Interview with Ramon Martos, author of And Justice For Art-Volume 2

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Interview with Ramon Martos
Author of And Justice For Art-Volume 2

by JP

How long did it take you to decide to do a Part 2?

“And Justice For Art – Volume 2” reveals the stories behind some of heavy music’s greatest album covers, as told by the visual artists and bands. The foundations for this new book were there even before the release of the first volume in 2015. The original version of Volume 1 was about 400 pages long. Because of the logistic and budgetary constrains of releasing such a long book, I decided to leave some material out. After the first book received broad universal acclaim (two additional editions were printed to satisfy the demand) I decided to start working on a second part. I started gathering new information, stories and graphics to create Volume 2. Of course, I included some of the first book’s unused material.

Was it easier, harder or maybe more familiar the second time around?

I was hoping for an easier making-of process, but it was as challenging and grueling as the first book. Of course, I was already familiar with the steps that I needed to take. Despite having some material already in place, it was almost like starting from zero. Since I wanted to explore in detail each cover artwork featured in the book, I had to do a lot of research, securing the rights of hundreds of new images and interviewings dozens of bands/artists. This took almost two years of work. Also, since I decided to give this new book a pure conversational style, the editing process needed to be more precise. Plus, I gave the material to an outside editor for additional revisions.

The design process was also time-consuming. Although both books have a similar look, they are different in many aspects. Visually, this second book is a considerable improvement. This was not a typical ‘copy/paste’ of images and text in a pre-designed layout. All the layouts were created from scratch because I wanted to give the new book its own visual personality. That process took several months.

I noticed a thematic similarity between the cover art of both books.  Who did the cover art?

Indeed, the cover of “And Justice For Art – Volume 2” is a continuation of the first book’s front artwork. It was designed by talented Romanian artist, Costin Chioreanu. He is, in my opinion, one of the premier artists working in the Metal scene today. He has produced covers, illustrations and videos for many of the world’s greatest bands, including At The Gates, Emperor, Opeth, Enslaved, Napalm Death and many more.

Costin took the main elements of the first book’s cover and created something new for Volume 2. This new illustration expands on the concept of the artistic creative process, the metaphysical qualities of visual arts and its effect on audiences. I could not ask for a better graphic to represent a book about Metal album covers. In addition, Costin also wrote the book’s afterword, which is quite insightful.

How did you decide on which covers to feature?  Do you have requests from fans to highlight any album covers?

“And Justice For Art – Volume 2” continues the journey that started in the previous book. It continues revealing the stories behind many Heavy Metal album covers that people easily identify but know nothing about. I chose artworks from the early days of Metal up to the year 2018. This is a visual journey that includes album graphics/stories from most of Metal’s sub-genres and aesthetics.

I chose a few personal favorite covers and took in consideration people’s suggestions. However, it was more important to create a book that was well-balanced, visually and narratively. That’s why I included album covers as different as Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell, Death’s The Sound Of Perseverance, Amorphis’ Tales From The Thousand Lakes, Type Of Negative’s Bloody Kisses, Metallica’s Death Magnetic, Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse and Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance, among many others. So, visual and conceptual variety was an extremely important factor.

Is it difficult at times to track down who owns the rights to the art and get formal permission to reproduce it?

That’s one of the most challenging aspects of the project. Sometimes is just contacting the bands, labels or visual artists and request their authorization, hoping they won’t have any objection. Some people have been extremely generous and allowed me to reproduce certain images free of charge. That was helpful given the budgetary restrictions of a project like this. But sometimes it gets really difficult. Some people request ridiculous amounts of money that I can’t afford. It also becomes almost impossible to track down some copyright holders. In a few cases, I have spent years trying to find the owner of a single image. But, for the most part, I was lucky to get the permissions I needed.

I’m assuming demand for Part I has spiked a little with the publication of Part 2.  Are any copies of Part 1 still for sale, or have you considered a re-press?

Indeed, many people that found out about “And Justice For Art” via the second book have asked for the first volume. Sadly, “And Justice For Art – Volume 1” has been out of print for a couple of years. And (since this is a self-published project funded by fans), I currently don’t have the resources to print a new edition.
However, the beauty of books like “And Justice For Art” is that you don’t need to see or read the first part to understand or enjoy the second. Although they’re similar in concept, they’re totally independent books. In fact, each chapter focuses on a specific album cover, so all the chapters are also independent. You can buy “And Justice For Art – Volume 2” and enjoy it 100% without having to see a single page of the first book. I think that’s awesome.

What was the most interesting or revealing story that came to light about a band, band member of artist in the creation of your new book?

That’s difficult to answer given the many interesting revelations I got from artists and bands. One of the craziest anecdotes I remember right now is about the cover for Hypocrisy’s The Fourth Dimension. The guy in the cover wrapped with plastic bags and tape was the band’s bassist. At the beginning, he was cool with the whole idea, but, after a while he started suffocating, became anxious and started to say: “I want to get out.” By then, it was too late to call the whole thing off. Maybe that’s why that cover looks so good and claustrophobic. Of course, that’s only one of the many unusual stories revealed in the book. There are hundreds like that.

Now that AJFA2 has been published, is the next logical step a Part 3?

I started working on a potential third volume last year and finished about 50 pages. However, I had to stop because the new “And Justice For Art – Volume 2” books arrived from the printer and I had to start shipping copies. This is pretty much a ‘one-man project’ and I also have two jobs, so my time is limited. Also, you need to be in the right creative mindset to write a book. You cannot force the process. If you do that the result won’t be good. I do things at a slow-yet-steady pace. So far, that has worked well. That’s how I keep it Metal.

Thank you!

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