Kris welcome in the ugly pages of Necromaniac! Hope you found some time to concentrate on this interview? Many people know your great works but nobody has an idea about the Person behind the art. Kris, please feel so free and introduce yourself. What is your age, where are you living in Belgium, are you married, kids etc...
Well, I turn 33 this year (I was born in 1970). I'm living in a town called Zammel in Belgium… it's a very small town but there's a very large antique bookstore that I visit very often. The street where I live has a very interesting history dating back to the year 600. It had been the place where an Irish princess lived in exile for many years until her father found her and beheaded her because she refused to marry him. There's also lots of nice places nearby so I'm quite happy living there. I'm still single, so no wife or kids ( I hope some nice girls are reading this… hehe ! ). I just haven't had the time I guess…
Kris you got a serious job? I am sure! What are you doing? I can not image that you live from your art? I think it´s a real good pocket money but not more
Yes, you're right. I do have a daytime job. It's quite boring compared to painting actually, but it gets the bills paid. It also allows me to concentrate less on earning enough money with my arts. There's no pressure to paint. I think true art can never be about making money. It doesn't motivate me. I'm afraid that if I would try to live from my art, It would be very difficult to earn enough each month. There's no security… and I would be forced to do a lot of stuff that I don't like to do. In the end I think it would take away my inspiration.
By which work i disturbed you currently?
At the moment I'm working on a CD cover for a Belgian Heavy Metal band called "Cryme". At the same time I'm also developing a T-shirt design for Marduk and another CD cover for a Dutch band called "Mentation". I'm also still working on my new comic book …
You started your career with a comic book called "Odoric" is that true? How many Issues you published? And can you tell me with a few words the story of the books?
Actually the Odoric story is very difficult to explain in just a few words. It's become a true saga over the years, ever since I created the character back in the early 80's. You could call it a world on its own… The main character is Odoric of course, who is kind of a mysterious warrior who wields an ancient sword with great power. He is up against changing his destiny ( of which he has seen visions ). But no matter how many battles he fights, it seems that everything and everyone around him will get destroyed. His ultimate fate is very dramatic and epic… I created three Black and white Odoric comic books which were never published and one full colour comic book called "The Wall Of Doom", which was released by "Wonderland Half Vier Productions" in 1996. Ever since 1996 I've been working on the next Odoric story "The Heart Of The Serpent"! There's even a soundtrack project in the works for this album, so it's possible that it will be released as a CD as well…
Also you did a few Covers for "second sight Books" from Berlin and for the Elf Fantasy Mag. What can you tell me about these projects?
I did those projects mainly because it was a new challenge for me. I'm an avid collector of fantasy and sf books, so it was nice to finally do some covers myself. For Second Sight Books I did the covers for "Die Alten Feuer Von Midgard" by Andrea Haugen ( known for her band Hagalaz Runedance ) and "Rabengeschrei",a book about the raven in mythology. Both books are really interesting I think ! Elf Fantasy Magazine is a magazine from Holland that has grown very much the past few years ( probably because of the large interest in the genre with the Lord Of The Rings movies ). I did one special cover for them and they also used my first Thyrfing cover for an issue dedicated to Viking mythology. Really an interesting magazine in fact. You can buy it at every newsstand in Holland !
How did you came in contact with the metalscene? I heard the Ancient Rites Cover was your first work for a metalband? Is that true?
Yes, that's right ! My first metal cover was the cover for the release of "The Diabolic serenades" on Vinyl ! The owner of the record company ("Midian Creations") , Wim Baelus , met me at a comic book/record fair where I was present to find a publisher for Odoric. He liked my work and asked me if I could do something for him. I was immediately interested of course… I did the best cover I could at that time !
How did you came in contact with Osmose? I think for this label you released the most of your works? You did Artworks for Absu, Marduk, Angel Corpse (Shirt design), Thornspawn ect.
I am sure it´s sometimes difficult to realise the ideas or impressions the bands got?
I got in contact with Osmose almost immediately after the release of the Ancient Rites LP. They liked my work very much and wanted me to do some covers for them. So not much later I started working on covers for Marduk and Absu… It was really a great time because it was all new and I had lots of ideas ! At times it really isn't easy to find out what kind of cover a band is looking for. Often they don't really know themselves what kind of artwork they want… I always make some rough sketches first so they can tell me if I'm on the right track or not.
What do you prefer, to get a straight idea from a band or to create total free a pic?
In most cases I prefer to do my own interpretation. Most of the times I use the lyrics or album title to inspire me, so I always make sure that the cover relates to the musical concept. A cover should come to life when you play the music ! But it's not always easy to find a good composition. In a lot of cases the band wants me to put certain elements on the cover, which don't always make for a great artwork. You know, in many bands each member needs to see his own idea on the cover, so you quickly end up with many different elements that don't always fit together very well. But somehow I always seem to get it done…
One of my favourite works from you is the Morbid "December Moon" LP. The motive is perfect, the atmosphere, the colours all is perfect! I know it´s difficult to say, but which pic do you think is the best you ever made?
Of all my covers, Morbid's "December Moon" cover is actually the only one that I've had framed. It has a strange feeling to it I think... It was one of my early works and the album is extremely hard to find. Also, when I had finished the cover I visited a friend who had just bought an old house. When I entered I immediately saw an old picture hanging from the wall that looked very much like the cover that I had just painted. It was really very weird because I had never seen it before and it seemed as if I had been inspired by that picture.
