We do judge our books by our covers because our covers are the very embodiment of seduction, slithering in warning labels and images of the forbidden. It’s not by accident — the music, itself, is visual, particularly in the Death Metal veins. Metal is a multi-faceted, synasthesic experience and it starts with the eyes.
Marcelo Vasco’s name may not ring a bell, but it is everywhere.
He is Hell’s visionary, Death’s portrait artist, and the “seducer” for Slayer, Machine Head, Kreator, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Hatebreed, Dark Funeral, Testament, Dimmu Borgir, Obituary, Borknagar, Vader, Belphegor, Enslaved, Ragnarok, Satyricon, just to name a precious few. He is responsible for thousands of squeamish parents and satisified kids — particularly the ones who don’t want to grow up.
Vasco, a mysterious Brazilian native who is as non-traditional as his career, takes a moment to help us see past the art and into the artist.
TBS – It seems obvious that music is a tremendous influence on your work, but what was it that made you find your niche, specializing in extreme Metal cover art?
Marcelo Vasco – It was natural. I’ve been in love with Heavy Metal covers and horror/sci-fi movies since a very early age, so I think this aesthetic has shaped my way of seeing things. I was astonished, in a very good way… Everything was so exciting (haha!) Then, I started to create and draw my monsters, at school, influenced by Iron Maiden’s covers and stuff like that… Soon came the Death Metal covers and then became even stronger.
Marcelo Vasco – Probably was the Swedish band Lord Belial in 1999. They were the first international band I worked for. I was in contact with the band since the early days of the internet, we turned friends and then they asked me if I was interested to do the artwork for the album Angelgrinder.
I obviously accepted the challenge and it was insanely positive, yeah. Other doors were opening after that, you know…
TBS – What is your preferred medium and why? Did you have formal training in that discipline?
Marcelo Vasco – 99 percent of my artwork is made digitally in the Photoshop through a few different techniques. It’s the way I feel more comfortable to work and where I can reach the best results and progress, based on my skills and experience. Rare times I hand-draw or paint here and there, but definitely not my thing hehe. I mean, I use these features often, but digitally.
You can notice a more organic feeling on my artwork, even it’s being made in a computer. That’s something I’m constantly working on, to give an overall rustic oil painting touch.
I graduated in Graphic Design, which was important for my profession. But, honestly what I do today, I didn’t learn in the college. So, in parts I consider myself self-taught.
TBS – Whom would you say are your biggest influences in the art world? Did you ever have a chance to meet them, such as H.R. Giger (RIP)?
Marcelo Vasco – That’s a really tough question because there are so many names, but in the “metal vibe” I would say the master H.R. Giger, Dan Seagrave, Larry Carroll, Derek Riggs to name a few. Sadly, I never had a chance to meet them in person…
I got Giger DVD hand-signed by him just before he passed way and I’m going to finally visit their museum and bar in Gruyères, Switzerland in January. This is already incredibly important to me! Giger is the top art genius of the modern times.
TBS – What is the most challenging aspect about your job? What do you think you do, besides produce beautiful work, that makes you successful?
Marcelo Vasco – Usually the main challenge is reinventing myself to every job and do that in the best way possible, pleasing the band, the record label, myself and sometimes in a veeeery short time. Not easy!
Regarding your second question… I’m an insanely dedicated and involved person with each job I get and I try to combine efficiency and quickness. I think I also have a certain ease of understanding what my clients are looking for… At least this is what they say, heheh.
Marcelo Vasco – The Metal has its own visual environment and I think that’s important… It’s an identity and part of the culture somehow. I kind like that, even sometimes being extremely clichê and repetitive — or the “classic” as so to speak. But at same time, there shouldn’t be walls…
The new, unexpected is also very cool! At last it’s a matter of knowing when to use, and how to use, in the favor of the creativity and good taste.
TBS – What are your future aspirations at this point?
Marcelo Vasco – I love my job… I live and breathe daily basis the art world, which makes me constantly learn, interact with great bands, know interesting people and develop my own style through the years. There’s a tenuous line between what’s work and leisure in my life. That said, I obviously tend to be a little “workoholic”, which has a positive point after all. In other hand, I’m also extremely self-critical and sometimes I hate what I do along the days, haha. Not always, but it happens. Anyway, this is part of an evolving process, I guess. Well, at least I prefer to see on that way hehe
Concerning the future, I would love to keep doing what I’m doing as much as I can, and would be great if I could work also on another areas outside of Heavy Metal or even music.
As I said before, I have been interested for the cinema since I was a kid, for example. I just never had the chance yet. Who knows…? hehe
— AndJusticeForArt (@AJFA10) November 1, 2016