Pär Olofsson’s dark surrealist vision is instantly recognizable as he has created some of the most epic metal album covers. He has done art for such bands as Immolation, Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, Exodus, Pathology and Job for a Cowboy. It is with great pleasure that MBA presents one of the Modern Masters of metal cover art….Pär Olofsson
How did you get your first paying art job?
The first metal related piece I got paid for was the viking Deeds of Flesh used in the booklet for Crown of Souls. I had sent e-mails to 7 or 8 labels asking for work and the only reply I got was from Unique Leader records. Deeds of flesh then used the viking on the cover of a live dvd, so I got very good exposure for a first job. Continued working on a couple of Unique Leader releases and even if the first couple of years were slow I had gotten a pretty good start.
Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before?
The style I’m currently known for is something that has evolved through the years and is still growing, changing. It´s like an evolution that never ends and you can never predict what it will be like in 10 years from now. When painting in oils however my style is more realistic in color and form, very traditional and unexciting. And to keep me alert and avoiding getting to comfortable with working on a computer I’ve also picked up drawing with ink.
Who are your artistic influences?
If you had asked me 15 years ago I would say Simon Bisley, H.R Giger and horror movies but then the internet came and the list of influences is now infinite and still growing. It can be frustrating at times to get so much input, it´s hard to know what to do with all the influences. If a brain could vomit I´m sure mine would do from time to time.
Tell us about your studio space?
I actually have two work spaces. One at home in the “library” that is more for traditional painting, mostly oil. I also share a large office space with a few mates. Some are graphic designers and a couple are programmers so it’s a pretty mixed lot but that is also very stimulating. I have my computer, wacom tablet, light table, scanner and art supplies. The wall is covered with drawings and prints of my work. Coffee and ink stains gives it all a nice patina.
How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
First off, I talk with the band, often they have a concept or a specific idea they want to do. So I make a really rough sketch based on our conversation and send it to them. Sometimes it takes a couple of these rough sketches before it feels good enough to continue. I make a more complex sketch, often with pen on paper, scan it and set the color scheme. After that it’s mostly detailing and small adjustments. I send work in progress images to the band throughout the entire process.
What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
I´m moving towards an analog way of working. A year ago I´d do most covers 100% digital but now I spend more and more time working with pen and paper. Maybe next year I´ll do a lot of the actual painting with paint and brushes.
Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
Most of it comes from my head but I use reference images sometimes. Typical things that are hard to draw are hands.
Do the bands give you any direction?
Some do more than others. A good project gives me a lot or total artistic freedom with one person from the band nodding and saying -yes, this is all good! A difficult project has all members making comments that sometimes even contradict each other. Someone has a clear image in their head what the piece should look like and that will never happen. But luckily most often it’s the first case scenario.
Do you listen the band’s music when you work on their project?
Yeah it happens but I let my mood decide what to listen to first hand.
Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
Hard work and patience has been working out pretty good for me.
What are you currently working on?
I was about to get started on a matte painting for a Candlemass video but just got the word that the label had scrapped the project. Really bad news. Also I’m working on some personal projects and looking into selling some prints.
Have you ever turned down a project?
Sure, when a concept has been too far away from my comfort zone or presented no challenge at all I have kindly turned down projects. Also I’m no longer the biggest fan of painting gore.
Do you have any dream projects?
Nothing specific, would like to work on a large scale project, something that would last a longer period of time so I could really explore.
What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
That question should be asked on ones death bed, then I would know who my all time favorites would be. But today I’m listening to Meshuggah’s latest album, I’m also going through some old Absu albums.
Who would you like to see featured on MBA?
The only person that comes to mind right now, that I really would like to know or know more of is Geof Darrow. He’s not really a metal band artist but his work (especially Hard Boiled) is gorgeous.