Some of you might know that one of my band’s, Thera, is releasing a new CD, entitled “From The North” next month. We just released our single over on our Facebook. We went all out on this album, because we wanted it to be the best representation of our new songs and where we were at, so we traveled down to Glow In The Dark Studios in Atlanta to record with producer, Matt Goldman. You may recognize the name from his work with Underøath and The Chariot, just to drop some names.
To go along with our quality recorded songs, we wanted the artwork to convey the album and the band in a new light. The songs are a different breed of what we used to be, because each of us has grown in a lot of ways from dedicating 2011 to the band with moving, touring, and recording. So we wanted to find an artist that knew us and knew what we wanted. So we turned to our friend Nik Burman.
Nik used to live up here in Alaska, now in California, we stayed at his apartment in Chico on tour last summer, so we all knew him pretty well. He actually made a cameo appearance in one of our tour vlogs. When we stayed with him, we saw most of his artwork up close and fell in love with all of it. So when it came down to decide who was going to help us design our new record – it was kind of a no brainer.
The idea for the design was to play off the elements fire and ice. Mostly because we have two new songs where fire plays a big role, and “From The North” is talking about how we’re from Alaska…so we wanted to play off the ice factor of that. We told Nik our idea, and trusted him to go off on his own and be creative with it. And even before we were done recording the songs, he had sent us some artwork that helped fuel us in the recording process.
I wanted to interview Nik for ToC to show off more of his work, so I did. Click ahead to read the interview, see more of his handiwork, and get a special inspiration mix compiled by Nik himself.
Where do you live and why?
I live in a studio apartment in downtown Chico, California. I grew up in this town but after moving away to Soldotna, AK and Napa, CA I came full circle and ended up back here. I was dedicated to a band at the time and the commute from Napa was wearing me thin. It’s a plus though now because I know this town and its artistic nature.
Tools of the trade? What can’t you live without?
I always love a good pencil. A non-photo blue pencil and my pigment liners/fine line markers are never far. Acrylics and gouache are my paint of choice at this point. They are simple to work with and they seem to do what I want them to do. I must have a 00 liner brush and a mop brush handy. Then there’s Photoshop and my WACOM tablet which are excellent tools that get me anywhere I need to go. I can’t live without a nice thin tip pen.
What’s your creative process?
For illustrations, I usually begin with a non-photo blue pencil for my loose sketches then I will do a few passes with a hard tip pencil to build detail and shape. Often I will bring it over to the light box and use a pigment liner for my inks and final detail work. I can’t do without the .005 size. The smaller the line the better because I’m a detail fiend. Never enough detail. Ever. Bristol paper is my favorite canvas at this point because of it’s weight/durability and lack of texture. This helps keep the lines from bleeding out a mess. My paintings start with a sketch and then get sized and transferred appropriately. Watering down my paint helps the blending process and allows for subtle tone changes.
What was the inspiration behind creating Thera’s album artwork for From The North?
The first Thera album, ‘If This Is The End…’ was a huge inspiration. I knew their sound and it was very visual for me. They contacted me with a loose concept for the
artwork that coincided with the music on the album and I ran with it, all the way… because I loved it! It was very elemental artwork which is fun and open ended. There’s water, fire, and ice. Since the album is called ‘from the north’ I put the lyrics on pieces of paper that I had tore up, burned, bent, stained with wine, and dirtied as if they were letters sent “from the north”. I think it came out awesome.
I grew up mesmerized by Todd McFarlanes detailed line work and the disgustingly gritty worlds he builds. Spawn is a beast. The fantasy painter Brom really pulled my attention into a new darker, yet glorified, fantasy/horror fine art direction. His pieces are stunning. I just wish I could really be in them, sword in hand. The real interest in making my life about creating art came from stumbling upon the straight up disturbingly-awesome creatures that Alex Pardee hallucinates onto paper. I have become a huge fan of quite a few “low-brow” mystically talented fine-artists and illustrators in the bay area and abroad, including (the Goblin King himself) SKINNER, Dave Correia CRAOLA, Dan Mumford, Jeremy Fish, Aaron Horkey and others. Discovering that purposeful line work, even on its own, was considered to be audience worthy really boosted my enthusiasm about drawing. I gained a bit of confidence in that, you know?
What music do you listen to when you’re creating art?
It depends on what I am creating and at what phase the piece is in. Usually the vibe of the music will match the vibe of my initial sketch. So you know, metal for gnarly stuff (mostly Converge) and melodic for more pleasant ideas, (currently Local Natives, Tricky, Arcade Fire). During the inking process I put on something very soft and calm, most recently, Amiina, Sigur Ros, The Album Leaf, and Bon Iver. I am also a drummer so my hands tend to keep a beat and follow the tempo of whatever I’m hearing. The soft stuff lets me slow down and focus. Although on any given day I will tune in some 60′s rock and roll and get to it.
Here’s a special mix put together by Nik. These are the songs he’s been digging and working to.