Artist & Vocalist for VORPAL NOMAD Felipe Machado Franco
Interview by JP
When did you first find you had an interest and talent for art?
I guess it was at a really young age, My older brothers paint and draw and they had LPs of Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden at home so I guess they somehow directed my interest in art and Metal. Then at age 12 I got into comics and that really got me inspired.
Tell us about the early years of your professional career.
I studied visual arts and graphic media here in Bogota, graduated back in 2003 but before that I was testing Photoshop on my own and at art school there where some kids with bands so I started offering concert posters designs and cover artworks for their demos. I didn’t dare charge at first but then a teacher said to me that that was my future and so I made a business out of it.
When I graduated I had two portfolios, one with academic figure drawing stuff and then the other secret one full of digital dark Metal stuff. After a trip at a comic book convention in SF my forbidden portfolio got me a job as a freelance designer for Lucas Films creating art for Revenge Of The Sith style guide, that is a book with all the official images a franchise licenses when they are promoting. I still work for them from time to time.
What was your first commissioned piece for a Metal band?
I did some stuff for some Spanish bands like Crisis de Fe and Angelus Apatrida early on but Axel Rudi Pell was the first big guy on the metal scene that gave me a change, I contacted him with a link to my proto web page and he said show me an artwork that could depict what I need and if is cool the job is yours. After Him I landed jobs with Silent Force, At Vance…
What attracts to you to the Metal genre as a singer and artist?
I think is one of the most inspiring forms of expression in mankind. If you have a bad day and you listen to Never Say Die by Iron Savior you can go on with anything bad happening around you. In your own words Metal Rules¡¡¡
What other Metal artists (not bands or musicians but artists who do album covers) have inspired you?
Inside the Metal world… well is not a secret for everyone that I admire Andreas Marshall works, I also like the works of Necrolord and Gyula Havancsák. Outside of it recently I’m a lot into concept art and I love the work of Stephan Martiniere and Anthony Jones.
I know it is hard to choose but what are some of your favorite pieces that have appeared on Metal album covers?
From Illustrators I admire my top One is Helloween Better Than Raw, that cover art says Helloween all around, I don’t know why they don’t keep working with Rainer Laws, he rocks¡¡¡ I also love the cover art of Iron Maiden’s Somewhere In Time. Blind Guardian’s Mr. Sandman is also cool, full of details all around.
Do you have a preference between digital design and hand-drawn?
Not really, I wish I had the time to do all my work on pencil, then inks and then paint but is just to time consuming. I think you either create nice art or not and the tools should not dictate if you know how to make something nice.
What is your favorite medium to work in?
I love to draw on my sketchbook with pencil and that is probably where my best ideas come to life but Photoshop is now like an extension of me. Is one of the coolest inventions of all time.
Tell us about the creative process. Do you stay up all night working and drinking coffee for many hours or do you work on little parts at a time?
Cool question, it depends If I’m working for a band that give me complete creative freedom Ill stay up all night doing my best, because is up to me to come up with an intelligent concept to represent the music inside the CD. If I’m developing a concept based on a bands idea I usually come and go, even if is a cool concept. Lately I go all the way until I have something that I like or until my wife calls me and asks me if I’m planning to go home or if Ill be living at my studio from now on 😉 All starts with a simple pencil sketch so that the band and I can discuss ideas; once they approve the basic composition I start working the digital artwork.
Do bands tell you what they want on the cover or do you have complete control?
It depends, some bands already have a vision in their minds and if the vision is cool or if I need to pay bills I go for it. But the best scenario is when a band trusts you as an artists and you can prove you where the guy for the job by proposing a visual concept for the CD.
People like Riggs, Petango and Verwimp have designed coffee table books of their works. Have you considered doing one?
Regarding design is almost ready; I’m looking for a publisher right now 😉
A Sampling of Felipe Machado Franco’s work
Is any of your art for sale?
When I do an art expo or workshops on digital art or Metal cover art I usually carry limed edition prints of some of my works for sale. Regarding album covers I basically work on demand I don’t keep a stock of artworks.
When did you start your singing career?
I guess back when I was in high school, some friends and me started a band called Hellbender that had some demos and we played cover songs from Stratovarius, Helloween and Blind Guardian.
Tell us a a bit about Vorpal Nomad.
Vorpal Nomad is a Power Metal band that Nicolas Waldo and I started in 2010. In 2011 we self released a first five songs maxi called The Spirit Machine that had nice reviews and a few months back we released our first full length album called Hyperborea that we recoded at ART Studio and it was mixed and mastered by Piet Sielck of Iron Savior. Piet and Oliver Hartmann of Avantasia are also guest in some of the songs. After we published on YouTube our first single Skull Island from the new CD Blind Guardian was kind enough to post a link to it on their Facebook page and a few weeks after Metalodic Records signed us.
Apart from that each year we like to put out a single in October so the most recent thing happening with the band is that the new single Hocus Pocus is now on iTunes and Amazon, the song was mixed by Matt Smith of the band Theocracy.