středa 12. září 2018

Home » » Interview - MARK RIDDICK - I do think that critique is a vital tool for developing as an artist.

Interview - MARK RIDDICK - I do think that critique is a vital tool for developing as an artist.

Interview with legendary MARK RIDDICK - author of artworks, covers, posters, t-shirts and many others. Death metal musician and fan. 

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Translated by Duzl, thank you!

Ave Mark Riddick! I have to boast in the introduction, yesterday I counted my metal shirts at home and found that I have 27 motives from you. I am a big guy and so you have a good ad in the Czech Republic. However, I do not know if fans in my country know you "personally." So could you please introduce yourself? 

Jakub, thank you very much for your kind words and support through the Deadly Storm blog! It’s great to hear you have so many shirts featuring my artwork in your personal collection! To be as brief as possible for those who are unaware of my artwork, I’ve been illustrating for underground metal bands since the early 90s. Most of my work has been published on merchandise and album covers for a variety of metal bands (both underground and well-known). I’ve also illustrated for customers outside of the metal realm, such as television, auto, fashion, alcoholic beverage, and pop culture industries however my mainstay is the metal music industry. 

Do you still remember the first cover you drew? What was the band and how do you look at your work today?

My first published record cover was for a Kentucky-based grindcore band called Son of Dog. The illustration I created for them, around 1992, was published on 7” EP format as well as on a T-Shirt. I had previously seen my artwork published in some underground metal fanzines but to see my work in print like this was inspiring and motivated me to continue illustrating for bands. As you can imagine, almost three decades later, I’ve since seen my work published in a variety of formats. I’m a bit used to seeing my work on an album cover or shirt, but I still get a sense of pleasure seeing my art placed on unconventional formats or for unexpected clients. I’m still very passionate about my craft however the drawing process has become much more fluid and second nature since I’ve had so much time to become more comfortable with my techniques and routines. 

How does the creative process take place? If you are doing a cover for a band, for example, are you listening to their music? Do you get inspiration from the music and then it's easier, or do you choose from pre-prepared motifs that would fit the best?

I usually don’t listen to the bands I work for, unless I happen to already be a fan. Just like all other metal fans, I have my own taste and preference when it comes music choices. Although most of the bands I work for perform death metal—which is my personal musical preference—I do accept clients from other genres like black, thrash, doom, power, speed, and metalcore. Accepting work from a variety of customers representing different genres helps to spread my reach as an illustrator and allows me to explore a broader range of subject matters in my work. Regarding my workflow process, most of the time a band will present a brief guideline of what they’re looking for from me; I work best from minimal guidance; some customers allow me full creative freedom while others require specifics. The next step in the process is to draft a sketch; once approved, I begin the inking process. The final high-resolution digital art files are submitted to my customer upon completion and scanning of the artwork. 

What painting techniques do you use? Which suits you the best and why?

I work strictly in black and white, my materials include 20lb letter-size paper, Sakura brand Pigma brush pens (fine, medium, and bold nibs), Sakura brand Pigma Micron pens, Sakura brand white Gellyroll pens, and Sharpie markers with various size nibs. I also use Adobe Photoshop to do the finishing work on my illustrations, such as cropping the scans, adjusting the levels for best reproduction, and prepress work. 

Does it differ in any way working on the CD, cassette, and vinyl packaging? Each cover has a slightly different booklet format.

Yes, the format certainly dictates the size of the finished artwork. It’s important to be mindful of how the artwork will be reproduced before getting started on an assignment. I prefer working on T-Shirt or cassette cover illustrations because it allows me to take better advantage of the letter-size paper I draw on. 

Nowadays the "image" has to be transformed into digital form. Do you then use some editing programs for "photos" of painting? Today the Internet is ruling the world. How do you handle, for example, copyright? Today it is possible to download everything.

