All work copyright R. Githens
Hi Rodney and welcome to the Steel Mill! Wazz up? What is your latest project?
Right now I am working on some ideas for Skeletonwitch and some stuff for Ring of Honor Wrestling. Also, I am getting prepared for the NY Comic Con in a couple weeks. I will be sharing a booth with Metal Sucks!!!
Tell us a bit of your history. How did you end up doing what you do?
I have been drawing since I was very little and I have always been the t-shirt guy…so it was the perfect fit.
You also do amazing job on T-shirt design. What makes a good design for clothing?
Thanks for the compliment. I dig stuff that makes a big impact, whether it is an elaborate design or not. Gnarly details often draw me in but sometimes there is a stark dramatic image that just grabs you.
What was the first design you did for a rockband?
The first design I did was for the God Forbid and I thought…shit, yeah, I am on my way. That led to me hooking up with a merch company and through that I created designs for BC Rich. At that time, I became part owner of the company along with the main owner and His Emissary from the band Ipsissimus. Although, I did no other designs for bands at that time, the band roster was pretty impressive. God Forbid, Shadows Fall, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, Hatebreed and others. Then… let’s just say there were creative differences and I moved on…This began the band art drought that lasted for a while.
You have some amazing references (Intronaut – I Am The Ocean – Her Candane – Kylesa – Heaven Shall Burn- Caliban – ROH Wrestling – FEA Merch – Tone Deaf Touring – BC Rich – Metal Hammer – Metal Sucks just to name few). How do you feel working with artists?
Some of the bands, I have no contact with as it is through a merch company but I prefer to have direct contact with them. It makes the creative process go a bit smoother. But it is often very good to have an art director screen out some of the wacky ideas. It is the best when you do work for a band that you really like. I like to listen to their music while I am creating…so 12 hours of listening to crap would really suck…
Are you self-taught or have you studied in art or design schools?
I have flopped all of the over the place, spending time at a comic book school, an art college and a few other colleges. Finally, I got a degree but that is just a piece of paper, the knowledge is really what has guided me.
What kind of software or equipment do you use?
My set up: 27 inch imac, small wacom tablet, scanner and a whole bunch of scraps of paper for my doodles.
Your personal website’s url (www.vertebrae33.com) has something to do on human spine (yes, I googled it…)instead of your name. Was rodneygithens.com taken?
Actually, I own rodneygithens.com as well…All humans have 33 vertebrae and the rest is…my little secret.
What do you think will happen to traditional LP , DVD or CD design in near future? Will we ever see beautiful booklets or other printed products or will it all be digital?
Digital is the predominant format but there are lots of metal bands releasing special versions that are on vinyl or include elaborate packaging. I think it is great to do things that better connect you to your fans and of course give artists more work. There is nothing better than listening to music you dig while looking at the packaging artwork.
You run a supercool website called Metal Band Art. Could you tell us a bit of it?
I wanted to start a site for people like me. People that value all of the amazing art done for metal bands. It has been great doing interviews with other artists and finding out about their creative process. When I contacted Derek Riggs, I thought there would be no way he would do it. When his email reply came back, I was stunned and excited to hear what he had to say. In the process, I got a friggin awesome signed book and he even drew an Eddie in the back!!!
Do you have any personal favourite designers in the field of metal?
Woah…that is hard question…I like so many of them. Check the site for some of them…but two of my all time favorites are Pushead and Derek Riggs. I got the Riggs interview but I cannot seem to get a hold of Pushead.
Are there any particular bands or musicians you would like to work for in the future?
I would love to work with all of them but two big ones for me would be Machine Head and Mastodon.
Browsing your website we found a few personal favourites. Could you tell us a bit more about these works and how they were made:
So cool to do a design for Fuckin Slayer!!!!! This design was done completely on the computer and it was one of the first times that I did a piece like that…usually I always have some scanned drawing element to the work.
I drew this as once piece, scanned it in and added some other elements. They wanted a Mother Earth being destroyed by man type thing.
Birds & The Bees design…this was for something else but Sacha from Intronaut really dug it…hand drawn and scanned in….color added in photoshop.
This was the first time I have ever drew a reaper…believe it or not. I have done four designs for Kylesa but this is the one you can find everywhere online.
This is an acrylic on paper painting. It was for a gallery show and I also put it on a shirt. The idea: all of the sorrow of life manifesting itself on the outside of your body.
Is there a work of which you are personally proud of?
I guess the sad thing is, I hate a lot of it when I look back at it. I am very critical and I only see areas to improve. But lately I have been trying to change that…I do get a kick out of seeing someone wear one of my designs and in the case of ROH Wrestling, seeing lots of people wear my work at a show.
Finding ideas might be difficult sometimes and designers have different ways to find them, what is your secret?
I have some really twisted dreams. I get the worst sleep ever. I constantly see images that flicker past me when I am snoozing. Also, I daydream just like the cartoons with ideas moving in and out of the actual real world. My most fucked up ideas have yet to see the light of day…
What are your other main hobbies when you´re not designing?
I like to dance around a circle of articulate bunnies with top hats and twirl flaming sticks above my head, while emulating the main riff from South of Heaven……or….I am very into music, watch a lot of movies & TV and struggle with setting the line up for my fantasy football team.
Thanx and keep feeding the flames!
All the best and thank you for this opportunity.
Go and check out Rodney’s personal website at http://www.vertebrae33.com/
Also check out Rodney’s amazing website about art in metal ‘Metal Band Art’:http://metalbandart.com/
All work copyright R. Githens