Brad Moore: Is TASTE the Enemy of Art?

Welcome to the House of the Drawing Master.

What “master” is that you say? The illustrator and cult artist known as Brad Moore. Brad is an artist who cannot be labeled as belonging to any one genre or category. Equal parts painter, illustrator, video artist and comic creator! For a lot of folks, Brad is perhaps best known for his [over two dozen] CD cover paintings for Death/Metal bands.

He is also responsible for reviving the legendary underground comic, Skull for Last Gasp, and has worked alongside such industry legends as Steve Bissette, Tim Vigil, and Everette Hartsoe. No less a cartooning legend than S. Clay Wilson, [who] has called him “a visionary.” Rounding out commissions for TV commercial storyboards, designs for film, and comic art for Legacy of Death, and Wombs and Tombs, Brad continues to work in his studio at the Southernmost tip of the state of Illinois.

Please join us as Kinger unravels the inner workings of Brad’s creativity and sheds some new light on this under ground legend via this very rare/exclusive interview.

 

How would you define “art”?

Art is the manifestation, or better still, the externalization of the internal experience (as it filters through the central nervous system) of a super conscious individual. Art can be a theater that takes place in the twilight arena of the mind, part metaphysics, and part reactionary impulse. It’s a decoding of symbols, readable like a well structured sentence, and shared among those who speak that language.

I used to love the quote “Taste is the Enemy of Art” (I cannot remember where that came from), would you agree with this quote?

I believe the quote is from Salvador Dali, and it was something akin to good taste having nothing to do with good art. I’ll have to look that one back up. There’s a great line in the movie “Frida” (about Spanish surrealist painter Frida Kahlo) where Diego Rivera is arguing with another artist (David Alfaro Siqueiros) about how he can’t help it if his patrons have good taste. Siqueiros counters with a line stating the rich pay someone to have good taste for them!! He also implies that it’s all politically motivated, with aesthetic choices taking second place.

Metal art is considered illustration on the level of Dungeons and Dragons art, paperback book covers and the like. The amorphous mass known as “they” have decided that these forms of expression are in bad taste. It’s only because they don’t speak the language, and there’s no political value in skulls and graveyard zombies.

What’s your favorite album cover/artwork?

My hands-down favorite piece is the painting that was chosen by Sixty Watt Shaman, for their album, “Seed of Decades”. The painting was titled “Truncation of the Zodiac”, and it details the three ages of one woman, seeing her life all at once, as we, the viewer, see the universe being infested with insects. That painting is one of my personal triumphs, and most realized efforts, both in technical achievement, and symbolic content. Luckily, it was published by Spitfire Records, so it got a lot of exposure. That’s one painting I really wanted to share!!

 

Truncation of the Zodiac

 

Most recently, I completed the artwork for the first and second recordings for Argus (“s/t”, and “Boldly Stride the Doomed”). Those two covers are making an interesting stir, there was even a contest for viewers to create their own back story and mythology connecting the two paintings. The Argus covers have both been extremely satisfying to create.

I also like the cover art I painted for Divine Empire, “Doomed to Inherit”. The title is actually the title I gave to the painting, and the band adopted that title for the recording mainly because, as a co-incidence, the original title for the CD was “Predatory Inheritance”. That cover painting has an interesting visual illusion in it, where various hands and fingers create an imagined visage of a skull.

 

Who do you think is underrated as an artist?

I really like the work of Arik Roper. I think he could have a bigger audience.

What music are you listening to these days?

I’m really into the east coast Doom scene, so I’m listening to:

  • Earthride
  • Shrine Builder
  • Place of Skulls
  • Solace
  • [I love] Electric Wizard
  • Orange Goblin
  • [and old] Cathedral

In Death Metal, I’ve got back into all my old school tapes like:

  • Death Angel
  • Obituary
  • Napalm Death
  • Sepultura
  • Autopsy

Industrial stuff like:

  • Pitch Shifter
  • Nausea
  • Treponem Pal

But my preferences will always be “gore metal”, like:

  • Necrophagia
  • Ravenous
  • FleshGrind
  • Carcass
  • Cancer
  • Necrotomy

*the list is endless…

What do you think of the “resurgence” [for lack of a better word], of all the 80’s Metal bands? It seems that everyone is coming out of-the-wood-works to release new music and tours etc.?

I’m all about music with vision, skill, and creativity, and a lot of those qualities were found in the music of that era, so I say go for it!!!

I read that your art was exhibited at the GIGER Museum, that’s quite an accomplishment, tell us about that and how that came about?

My work is managed in European countries by The Society for Art of the Imagination, and they contacted H.R. Giger about him curating an international exhibit of surrealistic work, with participants from every continent, once accepted, to be represented. Only two American artists were chosen, and I was one of the two. I’m still amazed by that.

The submissions went through three judging panels, for elimination, before Giger chose the last pieces. I bit my nails through it all, and was amazed that ONE painting( of the dozen I submitted)made the cut. A watercolor, titled “Dwellers in the Horoscope” was chosen for the show, and that piece stayed in Europe for the best part of a year. The exhibit was held in a centuries old castle, in Gruyères, Switzerland, and I’m looking forward to going back, I had an incredible time!!

What’s the scoop on The Society for Art of Imagination? There’s some killer art on their site!

