One of the things I enjoy most in life is getting under the skin of an artist. I want to know what makes them tick and what drives them to create. The Facebook page for Askold Art was one I couldn’t leave alone. I was captivated, and found myself returning to it time and again. Before long, I decided I needed to find out about the artist and what fuels his dark, creative fire.
Can you please talk about Askold Art, the services it provides and why you decided to set it up?
Askold art is my art project. I draw covers, logos and other visual art for Black/Death/Thrash metal bands, projects, labels etc. I had two main reasons to start this project – I always liked to draw and I have been a huge metal fan for the most part of my life. The other reason is that I probably want to leave my trace in history.
What is your background in art? Are you self-taught?
Yes, I’m self-taught. I liked to draw since my childhood. I tried to draw some battle scenes and made attempts to depict British and Nazi bombers – to my childhood imagination they had some violent power. Later when I started listening to metal music all my writing books were covered with drawings of pentagrams, demons and attempts to copy Morbid Angel logo and logos of other similar bands. After my graduation from school I told my parents that I wanted to become a designer, but they told me that it was an unclaimed specialty and I had to study another faculty. So I spent a lot of time working in different places including physical labor. But now I think I proved my parents that I can earn my living with what I do.
I’m very interested as to what life is like as an illustrator in Russia. Are you supported in your career choice?
It is very interesting to be an illustrator and communicate with people from all over the world through internet. As for support, certainly it is good to have it, but I work not for recognition, I’m guided by my inner creativity.
How would you describe the metal community where you live in Russia? Here in the North East of England we are fortunate to have a strong, welcoming, supportive community.
As I am a musician myself I often play gigs in different cities of Russia, mostly in big ones. The closer to the capital, the wider is metal community. But unfortunately in many clubs dominate nu, modern and other fake styles of metal. There is another style popular in our country, so-called “Russian Rock”, but metal community call it “shit rock” because most of the time musicians lack both creativity and technical skill. Fortunately in recent years a lot of metal labels appear and some Russian bands become famous all over the world -Blackdeath, Pseudogod, Old Wainds for example.
You create work for a whole host of different metal genres, including death, black and thrash, and I’m wondering what the process is like. For example, when you’re creating a black metal logo, do you immerse yourself in the music while you’re creating? Same when it comes to creating a piece of artwork for a death metal band. Do you feel that you need to have death on your stereo when you’re doing so?
When I start to work with band of one or another style I always try to understand its ideology and listen to all their music, read their texts. After that different images appear in my mind and I convert them into an artwork or a logo.
Most people nowadays would say Facebook is their best promotional tool when it comes to their art. Does this apply to you too, or do you believe other methods are more effective at getting your work seen?
Yes, this applies to me as a lot of my orders come from Facebook. In Russia we have social network “Vkontakte|”, a lot of my orders from Russia and CIS-states come from it. Besides, a lot of people hear about me from each other. I make logo or artwork for a band and they tell their friends about me. Word-of-mouth advertising. In the future I plan to start a website. But the problem now is that I can’t make logo for Askold Art. Probably I’m searching for something which will suit perfectly and cannot possibly find it.
Dig Me No Grave
Outside of music, what do you feel inspires your artwork?
I derive my inspiration from beholding of nature, walks in forest and mountain hiking (I live near to the very beautiful Ural Mountains). I used to live in the center of my city and thought it was comfortable. But then I grew tired of fuss, traffic etc. and moved to the suburbs. It is quiet here and the air is fresh, besides there are two beautiful parks near my house.
What are your thoughts about how music is accessed nowadays? Are you all for downloading and services such as Spotify? What‘s your personal preference?
For the time being it is possible to download almost anything for free in our country. Recently the anti-piracy law was introduced, but I’m not sure whether it works. As for me I sometimes download music, but I always buy albums that impress me on CD or vinyl.
Alatyr’s inlay for Great Inquisition
What’s it like seeing your work grace the cover of a CD or t-shirt?
Certainly it’s a pleasure. Few times people whom I didn’t know came to me at gigs in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and thanked me for logos I made for their bands – that was really great.
How would you describe your perfect working environment?
To have a productive work day I get up about 7-8 a.m. and get down to work. I used to work till late at night and slept late, but that exhausted me. I almost always listen to music while working on one or another artwork, it not only helps to create particular atmosphere but also makes me feel less tired. Recently I prefer to listen to Ufomammut, Dark Buddha Rising, Fading Colors and Depeche Mode while working. To have a rest and relax I walk in the park and go to the Gym. I usually finish work about 11p.m.
Apart from your art work, what else do you do with your creative energy?
Sometimes I make logos and other artworks for “common” (not connected with metal) people and companies, but not very often because it’s a difficult work for me, which demands some moral strength. I also play in a black metal band. http://pogost.bandcamp.com/
What are some of the difficulties that you’ve come up against as an illustrator?
The main difficulties are connected with a lack of education and drawing technique, but I’m trying to remedy the situation, constantly perfecting my skills and gaining experience. I always look ahead and will do my best to get over all difficulties.
What tools do you use to create your work, and what would you say is your favourite piece of equipment?
I usually draw my artworks on watercolor paper. First I make pencil sketch, then I finish it with liners of different thickness (usually Faber Castell and Micron). After that I scan it and work on it in Photoshop. As for logos I paint them with pencil too, then with liner – and after the sketch is approved by client (band) I make the final version vectoring it in Corel Draw. Recently I bought a graphic tablet and started experimenting with colors. Hope that soon I will be able to make digital art.
Where can we find you and your work?