Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Exclusive Interview With Metal Artist, Mark Riddick

I did this interview with Mark Riddick a long time ago back when I ran the blog from my MySpace page and I feel like posting it again. Why? Because it's my website and I can. I really liked this interview and want to share it... again. Mark Riddick was an amazing to interview. He seemed perfectly fine with answering every question with thoughtful responses. For those of you that aren't familiar with Riddick, First and foremost he is a world renowned artist and has designed for some of metal's most prominent acts such as Kataklysm, Dying Fetus, Arsis, and Dethklok. While staying true to his roots in the underground metal scene by doing artwork for bands like Hirax, and Nunslaughter. Riddick's artwork has been featured in galleries all around the world in cities like LA, New York, and Tokyo. Riddick himself is the member of many bands, most notably of which are Unburied, and his solo project Fetid Zombie. If you remember, Unburied's "Slut Decapitator" was my 10th favorite album of the year. To learn more about Mark Riddick's art, you could check out his MySpace page, or, you could just read the interview below.

First of all, is this your first time being interviewed?

No, I've completed several interviews since I've been illustrating for the underground metal music community during the past 18 years. I've probably finished well over one hundred or so by now.

When did you start drawing?

My earliest recollection of drawing was around the age of six but I didn't take it seriously until 1991 when I started taking art courses in high school and got involved in the underground death and black metal music scenes.

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Yes, absolutely! It's truly a passion of mine and I'm very grateful that I had plenty of support from my family, friends, and instructors to pursue this path.

Is there a specific moment you remember when you started listening to metal?

Oh yes, I was about ten years old when I began listening to hard rock bands like Cinderella, Motley Crüe, and Ratt. I quickly progressed into thrash metal courtesy of bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Kreator, Gwar, Vio-Lence, Forbidden, Cryptic Slaughter, Overkill, DRI, Demolition Hammer, etc. and around the age of thirteen or fourteen I graduated to death and black metal music.

As an artist, is there a style of art, digital or otherwise, that you feel is over used?

I think any creative individual is entitled to express him or herself freely and with any medium of choice. Some cliché's may be overused in heavy metal art but it is an artist's responsibility to be original in his or her own work. It's important for an artist to set him or herself apart by discovering a style that is uniquely theirs—this comes with much practice, self discipline, and experience. I am personally inspired by the old underground photocopied metal fanzines from the early 90s which featured cut-and- paste layouts alongside gruesome black and white illustrations and elaborate border artwork. This was a predominant style during the early 90s in underground metal culture and I've carried these attributes into my own artwork; for instance—my reluctance to use color in my work.

Where do you come up with the ideas for your art?

The concepts in my artwork vary depending on whether or not I have complete creative freedom on an illustration or if my client has something specific in mind. Most of my own concepts are derived from my distaste for organized religion; particularly Christianity, which dominates our Western mindset. Other themes are based around my own fears and concepts that are generally shocking. I think one of the many purposes of art is to entice a reaction from its viewer and sometimes subject matter can accomplish this.

Now that you have a kid, do you think that your views toward your art or your music will change at all?

No, I absolutely enjoy being a father and it has not yet shaped my worldview other than by enlightening me to the power of our human ability to create. My son is, in essence, my masterpiece—the most precious work of art I'll ever create. The only thing that has significantly changed is the time I'm able to spend on my art and music as my familial responsibilities are always first.

What first gave you the idea to do your solo project?

In 1991 my twin brother and I performed in a death metal project together called Excrescent. We published two fairly successful demo tapes and spread them throughout the underground metal scene. Since then I published several CDs, cassettes, and LPs in other genres of music ranging from experimental dark ambient to traditional medieval music. Since metal music has always been such an immense part of my life I decided to go back to my roots and initiated Fetid Zombie, a solo project, in 2007. Meanwhile I was, and still am, involved with my brother-in-law's death metal band, Unburied. Fetid Zombie acts as an outlet for unleashing all that I have held back over the past decade.

Will you ever take Fetid Zombie on the road?

No, it's too difficult for me to make time for rehearsing, finding session members, and booking shows. There are other things I'd rather focus my time on than playing live.

If so, what band would you like to tour with?

If I did have an opportunity to tour, and I was able to make time for such a thing, I would probably like to tour with my band mates in Unburied, alongside my comrades in Absu, Butcher ABC, and Nunslaughter.

You've worked with, and designed for a lot of bands. Is there a band that you want to work with but haven't gotten the chance?

This is a tough question; most of the bands I've worked with have been wonderful. I honestly can't think of a band I'm particularly interested in working with, I'll have to wait and see what comes my way.

In your opinion, what was the best album of 2008?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer as there are several amazing titles I've picked up this year. I'll do my best to narrow it down to five:
ARSIS "We are the Nightmare" (USA)
CROM "Vengeance" (Germany)
IMPIETY "18 Atomic Years" (Singapore)
SATHANAS "Crowned Infernal" (USA)
SPEIRLING "The Piper" (England)

Is there an Unburied tour to be expected sometime in the future?

Probably not; I'm just too busy being a dad and trying to keep up with my freelance illustration.

Last question; When you were first starting out as an artist, did you ever dream that your art would become so popular in the metal community?

That is a great question! Ever since I was six years old and saw Iron Maiden's first album, with Derek Griggs art on the cover, in the record store shelves I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I remember while growing up I used to peruse through metal magazines and carefully study the ads with all of the T-Shirt designs on them and thinking how cool they were. Never in a million years did I think my own designs would be seen in ads like these in metal magazines worldwide. I somehow managed to stay passionate about my artwork and it has truly been rewarding! Thanks for the wonderful interview, Jay!

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