The Society for Art of the Imagination deals exclusively with artists of the surreal and fantastic, and they handle most of my affairs in Europe. They get my artwork into exhibits in London, Switzerland, etc., and protect my interests when I can’t be there. Look up the website, it’s amazing.

You’re considered a legendary “underground artist” by many – what are you more well-known for: being an illustrator for so many Metal bands and or for underground comics perhaps?

It’s odd, but the comix readers don’t always know me for the metal art, but the metal fans all read the gore and horror comix that feature a lot of us “gore” artists, although I’m not strictly a gore-only artist, I never have been. In the 80’s, lots of the thrash and death bands read comic books on the bus and van tours, and I got hired by a bunch of those groups simply because they liked the work they saw in the comix.

Morpheus Descends hired me to do their cover for “Ritual of Infinity” because they had seen my work in Cadaver  (a gore/horror comic published by Fathom Press) and there was an ad for that CD on the back cover of the second issue. Cannibal Corpse chose Vince Locke to be their cover painter because of his work in Dead World, so it’s something of a tradition, I suppose. But it’s hard to say which is better known, those worlds all inter-mingle, each shares energy with the other.

I’ll admit, I’m not super familiar with your entire body of work, but I know you’ve achieved some notoriety as a comic book artist while in college. Tell us about that please and where did you attend college.

I went to Southern Illinois University, and actually taught a comic book class there, years later. I was published just before my last year was completed, and I illustrated a Star Trek Convention catalog. The man who created those conventions – Adam Malin, put my work on Michigan Avenue [in Chicago]…my first professional show.

I drew several pages in the notorious comic book, Jeffery Dahmer, Portrait of a Serial Killer, as full-page pin ups. They supplied me with crime scene photos, and his whole, printed confession, to use as inspiration. Bone Yard press didn’t have permission to print actual photos, so I drew them as if they were collages, in black and white. When the publisher was on tour about the controversy about the book, we stayed in the same hotel as Oprah, and had a wild time at conventions that year.

 

“I will never live long enough to fully realize all the imagery that breeds within my mind.”  ~BRAD MOORE

 

Was this output [as a comic book artist] what enabled you to move into album cover work, T-shirts and or posters?

Yes, as I stated, the musicians were all reading the independent comic books that were coming out at the time. Those books were all very extreme, and offered what the mainstream press couldn’t provide, and metal people want the extreme!! Glad to be of service.

At what point were you able to create a living solely from your creative skills?

Late 80’s or so, it was a gradual process.

It seems as though you have created a huge body of work using various media (i.e. video, film, performance, music + comic strip work). Are there any other methods or mediums that you would like to explore?

I did work on the design and execution of a wall mural, created entirely out of tiles. It was created for a city hall building, and it gave me a great idea for covering and filling space with forms that I immediately started experimenting with (on paper). I came up with a way to lay out wild designs, patterns, that would appear to utilize a great deal of mathematics, but instead, are based upon paper models that help in creating a repeating pattern that appears to go in all directions.

I am fascinated with the pioneering work by Roger Penrose, who worked out a way to fill any space with only two repeating shapes, and that includes corners, rounded areas, and the like. I have copywrited plans that I have repeatedly pitched to record execs, and publishers of all kinds, that would entail multiple points of perspective, light reactive paints and dyes, CD covers that can fold into geometric domes…etc, but so far, no company wants to go to the edge with me.

 

 

My current projects include finishing Issue #2 of Sad Iron Meat, a unique, surreal comic book anthology with gore, horror, humor, and style at a maximum. I’m also illustrating two paperback novels, the first is titled “Golddigger”, and it is BLACK humor/sex and lust tales, the other is “Under the Boardwalk – The Horrifying Truth of Makanda”, a pulp-style book that allows me to pick certain areas of the text to break down and morph into comic book style. Also [using] panel to panel illustration (at various junctures), and then returning to the novel format – only to have it happen several more times. It’s something I don’t think has been done in this way before.

I also have a few exhibits coming up in Missouri and Chicago this summer, and I’m working on new paintings as we speak. If you are interested in the Makanda book project, or issue one or two of Sad Iron Meat, look up the Annihilation Press website, and find out more.

 

Brad Moore – Seer and Seeker

*Art is a language older than literature, cinema, jazz, or ballet. It is a theater that takes place at a spotlit corner in the twilight horizon of the skull. Art, as I have seen and felt it, reflects existence and spirit, as those things themselves are filtered through the central nervous system.

Man began painting on the walls of his cave with the mud on his fingers and the blood of his dinner. I began drawing on brown paper bags from the grocer, with which the dinner was wrapped. Purple crayon was the gateway to the inner world, and I floated above many an entombed continent on that world, landing thus far, on only a few.

After fighting my way through art college and eating modernism three times a day, I found myself illustrating comic books and magazines for a living. This led to my two credos in philosophy; “The media is the gallery of the present”, and, “I’d rather not be a two-headed creature” (a statement about being an illustrator vs a fine artist, let’s forge a fusion!!) To date, my work has been published world-wide up to 300 times, and I have taught/lectured nationwide. My work has always been, and remains today, about the inner life being presented to the outer world. I am from a small, country town, where self-expression and introspection were seen as crimes against nature.

Art, in all it’s forms and media, became and remains the Promethean centerpiece of my existence.

*Bio from A.O.I. website.

 

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