Although my illustration process is executed by hand, once a drawing is complete I scan a 600 resolution TIF version of it. I then open the scanned artwork in Adobe Photoshop wherein I prepare, and slightly edit, the artwork for for ideal reproduction. The final artwork files are delivered digitally, while I maintain the original illustrations for my personal use/storage. In terms of copyright, I don’t have any kind of formal process in place, I’m simply the copyright holder by virtue of being the author of the artwork. Despite this, I’ve seen my artwork used without permission frequently since the early 90s. The onset of the Internet has certainly multiplied this unfortunate phenomenon many times over. I don’t really get bothered much anymore when I see my work being used without permission, it’s something I’ve learned to accept because I just don’t have the time to police this activity. Most of my art is ripped off for concert fliers and this doesn’t bother me. The only time I’m really annoyed is when my work is blatantly being stolen, reattributed, and then being sold for profit without care or regard for me or my clients. 

Is there anyone evaluating your work? Someone who first tells you, "Hey, this is a great job," or vice versa: "So Mark, this time not so good!"? Is feedback important for you and what about good criticism is it the benefit?

I do think that critique is a vital tool for developing as an artist. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of a formal critique process regarding my artwork other than minor feedback from my customers. The one person whose opinion I trust and value the most is my twin brother’s. He is extremely familiar with my work and is well versed in traditional art history and study, particularly the Renaissance period. My twin brother isn’t always privy to my illustrations, he only sees it and offers feedback on a few occasions each year. Whatever the case, I trust his judgement and I’m always open to receiving constructive feedback on my work, whether positive or negative. 

It is no secret that CDs are not sold much. Lots of listeners are just downloaded music in digital form. It must "take the job" from you. I know you're doing motives for shirts, posters, etc. Do you feel a rise in orders for merchandise?

Although CDs don’t move as fast as other audio mediums, the demand for my artwork hasn’t decreased, rather it has increased. I receive requests almost daily but can only take a few jobs per month because the time I spend on my art endeavours is very limited. I must be very particular about which requests I can accept and which ones I must turn down. Most of the demand is for band merchandise, especially T-Shirt illustrations, however I do turn around a few album covers each year as well. 

You are listening to metal and have been living with it for many years. Has the attitude of the bands, publishers, etc. changed over the years somehow? 

I haven’t observed much difference in terms of my interactions with bands however I have noticed that the pace seems to be much faster and the deadlines tighter. The shift in pace could be a result of the kind of bands I’m working with—whom tour frequently, are signed to bigger labels, and must to adhere to specific deadlines for tour packages or album releases. A lot of the bigger labels must invest a lot more time into their bands before a release hits the market and this requires artwork for pre-order packages, etc., all of which are deadline driven. 

When I hypothesize that I have a death metal band, what do I have to do to have the cover illustrated by you? How can I "convince" you, can the ordinary band afford you? 

The best way to reach me is through the email address on my website. Some potential customers try to reach me through social media however I don’t respond to requests via social media because I don’t have the time to monitor and maintain them. I’m certainly accessible and affordable, however the biggest challenge is time. I accept only a few requests per month, so I must carefully vet and consider each request that enters my inbox. 

Has it ever happened to you that you refused despite the good financial offer some band? Maybe because they you did not like their work? 

Yes, I turn down requests regularly however it’s often because I don’t have time to accept new customers. I’ve turned down requests for various reasons, even lucrative ones, but its usually due to lack of time or my inability to work on a tight deadline. 

You are creating covers for bands from all over the world. Have you ever had a problem with selling CDs because of your CD cover? 

I’m unaware of any censorship regarding the content of my album cover illustrations. Some of the most extreme work I’ve published has usually been for other merchandise, which has a smaller distribution outlet and less restrictions by second-or third-party entities. 

I've seen posters from you, you have some bands you play in. You could say that “metal is your life?” What makes you so fascinated about this "immortal musical style”? 

Yes, metal music and culture are a daily part of my life. If I’m not listening to it, I’m usually contributing to it somehow, whether by doing artwork for a band, writing and recording songs for my own bands, wearing metal shirts, or purchasing demos and albums from underground bands. I believe these activities could be summarized as a lifestyle choice. Regarding my musical activities, my main effort is a solo project called Fetid Zombie. I handle the bulk of the song-writing however I collaborate with several guest musicians on each of my releases. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate musically with so many talented musicians from bands like Arsis, Necrytis, Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Varathron, Skeletal Remains, Svierg, Loculus, Absu, Massacre, Obscene, Ossuarium, Inferi, Johnny Touch, and the list continues. My other project, Macabra, is a dual effort between myself and Adrien Weber (Vociferian, Goat Holocaust, Luger, etc.); we’ve published a few split releases as well as two full-length albums. I’ve played in several other bands in the past however Fetid Zombie and Macabra are my only active musical projects at this time. 

