Throughout the late 80s and early 90s, the artwork of Dan Seagrave became synonymous with some of the genre-defining artists in the burgeoning death metal scene; Entombed and Morbid Angel and Suffocation all gleaning inspiration from his sinisterly intricate artwork.
Here, Dan Seagrave allows Darkwülf safe passage through his world.
Beard Rock: What are you working on just now Dan?
Dan Seagrave: I’ve been working on three projects so far this year. A short film called ‘The Projection’. Which is essentially finished, but I need to fix a technical problem with the footage codec. I used a 5DMK2, and it has got some troubles which I’ve been finding at the wrong end of the edit. So I have to go back and fix that, do a re-edit, and add some visual effects on that still. But right now I have a version that’s pretty watchable at 15 minutes. My current art project is called ‘Migrators’, which are paintings of what appear to be flying creatures, part insect and bird. The third project is a larger series, which has required a lot of up front design because it has certain aesthetics which need to be repeated; such as vehicle design and architecture. This has a winter theme setting, and a certain narrative structure.
BR: What have the reactions been like to your cover for ‘Hasta La Muerte’ by Xibalba?
DS: A few favourable comments. But I don’t usually get that much feedback on my work. Probably the band would more so.
BR: What music & artists inspired a young Dan Seagrave to go into the world and unleash his art upon us?
DS: Not music really. I never had a record player growing up. Film though. Alien. Blade Runner. Early sci-fi and fantasy films. Also Roman Polanski films such as The Tennant. Stanley Kubricks’ The Shining. John Carpenters’ The Thing. Art-wise; I liked the visual effects art in films. The matte paintings on glass. Early exposure to art would be visiting the national gallery in London to see works by John Martin, Da Vinci. I always liked Van Gogh, and have visited many places where he lived and painted in London and the South of France.
BR: Ever planned or wanted to get into animation?
DS: Sort of. Filmmaking interests me, and visual effects. I’ve tried in the past to get onboard some film productions in the art department by way of hounding production designers, mostly in the UK, and getting to go down to the studios while they work. Those were audacious moves on my part, but essentially came to nothing. I was also bugging Weta workshop for some years from 1997 at the start of the Lord of the rings films, and Clive Barkers production company. I’m a shy person, and unfortunately that is a real hindrance when you’re trying to take a leap out there. But part of me hates that about myself so I do it anyway, and find myself in these situations. It’s a good thing to challenge that about yourself. There has been no legitimate path for me.
On my own film-making terms. I did a course in Maya at a place called escape studios in London. It was such an intense experience in a way, a real challenge for my mind to follow all the technical layers of what goes on with visual effects on that level. At the end of that, I know my interests are in the ideas, the design, and in terms of effects something that has a more clear visual form, like matte painting. And matte art in films was an early interest of mine to begin with. I took up after-effects this year, so hoping to use that more for my next short.
BR: Tell us about the process where your ideas come from to you actually drawing/painting them, inking etc.
DS: Hand drawn. I always start with small doodles, before making those a bit more detailed via tracing on a light pad, and some PSD work. Sometimes a sketch or design is good, but just needs a few elements shifting or whatever, and Photoshop is great for making those adjustments. Then I project the image onto the board and paint it. I use acrylic. I use Photoshop for some of the post work after the art is finished. But I also like to have a real tangible painting
BR: Tell us about some of your favourite artists working today.
DS: A differing range of art for different reasons. Jenny Saville, Anish Kapoor, and Antony Gormley. On the alternative end of the scale, I also like the sculpture of Kris Kuksi . I’m intrigued by the Pop culture work most prevalent in the States.
I keep fairly regular outings to gallery openings In Toronto. I have to say im rarely impressed by much. I admire people who have true craftsmanship ability to back up their ideas. It is visual art after all.
BR: What album covers do you hold in high regard?
DS: Truly? I can’t really say. But I suppose I still appreciate the White album. I like the nothingness. And the rebellion and audacity of offering the viewer apparently zero. You put a line down, and it changes everything.
