Here is part 2 of the interview with Valnoir founder of Metastazis design studio.
How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
Every project is different, so is the process I apply. So I’ll take one concrete example I’m still pretty proud of. Secrets Of the Moon album Privilegium. I first asked the band about what they want. “Something simple and expressive, such as Faith No More’s Angel Dust’s cover”. And about the album’s name meaning : “It’s just us claiming that we feel privileged of doing what we do : art, music, and to succeed in it.” I acknowledged that it was some kind of pride manifesto, that is seen as a sin by the Christian culture. And thus symbolized by the apple right after genesis. The felt enthousiatic about the idea of having an apple as central element. So far I knew I wanted it as a photo, black, but nothing more. I just decided to do the shooting and to see if something more would happen. I bit the apple, to symbolize the sin, painted it black, black background, soft light from above, shooting. But it was during the photoshop part that I had the idea to cover the bitten part with solid black, to make the apple look hollow and made in (black) metal. To point the hollowness of the sin accusation. Then, the logo. I joined the two O of “Moon” to give a meaning to the band’s name that was “just” aesthetic. And the album’s name is a Wilhem Klinspor gothic that I stretched and redrew to make it look older with more identity.
What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
95% of the whole thing is done on the computer, and from my digital camera. I seldom draw on a paper. Though it can happen that I use the skill of an external traditional illustrator, such as on the Morbid Angel covers.
Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
No, I feed myself a lot with reference elements. In fact it’s very important for the diversity of my work. The usual process, when I use a reference material is that I scan it, I scan many of them, and then I destroy, split, combine; modify them to give them a new life and create something that belongs to me, but I never try to hide the roots. I used a lot of elements from Gustave Doré, Koloman Moser, Mexican Calaveras etc…
Do the bands give you any direction?
Yes, I like to receive band’s directions during the genesis. It’s very important, I don’t want to betray the spirit of the band. My goal is to have this essence and to give it a surprising, unexpected shape. But don’t hear me bad : I accept band’s directions regarding the MEANING, but when things come to the shape, the formal interpretation, when everything’s set and started, It’s way more difficult (impossible?) for them to interefere if it’s not fully justified, otherwise I refuse. It’s written on my website first page : I don’t accept criticism when it’s ludicrous. It’s as simple as that.
Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
Make something DIFFERENT. Turn your back to fashions, whatever they are, find your own identity. Then, focus more on idea and concepts than on the final aspect. The aspect comes afterward, but the idea, the concept is the core, the skeleton of a good artwork.
What are you currently working on?
Alcest, The CNK, Samael, Der Blutharsch, Nidingr, Ulver.
The Black Dahlia Murder box set looks amazing…how did the creative process proceed for that project?
At first I gathered many elements done by Koloman Moser. It was a project for stain glasses in a church. The process is described above : I split, destroyed and combine those parts to build a new structure that was fitting with my overall idea of creating something sacral. Based on this structure, I made a quick sketch to explain the band what I had in mind, and after the approval, I started the big work of illustration. The B&W line artwork itself took me more than 40 hours, and the whole cover design process probably 80 hours.
I would be remiss if I did not ask whether you were going to be doing any blood prints again?
I don’t know. Two things : Once you have done something like that, what’s the point about repeating it? But on the other hand, I’m not fully satisfied of what has been done regarding the making of the ink itself, and I’d like to improve my technic to obtain a perfect ink.
When you have this kind of intense formal treatment idea, it has to be justified and bounded to the band’s concept. Human blood+watain fitted well. Next time I could for example use some chicken blood to print a voodoo band poster.
Do you have any dream projects?
Could sound stupid but not anymore. My personal goal was to work with all those bands who influenced me and shew me the way years ago, such as Samael, Morbid Angel or Laibach. The point is that I’ve worked for almost all those bands. So now things come to a point that I’ve realized all I wanted to do and I have to find to Metastazis a new reason to be. But I don’t worry, I’ll find.
I wanted to work for Type O negative though and this will never happen. Too bad.
What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Impossible to answer what is my favorite band of all time. It evolved a lot with time. Concept-wise (but not music-wise), no doubt about Laibach. But music-wise I could say that during the last years, the bands I probably listened to the most are Type-O Negative, Ulver and Burzum, but that doesn’t mean that they dominate everything.
In my pantheon (no special order) : Burzum, Deathspell Omega, Alcest, Taake, Der Blutharsch, Ulver, Samael, Antaeus, Type O Negative, Zero, Paysage D’Hiver, David Galas, Electric Wizard, Peste Noire, Funeral Mist, Gnaw Their Tongues, Katatonia, Kvelertak, Lurker of Chalice, Neurosis, The Moon lay hidden beneath a Cloud, Portishead, Slowdive, Stupeflip, Urfaust, WITTR, Akitsa, Dissection, Tom Waits and tons of other but you get the thing.
Check out more of his work at: Metastazis.com