Are you following the work of your colleagues; do you have any favorite artists? Are you saying something like "So Vincent Locke did a great job this year“...? 

Yes, I follow and am a fan of the work of several other artists working in the same genre. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some of them as well as collect and display some of their original work in my home studio. Some of the artists whose work I regularly keep up with include Vince Locke, Chris Moyen, Daniel Shaw, Dan Seagrave, Mark Richards, Matt Carr, Brad Moore, Juanjo Castellano, Cesar Valadares, Raul Gonzales, Karl Dahmer, Justin Bartlett, Halsey Swain, Sean Carr, Yuri Kahan, and so many others! 

Do you have a favorite band that you dream about and you would you like to paint cover for them?

There are several bands I would love to illustrate for, to include Toxic Holocaust, Iron Maiden, Obituary, Pestilence, Asphyx, Napalm Death, etc. 

I always ask ... What new bands or releases get your attention in last time and is there something what you often play on your player?

I’m constantly purchasing music, some of the bands I’ve had on rotation lately include: Skeletal Remains, Domains, Cist, Superstition, Obscene, Rotted, Ataraxy, Coffin Rot, Pestilence, Miscreance, Uttertomb, Queensryche, Racer X, Shy, M.A.R.S., Obsession, Cemetery Lust, Ossuarium, Malevolent Creation, Cosmic Church, Extraneous, Rope Sect, Mystic Priestess, Damien, Sinister, Manacle, Ripped to Shreds, Wormridden, Mortiferum, Haunt, Bone Sickness, Tomb Mold, etc. 

Are you a CD or vinyl collector? And if you decide to buy a CD, do you also evaluate it by cover, booklet, etc.?

I haven’t purchased much vinyl in the past few years. I like the format—especially the packaging—however I don’t have the time to sit and enjoy vinyl the way I used to. I mostly buy cassettes and compact discs simply out of convenience as it is compatible with my daily routines. I very rarely purchase music digitally and will sometimes overlook a good band if they don’t have a physical product available for purchase. I enjoy having a tangible product, so I can admire the artwork, layout, and packaging. Although the Internet has made it easy to preview a band before deciding to make a purchase, I will still buy a release simply based on the logo or artwork. A case in point would be the latest Tomb Mold full-length. My main reason for purchasing it was to check out the amazing new artwork by Brad Moore, with whom I’ve been in touch with since the early 90s. I was pleased to see his artwork published for a new and upcoming band; it turns out the album was quite good too, so the impulse purchase ended up being altogether very worthwhile. 

How do you see the current situation on the metal "zine scene"? Do you like a printed magazine? What about webzine? Does it appeal to you even after the graphic? Are you a regular reader? Do you read interviews and reviews regularly, etc.?

I try to keep my radar on the metal scene, both with well-known bands as well as underground bands. I’ll read webzines on occasion however I have an affinity for printed fanzines and will make a point to purchase a handful of fanzines each year. What’s great about the fanzines is that they have a very personal do-it-yourself touch that is lacking on the Internet. Fanzines also tend to cover more interesting bands, including the lesser-known underground bands, which is usually what I’m seeking out. I used to publish a fanzine and contributed to a few during the early-mid 90s. I know how much hard work goes into publishing a fanzine and it’s a commendable endeavour that shouldn’t go unnoticed. 

Thank you for the interview and I wish you a lot of inspiration. I'm already looking forward to holding a record with your other cover. 

Jakub, thank you very much for your extreme patience and support. I’m very grateful and honored to be featured in your Deadly Storm blog. I wish you all the best as you continue your work covering great underground music. If any of your readers would like to learn more about my artistic or musical offerings, please visit:

about Mark Riddick bands on DEADLY STORM ZINE:
Recenze/review - MACABRA - To the Bone (2016)


Instagram: @riddickart


Share this games :