BR: How do you prepare yourself for working on a piece? It’s impossible to ignore the psychedelic element to your work. Do you work under any influence?
I don’t do drugs. The last thing I did in that way was mushrooms on the 19th July 1992, and I had severe panic attacks for about two years after that. Not to mention I couldn’t stop consciously thinking as opposed to having a relaxed state of mind.
All the work is from imagination, and that’s what I practice, or really that’s just how my mind works. I don’t need drugs to create visual images, and it would not help. So for an illustration, the preparation comes when I’m given a brief and some information about the theme. Once I have that I get visual ideas from the concept, and just doodle those images down and try and find a good composition. It’s fairly internal. I use mood reference. Images that are textural, or colour moods.
Because im trying to create something beyond reality so I need to draw down shapes that are not inhibited by the rules of reality. Most illustrators would find that approach probably unsatisfactory, or incorrect. If we’re talking about my personal art. Similar things apply. But the two worlds are apart.
BR: How did you get into doing art for bands?
DS: The band Lawnmower Deth. April 1988. I insisted that I do a cover for them. They were the only band I knew. We were from the same village, and they got themselves a small indie record deal. So it was the only way to begin, and I would probably not have had any type of art career had I not done that, because one thing had to get the ball rolling, and there were no other things in the vicinity that would have done that. The rest was word of mouth, and me being driven to take every opportunity that was available.
BR: What has been in your opinion, your finest work to date?
DS: Maybe the temple series work. But I like the migrators series im working on now. Whatever I’m working on feels like the best thing. I don’t look at my own art too much when I’ve finished making it. Occasionally, but I don’t have it hanging on the walls. I’m more of a minimalist, and like a clear space to allow new ideas to form. I think a lot of artists, writers and people like that have the very same view of work they’ve completed. I want other people to enjoy the art if possible.
BR: Favourite albums of all time?
DS: I don’t really have one. I guess I’m am not the sort of person who has favourites. I’m the opposite of that kind of person. Whatever that might be. But some things I like?. Recent music, I like Django Django and Zola Jesus. Not so recent music, i enjoy The Buzzcocks, The Specials, Beck, Siouxie & The Banshees, Butthole Surfers and Bowie.
BR: Tell us about the genesis story of the artist known as Dan Seagrave
DS: I don’t care about that.
BR: Does Iggy Pop have the best rock n roll cock?
BR: Fave beard in music?
DS: Probably The Beatles toward the end. Obvious choice perhaps. But I like that they all sort of kept them into the 1970s after the band dissolved. There’s something symbolic then about eventually shedding the beard, and entering a new era of life. I like that. I don’t find it so interesting when people get stuck on an image. I have friends who I’ve never seen without their beards. I mean who are these people really under there.
BR: If you could play in any band ever, what band would it be?
DS: Maybe in the Stone Roses. Drumming. But that would be very hard. Maybe just one song.
BR: Plans for the future? Anything exciting in store?
DS: To make some more of the Migrators series. Then move onto the other series, which will keep me busy for a while. Also more short films. I’d like to exhibit some of the aforementioned artworks too.
BR: Will Rocco Siffredi ever appear in your art?
DS: Guess not
BR: Tell us something about yourself you haven't told anyone in a review before.
DS: I haven’t eaten any red meat since July 21st 1991. I was flying from London to New York, on an American Airlines flight. I was then a vegetarian till the year 2000. Now I eat fish. Apparently that makes me a pescetarian. My logic being that if I don’t have the proven ability to kill an animal and do all the necessary things involved in that process through to cooking it. Then I don’t deserve to eat it. I have fished though. I’m not apposed to the consumption of red meat. It’s a natural thing. But the way people get their food and the massive machinery of death in place to deliver that, is deadly cold. People are death dealers on a daily basis. The most chilling thing is they want no part of the process involved. Not to see it, or think about it.
BR: Is Darkwülf the coolest animated character in film history?
DS: I don’t know Darkwülf.
Posted: Sun 9 September 2012