, some logo work for anew TV Network….. all kinds of stuff. I have the best job in the world.

Do you have any dream projects?
I have been pretty lucky to work for almost every band I could want. I would for sure like to do some work for Napalm Death. I think they were on some posters I have done over the years but, I’d really like to do a shirt for them.

What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
For the last year I have been listening to Despise You a lot. All time favorite bands? Slayer, Thin Lizzy, Napalm Death, Entombed, Misfits, Rotten Sound, The Rolling Stones, Nasum, Ice Cube, Exhumed…it’s a never ending list.

You are one of the people that a bunch of people have asked to see on MBA. What artists would you like to see profiled on the site?
John Santos, Tom Denny, Ryan Kasparian, Brian Mercer would be names that would come to mind. You already have Belanger and Roper on the site or they would be on the list as well.

About Vertebrae33

Through hard work and dedication, Vertebrae33 has established himself as one of the most prolific and exciting illustrators on the scene today.  He has received much acclaim as of late for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and wholly unique, raw style.