Interview with David Thierree
Recently in collaboration with Dayal Patterson, David Thierree published a collection of his Heavy Metal inspired/related art called ‘Owls, Trolls and Dead Kings’ Skulls’ Please see my review of this excellent coffee table book.
You can purchase it at http://www.cultneverdies.com/p/owls-trolls-dead-kings-skulls-art-of.html
At what point did you decide to publish your book?
Well, it wasn’t a decision I took at first, as it was more Dayal’s. We met on Facebook, sharing good words on common friends conversations. He probably loved my twisted humor, and my work. We befriended and a bit later he asked me if I was interested in making a book with him.
How did your collaboration with Dayal Patterson come about?
I didn’t know it was focused only on my work, I thought he wanted to include other artists, but to my surprise, he wanted to work on my pieces only. We started to talk about what would be the shape of the book, how it would be articulated. It was a bit blurry at first, then I started to send him images, a lot of images, anything I had under my hands. The more I dug from my archives, scans of tapes, flyers, fanzines… he started to think about the book more precisely. Its final shape, the way we could make it a mix of an interview, but also with a narration. I really wanted Dayal to be the person who talks, who brings information I gave, quotes, etc… I have a great respect for his writer’s talents. When we finished the gathering of all the images (about 300 I think), we started battling about which ones would finish into the book, and what would be the final shape of the whole thing. It was really smooth, polite, civilized. As civilized I can be, of course.
Do you see the digital galleries eventually overtaking print media and old school coffee table books?
Internet is a double-edged blade. I can thank internet everyday because it’s a working tool for me, and it kept track of a lot of things I did in the past (which where helpful for the book). I had some very tiny memories of some works I’ve done, or lost track with some people I’ve worked for, and the web helped a lot.
Concerning virtual galleries and sites like DeviantArt, I don’t think it helps a lot. It’s so crowded that it’s nearly impossible to be seen and spotted, unless you build your network elsewhere. It’s primordial to hunt and fish in several ponds and fields. You have to be on several places, but most of them are only places to go from somewhere. From Facebook to Deviant Art, from Instagram to Facebook, etc. I don’t use promotion or publicity, sponsored publications, etc… I built everything brick by brick, each person who likes or follow my work have found me by themselves, or brought to me by friends. I met a lot of people in flesh and blood, being on the field, talking a lot, making bonds. I don’t ask bands to work for me, everyone is coming to me, that’s an important point. I don’t shake my bum in front of people to get some work.
To finish answering to your question, real-life” art galleries who show figurative art are few, most art galleries only work for money-laundering of rich people by showing abstract or contemporary art. I’ve shown my work in several galleries, France, England, Germany, USA, Australia, etc… I don’t feel at ease in this milieu. And rarely sold there. It’s different from internet, two different ways to show your art, not the same people. I don’t think that one works better than another. Art galleries have their own public, their customers lists and targets. On the internet, you don’t really care about artist’s résumé, or his place in the market. You don’t speculate, you see something that you like, you can easily get in touch with the artist, then you can buy his work. That’s why I don’t run too hard after online galleries, market places, etc.
I wanted to add that looking at an image on a screen isn’t the same as looking at it in a book or on a printed paper. The experience isn’t the same, and that’s a good thing. The same goes for reading a screen or a book. I’m prettty sure the eye and brains aren’t working the same way. There’s something different. It’s like seeing a person through a camera and seeing the person with naked eyes. Well, I’ve been talking about a lot of things here, I hope I brought some elements here anyway !
At what point did you first feel like you could make a living as an artist?
It took time. I’ve spent the first 37 years of my life as an average kid, student, worked 19 years in a factory, had kids, etc… I kept drawing over and over, managed to work for people in the scene while being like anyone else. Then 10 years ago I decided to let this life before me and try to live from drawing. There have been a mix of some accidental circumstances, and a kind of unconscious thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. Those different factors drove me to cross the gap and take my chances.
Do you have a preferred medium?
Probably pencils, but I like every medium I use : pencils, inks, watercolour, oils, acrylics… Sometimes I sculpt a little, or do pyrography.
