Brent Elliott White: Permanent Changes In Consciousness

Let’s take sometime to get to know the amazing….Brent Elliot White

How did you get your first paying art job?

Technically my fist art job was in high school creating illustrations that were used as stills in some college movie. The guys ended up stiffing me so I guess that doesn’t count. Mr. Craven, my cool art teacher, did give me extra credit though. Thanks Mr. Craven! So the first actual paying gig was after college at an animation design studio. I saw an ad in the Village Voice and dropped off my rather humble portfolio. We hit it off so they gave me the chance.
Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before? Not really. I started out using strictly traditional mediums, almost religiously. When you get your first round of edits for a watercolor piece you did for a client you start looking for other methods. Or at least I did. Now I mix it up, I find drawing still works better on good old fashioned paper but I like the benefits of painting digitally.

Who are your artistic influences?
I know it’s a little cliché but a lot of people from the art books. The baroque gave us light. I’m always looking at Caravaggio. The Orientalist painters like Gerome and Belly are awesome. The list goes on. I have some friends that I’m really envious of, Jeff Soto and Regino Gonzales. Google them and you’ll see why.

Tell us about your studio space?
It’s a mess right now, but I’m actually pretty tidy. People not from NYC would think its small. My NYC friends never mention the size but they dig the view. I’m in LIC (Long Island City) which is the first neighborhood across the East River in Queens. I stare at mid town and the UN all day long (and most nights). Pretty great view actually.

How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
Sure. The concept part is always the variable. Different people. Different desires. Sometimes a band will have a solid concept in mind when they come to me, other times it’s completely up to me. There’s lots of in between too. If I’m coming up with the concept I like to have as much info as possible like tracks, lyrics, the actual music if it’s completed. Once we’re set on a concept, I’ll work up a sketch for composition. That’s where all lot of the back and forth happens. More of this, less of that. When we’re set on composition, I’ll go straight into the painting (which I do digitally now). From there, it’s big to small. Dark to light. Rinse. Lather Repeat.

What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
Pen. Pencil. Paper. Computer. Fancy tablet. And scanner. I paint digitally, mostly with a program called Corel Painter. I guess purest would call it “painting” as opposed to just painting. I understand. I used to be that way too. My main tool is a Wacom Cintiq, which is basically a big screen I draw on directly. It really is like traditional painting in many ways, with some fundamental advantages (like zooming in, flipping the canvas and the almighty “undo”).

Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
I definitely use reference, as my style is more on the realistic side and because I have a background in traditional painting. “Get good reference” was beaten into my head all through college. Models. Photos. Anything really. If you can’t find it, make it. Realistic lighting, shadows and clothing folds are very intricate. I have to say, I have some pretty ridiculous shots of myself trying to get a pose. (Need to delete those…thanks for reminding me.)

Do the bands give you any direction?
Sometimes. More often then not, it’s some kind of direction. A few times I just illustrated the exact concept someone came to me with. Other times I came up with it on my own. I now think it works best somewhere in between. A little back and forth. That’s the closest we can get to mind reading.

Do you listen the band’s music when you work on their project?
If it’s a cover most of the time the music isn’t mastered yet. Musicians are as picky as I am about showing unfinished work. I get it. I do give their other music a listen to see what they’re about. To be honest, I don’t listen to anything really heavy while working. Not until the end at least. That’s when I put the melodic instrumentals down and turn it up. Usually accompanied with a good bourbon or two.

Do you have any advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
It’s gonna be hard at first. Like almost anything, you either get into this because A) you’re established or B) you know someone. Both seem impossible to obtain if you don’t already fit that category. I’d say, be persistent. If you’re “trying” to get into metal art it’s likely because you’re a fan. Try to get some merch (tshirts) work from bands directly. Build a portfolio with a consistent style to show. In fact, learn two different consistent styles to show. Also, grow some thick skin. You’ll need it.

What are you currently working on?
I’m getting a graphic novel together which I’ve had very little time to work on over the last year. The name keeps changing but I think we have it down to “Fool’s Paradise”. It’s funny, no demons or skulls. There is a teenage metal band in it though. Elizabeth Poirier is writing it. She’s dope!
Have you ever turned down a project?
Yes, for various reasons. Sometimes we can’t make the money work out. Sometimes it’s timing. And other times, a project just isn’t right for me or I know I’m not right for the project.

Do you have any dream projects?
I had the chance to do the package for Megadeth Endgame. I would have liked to do the cover though. Doing my version of Vic would have been great. I’d like to take some of this into film or animation somehow. It’s always been a passion of mine. Other than that, living the dream would be working on my graphic novel and doing a few covers a year. Especially if those bands tear it up and become the next Megadeth.

What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Favorite all time is Pink Floyd (insert yawns).
Favorite metal band all time is definitely Black Sabbath (with Ozzie sorry Dio).
Current Music: Red Sparrowes, Sun O))), Wolves in the Throne Room and Isis.
Today: Cranes, Neurosis and Palehead.

Any advice for artists that want to work with bands? Who would you like to see featured on MBA?
I love that you have Dave McKean up as a link. Pick his brain for me (and every other artist) please.

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.