pondělí 20. prosince 2021

Home » » Interview - JUANJO CASTELLANO - It´s just a great feeling to listen the albums where your art is included.

Interview - JUANJO CASTELLANO - It´s just a great feeling to listen the albums where your art is included.

Interview with Juanjo Castellano, a professional graphic artist located in Spain, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Ave JUANJO CASTELLANO! I have to boast in the introduction, yesterday I counted my metal shirts at home and found that I have 20 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? Hello there Jakub, uauu man, its such a great amount of Juanjo Castellano paintings on your t-shirt colection. That is fantastic of course and big size is another great advantage ha ha.

Well, I am Juanjo Castellano from Spain. I am an professional illustrator. I am a big fan of metal music. I mainly enjoy classic death metal, but I started very young and enjoyed the golden ages of Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Death metal, Black Metal, Doom etc. I studied five years of animation at Escuela Superior De Dibujo here in Madrid and after several years working in companies where I did works for companies such as Planet Holywood, Sony or Coca Cola among others, I decided to dedicate myself to the illustration inspired by fantasy and terror, looking to integrate myself like a front cover artist. Right now I can tell you I have been working for bands and record labels for 18 years and that I am close to 400 albums published in the world with my art. Bands just like UNLEASHED, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, VOMITORY, VARATHRON, PAGANIZER, WOMBBATH, ROTTREVORE, OBSCURE INFINITY, QUINTA ESSENTIA, AVULSED, NOMINON, SORCERY, INTERMENT, SOULBURN, ORDEN OGAN, ALTAR, GATES OF ISHTAR, PORTRAIT, CARNATION, BLASPHERIAN, AVENGER, CARDIAC ARREST, EMBALMER, MOONDARK, STORTREGN, TRIDENT, UNBOUNDED TERROR, TYPHONIAN, NASTY SURGEONS, MOLESTED DIVINITY, NIGHTBEARER, REVEL IN FLESH, REVOLTING, SATHANAS, SOLOTHUS, MASS BURIAL just among many others, so much to name all of them... not bad at all I think.

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

Yes, it was the EVIL INCARNATE Blackest Hymns Of God's Disgrace album published by Deathgasm Records.

I still love this painting. My style has changed a lot. This was an black and white ink work on paper. What great memories about those years when I knew Evan March of Deathgasm Recs and I was so young, so angry....amazing times.

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? 

Well usually bands give me their ideas in addition to the album title. Later I make a sketch and when we find something nice then it is time to start working on the painting. I always listen music when I work, and it's always something that fits the style of the band. If the band have albums released already I listen it. If not, I simply try other bands with the same style. For exemple, if it is a band that practices Death Metal in a Swedish way, the chosen repertoire is classics just like ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, AFFLICTED, CARNAGE, MASS BURIAL, UNTUMO, etc. This always helps to recreate the right feeling in the illustration.

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

Right now, most of my paintings are done with digital thecniques. Its the best medium to do the work in my opinion. It is more secure way to work, it allows you to make changes in a more easy way. My style is the same as if I were doing it with traditional techniques. Draw first and paint later. An average of two weeks per illustration and that's it.
I also do some works with pencil and coloured pencils and tints….there are something magic when you work with traditional thecniques of course.

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

No, I always do the work thinking on the vinyl size. Its more than ok for the cd of course. Ussually the cassete edition requires some layout works to fit on, but its just what its is, no a big deal in my opinion.

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.

Just like told you already I am working with digital stuff so the art is directly transformed o done on digital form. Yes, internet rules the work and all is unleashed on the entire work. I try to not be so much worried about it, the bands got its license to use, its artworks and they just try to do the things in the best possible way.

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

I am not sure about what you mean....for me, when I finish a piece, I am the first one that should be absolutely pleased with the final product. Of course, the bands comes next and its the second most important part of the business. Fortunally for me, the 98% of my works just got an excellent fedback from the bands, fans, etc, and I am really pleased with it. Of course, sometimes I got not so good feebacks and its something normal. You must be ready for it and just try to get something good too.

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?

Honestly most of my works are front cover artworks for the bands. I am not a big fan of t-shirt designs for exemple. I just prefer the work for front cover artworks and I realy hope I can do it more and more in the future. Ussually the posters just come directly from the cover artwork of the album, and yes, some t-shirt design works are on studio often, but just like I told you, I am doing front cover paintings most of the time.

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?

Well, maybe, now just like you told me in previous question, internet rules all, so now all is a bit different but I think that the spirit is still there, bands, old bands, its just a style of living for so much of us. Of course, I am older, its not the same that when I was 25 years old. Now I enjoy it doing my art mostly, but also going to some concerts or simply doing a visit to the local bands where I have friends that still are playing in bands....remember, I played in some band some years ago with people of TROMORT and even Phlejeton of the brutal death act WORMED.

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?

For me its the same to work with an big band o a new band. If we can get a deal I am sure it should not be a problem. The only thing is what ussually I have a big list on schedule, so be sure to contact me as soon as possible and get ready for a good should be patient my friend, some bands are waiting for months right now.

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?

Honestly, I cant remember any one.

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 am not sure, maybe the cover I did for the brazilian act VOMEPOTRO. The album cover for Zombie Gore Vomit was a insane gore influence painting, and I think the label had some problems with it...but not so much beside of it.

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

Oh man, of course. I am a big fan of Dan Seagrave, Necrolord, Marshall, Locke atc. I also enjoy the work of Riddick of course, he is the master of the BW designs. Anyway, probably Seagrave is my all time favourite and he is one of the reasons because I am doing the work today. Its cover for the LEFT HAND PATH album of ENTOMBED is my favourite. Maybe its not its best painting but for me its the perfect scene to define Death Metal. This album is the best Death Metal album ever released, so those are huge reasons to love the work of Dan.

I also love the Vincent Locke work....its more comic influenced and really enjoy comic books.

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

Well, it was BOLT THROWER of course, but there are some others too, .....DISMEMBER, MALEVOLENT CREATION, SLAYER, many great bands out there, mostly classics.

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 really love the stuff of MASS BURIAL from Spain. They play real Death Metal in the Swedish way, its first album Of Carrion And Pestilence is just an perfect exemple, what an killer release.


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

Not exactly. I have a big amount of cds, cassetes and vinyls on my house but I was never obsessed with it. So many years ago I got tons of cassetes, later the cds came too. Currently I have so much of my own stuff to listen. I mean, bands that I worked with and send me some copies for my collection. It´s just a great feeling to listen the albums where your art is included.....its something really especial for me.

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.?

Well, I read tons of printed magazines on my life. Unfortunally not so much lately. Right now we have tons of stuff on the net and the webzines provides great contents. I really enjoy reading reviews of albums where my art is used. Many times they dedicate a few words to the artwork, and I really appreciate this, whether it is a positive review or not. I think the art of an album is very important and a big part of the magic of the whole product.

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.

Thanks to you my friend, I really apreciatte your interest on my work. Stay tuned, tons of new albums are coming with my artwork (I could say almost 20 new works), so I really hope you all enjoy the new stuff.



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