How long does it take to do an average piece of art?
It depends, there are serious differences, from a small drawing as big as a postcard to a painting for a LP cover art. It can take a couple of hours, or 3 to 4 weeks. It’s hard to estimate, as I sometimes work on several pieces at the same time, and sometimes only spend 10 minutes on a piece in the day, then 5 hours in a row on another.
When do you feel most inspired or productive? Nighttime? Daytime, anytime?
I don’t know exactly. At one point I believed it was night time, but in fact I don’t care too much of the environment. I can work while talking on the phone, in a bar, in a train, while chatting with friends, day, night, it’s not really important. I just have to sit there and let things flow. It’s like loving sex. You don’t have to be in fancy clothes, light candles, play soft music and drink champagne, if you want to fuck, it can be everywhere. For me , drawing is the same. I love to draw, if I want to draw, I draw.
Do our listen to much Metal while you create your art? What is on your playlist?
Yes, a lot of Metal, but also dark Ambient music, mostly Medieval-inspired or Dungeon Synth. Early Black and Death Metal or recent bands who’re still playing and composing this way, Progressive rock of the 70’s… Playlist of the moment : Arcturus, Mork, Urfaust, Isengard, Strid, Kvist, early Emperor, Dark Ages, Archgoat, Dark Throne, Borgne, Klaus Schulze, early Limbonic Art, Chaucerian Myth… nothing really original, mostly moody music.
I’ve noticed your art has evolved from a darker themes to more fantasy based art. Was this is a conscious decision? Does this mean we might see more of your art on Power Metal or Folk Metal album covers as opposed to Black Metal album covers?
I’m opened to other expressions of course. It depends on what the band needs, if it’s something I can paint or draw. At this very moment, I’m working on Dark Dungeon Synth albums, Folk music, and of course Black Metal album covers. I’ve recently worked on a Folk Metal album too.
Concerning the shift from Black Metal artwork to Fantasy illustration, it cames at a point where I could not find more stuff to illustrate, as at the end of the 90’s, bands began to use mostly photoshopped illustration, photo modifications, with more or less good results… I also had a lot on my plate, raising three kids, feeling a bit tired of everything in the scene. I managed to focus on Fantasy milieu, Role Playing games illustration. It brought me a lot, like exhibiting, going to conventions and faires, and improving my skills. Once I got back into business 8 years ago, I slowly got back to more somber imagery, but with more technique. I still do Fantasy artwork, but darker. Trolls are a fine example of the best of two worlds. I like to draw Trolls, as they both are Mythological/Fairytales creatures, but they also evocate early glory days of Scandinavian Black Metal.
I know this is boring question but where do you draw your inspiration from? Movies, books, other art, music, real life?
It’s really complicated to explain. My mind is like a room, where I put on shelves memories and items, images and feelings, from the past 40 years. I visit it quite often, to find inspiration. If you could visit it, you could find iconography from movies like Lord of the rings cartoon from Ralph Bakshi, Dark Crystal, Conan the Barbarian and Robert E. Howard books, Dragonslayer, early Role Playing Games from the 70 – early 80s, Early Games Workshop games, Fighting Fantasy books, artists from the Golden Age of Illustration (1870-1940), Scandinavian/Germanic folklore, Labyrinth movie, Early Black Metal albums, demos and fanzines, Occult and Sorcery books and iconography, Progressive rock cover art, books from Jack Vance, Fritz Lieber, Moorcock, items I bought here and there, like english Greenmen, Owls statues, Art Nouveau images, a bit of Symbolism too, Medieval/Renaissance architecture, European Folklore and history… Everything that I draw comes from this room. Nothing comes from real life, only from this room of memories and phantasms.
What is your #1 piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Work. Work, and work again. Be never satisfied by your work, even if everyone is telling you that it rocks big time. Don’t listen to them, or you’ll never improve. Be your worst enemy when it comes to judge your own work. Aim for the best that have been done, the unreachable, not the peers that are just a bit above you. Build your own room of memories and phantasms, your own secret garden, fuel it, stuff it. Be curious, learn about where the arts you love comes from, dig for forgotten treasures.