“Strange Waste” is the latest sonic conjuring by Detroit-based Punk metallers, Child Bite. An EP with such a distinctive title and manic musical aggression clearly needed a fitting cover—an image to convey (or contain) the madness inside. That’s why vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Shawn Knight, decided to take the bull by the horns and create the recording’s artwork.
The result is partly disturbing and psychedelic but also beautiful to look at. Metal Band Art briefly interviewed Shawn about the process of putting his vision together—and at the service of his band’s music.
Who came up with the idea/concept for this cover and what inspired it?
SK: I generally do the art for our band, so the rest of the guys trust me to come up with whatever direction I feel like pursuing. We title our records as a group; each submitting a couple ideas and then we vote on them. This time around Clancy (bassist) submitted the winning title, “Strange Waste.” So I had that to work with – ha! I also write the lyrics for our songs, which are often every day topics written in a colorful, fantastic way. Other tunes are totally abstract, while others are fictional stories. This leaves visual interpretation pretty wide open. The only constant throughout this latest era of the band (2012-now) has been my illustrations & bright colors. As far as the concept for this particular release, it was more inspired by me just wanting to draw a large scale, fucked up landscape. A strange wasteland?
As one of the band’s members… was it a natural progression for you to be in charge of designing the artwork?
SK: Definitely. I’ve been doing art & music for as long as I can remember, and they always overlap. Early memories include trying to emulate Pushead’s Metallica skulls in my middle school notebooks. I handled the art for all of my high school bands tapes & flyers. I’ve always handled the art for Child Bite records & merch (either completely or collaboration), but it wasn’t until “Monomania” (2012) that I established a look for the band to stick with. It makes sense for a band to handle as many of the non-music responsibilities as possible themselves. Nobody is ever going to care about your band as much as you do. Plus, you can’t beat the price.
What’s the technique/medium you used to create the artwork?
SK: All of my illustrations are done with Sharpies and then colored in Photoshop. Usually I draw small portions of a piece, scan the pieces and then assemble in the computer. This time around I wanted to do a single large scale illustration, so I bought a 40″x20″ art board to serve as my canvas. I sketched it all out in pencil, inked it, and then had a friend photograph the black & white piece. At this point I attempted some watercolors, which I failed at miserably. At that point I resorted back to the black & white photograph (my real life version of hitting the “save” button). I colored it digitally while watching/listening to a 4 hour documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street films; it was the perfect length. It’s good to try new things, but there’s also nothing wrong with playing to your strengths & utilizing tried & true methods, especially when a project is due yesterday.
Have you designed artworks for any other bands/artist?
SK: I have been pretty lucky to work with several of my favorite bands. Usually it has been through my poster work, and once in a while that leads to more work. Carcass, the Misfits, Goblin, tons of rad bands. What’s even more exciting is when I have been able to work on art directly for the band to use on some sort of merchandise; that’s an even bigger validation. I was particularly excited to have Faith No More hire me for several tour shirts. Having my art on a Napalm Death hoodie was pretty fucking cool too.