Artists, designers, illustrators, photographers – these people are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of the music scene. Without them we would not have the visual art that is such an important though somewhat undervalued aspect of music. Album covers, band logos, promotional images and tour posters are all things that are so integral to a scene’s aesthetics or a particular artist’s identity. Many of these artists spend a lot of their time offering their talents to those in the scene, in the process developing their own distinct styles that can be seen throughout their work. So, in an effort to learn more about the work they contribute to the scene and the things that inspire them, we’ve started this series of Artist Profiles, where we have a chat with some of the finest artists currently operating in the DIY music scene.
Today, we’re talking to Meg of Sludgework, whose distinct black and white style has been put to good use for a host of band logos, zines and album covers. Her work is pure metal, boasting a ton of cracked skulls, oozing gore and cosmic horror imagery. Recently, we were delighted to have a new Sludgework design based on Bloodborne boss the Orphan Of Kos feature in our zine focused on FromSoftware’s Soulsborne series of video games.
Eager to find out more about what inspires Sludgework’s unique designs, we posed Meg some questions on stylistic influences, artistic techniques and more.
Tell us a bit about your creative process. What do you take inspiration and influence from?
Once a brief is given to me I make sure I research what is required for it, then the most important thing is to start with the specs. I develop the overall with input and feedback from the client. I welcome any and all communication and feedback along the way.
The process starts with a quick pencil sketch to check the layout, move to linework and get that checked, and then go into details and then finishing touches. If the client prefers I just go for it from scratch then that’s fine too and I will simply send them updates along the way. Often I will make pieces that have backgrounds which are suitable for multiple platforms/media too. I want the client to get as much value out of their artwork from me, so if I can do anything to add to that I will do.
Which artists, visual or otherwise, influence your work?
Through music and always being (however wrongly) persuaded into listening to music more through the cover art, I discovered Mark Riddick. The guy is insane, in a good way. Absolute benchmark for pen and ink metal illustration. I don’t want to imitate him, or even copy any artwork, because no one else can do what he does. So I often refer to his artwork just to get me inspired to move onto my next piece and do it the best I can. In a world of pleasing and vibrant digital art, I always love going back to his work.
What can you tell us about the Orphan Of Kos design you did for the Soulsborne zine? What techniques and processes went into its creation?
When I was asked to do an illustration of a character from Soulsborne I was starting from zero as I was not familiar with the game or universe or any of the characters. I began some research and reached out to some friends who were more familiar. I found a character I loved the look of and I knew I could adapt to my drawing style. I didn’t want it to be a drawing of Orphan Of Kos, I wanted it to be the character adapted to Sludgework style.
Your unique black and white gothic style can be seen on all of your work. How did you develop this style? Did you always plan to have your own distinct style?
My style developed from creating logos and cover art for bands and brands which fit into a more alternative niche. I have a way of drawing, which can range from more cartoony skulls to more detailed larger pieces, but this has just developed over time. There is variation but looking through my portfolio I think my work now has its own stamp which is becoming recognisable, it’s nice. The black and white colour scheme comes from using pen and ink. I am not adverse to colour, but other people use colour better than me, I want to work to my strengths.
Are you trained as an artist or is it something you just picked up?
I have never received training, nor taken any art qualifications. I am entirely self-taught. Drawing has been an interest since I was very young, and once I got to university in 2011 it became a passion.
Is there a particular piece of work you’re most proud of?
This changes regularly. Proud is a term which I tend to link to the recipient’s overall reaction and experience with the artwork I make for them. I’m proud of a piece if it brings value to someone and they are pleased with it.
What have you got planned for the future?
The only thing I want to do is Sludgework. I just want to create art for people who can use it for their own projects, and get something from it. I absolutely love that. Making a living from it is a dream for sure. To continue to work with individuals and bands and brands and expand to more opportunities would be huge.
Words: George Parr