I'm not really sure which of my covers is the best one … like you said it is very difficult to know that about your own work. Most people seem to love the Absu covers a lot ( "The Sun Of Tiphareth" in particular ). Also the Sear Bliss covers turned out nice I guess. But personally I'm never satisfied… I remember that I didn't like the "Sun Of Tiphareth" artwork at all when I had just finished it. At the time I thought it could've been better… So I think that my best work is yet to come !
Lets talk about your techniques. Are you work with acrylics? Your Pics don´t look like made in oil. What kind of paper you use?
Actually I use different kinds of paper for various effects… it's sometimes difficult to make a choice. I still haven't found the "right" paper. It's like a never ending quest… My drawing techniques are slightly different for each cover as well. I always try to incorporate something new in every cover. Usually I use acrylics because it dries faster than oils, but from time to time I use oils as well. I never work on canvas though. Some people think that you need to paint on canvas when you are working with oils. Personally I don't like canvas… just watch the old paintings, you'll notice that most of them are not painted on canvas but on wood.
Most of the times I use Winsor & Newton materials… I also use Magicolor airbrush paints ( for large backgrounds or certain effects ), lots of brushes ( I never throw any away because even an old brush can provide a certain effect ), a rotring pen that I modified myself, etc…. I mainly use all that I can get my hands on.
What is the original size of one of your pics? The Absu " Sun of..." ? Cover for example?
The Absu original is the same size as the Vinyl cover… So if you have the LP, you are looking at the true size. I usually work on small sizes because most of my artworks will be used only for CD covers. I've learned that lots of details fade away if the size is too big. But when I know for sure that the painting will be used for an LP cover or a Picture Disc, I try to work on a larger size than usual. Absu's "Third Storm…" was painted on a large size and so were the Tara artworks. Also the new Manegarm cover was painted on a very large size. The Morbid cover was painted on LP-size because at the time I thought it was going to be a CD…
Are you also doing layouts for CD´s? I think not? But can you image to do that? I think sometimes the guys which did the layout destroy a lot and sometimes the are too stupid to check the right colours ( like your pic for the displeased Sampler)
Yes, I know exactly what you mean ! Sometimes a bad layout can really mess up the atmosphere of a cover. It happens a lot ! It's also quite frustrating when they change the colours. What's the point in mixing paints when the colours turn out different anyway? That's why I started doing layouts as well. I don't have enough time to do it for every cover though… I recently did the entire layout for Dagorlad "The End Of The Dark Ages". It's a digipak, so it was quite a challenge for me. I also did the layouts for the latest Deviser CD.
Are you also working with photoshop or in general with computers? I ask cause the Bandpics you did for Immortal look like mixed between drawing and finishing with Computer.
Actually I didn't even have a computer at the time when I did those bandpics. I wanted to create a transparent effect, so I painted over masking film to create the dirty surface. I painted the pics by using photocopies of photographs. Then I attached the masking film to the painted bandpics ! It took me a while to accept the computer, but now that I have one, I really use it a lot! I often scan my sketches and put them together on the screen. That way I can see if something will look good or not. On the computer it's easy to make some changes, while it would take me hours in the traditional way. However, I don't think the computer is the right tool to create the actual artwork as well. I think a real painting still looks better than something created on a computer.
99% of your works are in the medieval, fantasy, occult kind. Did you ever do a splatter artwork? Is it in your vein to draw something like that? I think it´s very difficult to draw a typical splatter cover cause you have to draw anatomical total correct. If not the art looks shitty! Do you agree?
I've never really been very interested in splatter images … I think there's a limited number of compositions to do with it. I do like zombies and that kind of stuff, but I'm not really into the sick stuff… I am much more interested in covers with an epic quality. If you look at my covers, you'll notice that there's always a story in it. I never do a painting that has nothing to tell… that's why I also don't like decorative art. But you're right that most of the splatter artworks don't look good because of bad anatomy…
By the way, i know that you are into old Metal Bands and Viking Metal stuff. Do you like brutal Death Metal like Suffocation, Devourment, Disgorge or Bestial Black like Blasphemy, Impiety or stuff like that? What are your current faves?
To be honest, I've never been very much into Death Metal. I listened to bands like Fates Warning or Heir Apparent when Death Metal thrived. I can appreciate some bands though. I think there are a lot of really good musicians in that genre. I liked bands such as Pestilence, Cynic, Morbid Angel, Nile,… What they have in common are the great artworks and the concepts. Especially Nile has a great concept I think. But I just don't listen to it that often.
Lately I've been listening a lot to soundtracks and various bands into Viking or Pagan metal. The soundtrack of "The 13th Warrior" is really great I think! I also bought the new Moonsorrow CD recently, which is really good. Some other bands that I've been listening to lately are Blood Covered, Hel, Mortifer ( the Belgian Horror Metal band!), Blut Aus Nord, Lord Wind, Bathory, …
I know it´s boring to judge about other artists but can you tell me which Artist (special for Death and Black Metal) you prefer? Benscoter, Seagrave, Petagno, Jon Zig .....you got a favorite one?
I appreciate Dan Seagrave a lot for his early works, which were really magnificent. I also like some of Wes Benscoter's artworks very much. Petagno has done some great covers. But I think my favourite artist in Metal right now is J.P. Fournier from France. He did the great Immortal "At the Heart Of Winter" cover. He's also the only other artist that I'm in contact with. He's really a great guy to be in touch with.
OK Kris i hope it was not to boring for you and i wish you all the best for the future! Thanx
Thanks to you as well, Thomas ! Good luck with your own work and your magazine ! Don't forget to take a look at my site every now and then !