Released in May 2015 through Svart Records from Finland, the newest book from graphic artist Costin Chioreanu (Twilight13Media, BLOODWAY), who was also the official graphic artist of the Dutch Roadburn Festival. I sat down with Costin to discuss this new selection of his mixed media artworks, his creative process and inspirations. See the full interview below and be sure to check out this amazing publication full of light, darkness, and magic.
Hey Costin! Great to have you here! You have recently released your book Magic as a Golden Mean through Svart Records from Finland. Tell me more about this volume, what it means to you personally and to whom you dedicate this release. Also, how did that come about in the first place?
Hey Karol, thank you so much for the interest in my work! Yes, “Magic As A Golden Mean” is my first artbook, or maybe better said, a collection of arts gathered under a concept, combined with some stories about my life, visions and experiences so far. I must say the story part is not that complex, I mean it is not a complete biographic thing, is more like a quintessence of 33 years of living on this planet, surfacing subjects connected from philosophy, to living and being a part of the metal scene in a post-communist country…and many other complex subjects. So, I tried actually to offer a compressed package of my deepest thoughts to whom will get the book, instead of telling, literally, my story, how I got here and so on. After the story, you get a collection of arts split in 3 chapters: Darkness, Light and Magic. The chapters are ideologically correct from chronological side of my life. First I’ve been fascinated and later lost in darkness, afterwords I discovered light, and in the end I realized that I am just a traveler who needs to work with both sides, as I have both these “ingredients” running into my blood… so in the end I discovered my path, which is the magic one.
The book looks amazing, Svart did a fantastic job on the production side, and I had only great reviews so far. And about Svart, even them are mentioned in the book, as the story of our relationship is also magic. When I was invited in Finland at “To Mega Therion Festival” to present my exhibition “Where Purgatory Ends”, the guys from Svart got there as well and so we met and since then I know they like what I am doing. We discussed back in the days as if someday I will want to publish something, they will be interested into produce it. So, after few years, here we are, words become reality. I personally want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for putting so much passion into this release.
How was the pre-launch party at Roadburn? Also, what do you think about the fest in general? How was this year’s edition?
Roadburn for me is like the second home, as I have an incredible great relationship with the organizer and I already feel like I am a part of a great family. So every year, Roadburn become like a celebration of our passion and our friendship. This festival is probably the most friendly festival I’ve been to and I don’t think there is somebody outhere who can tell the opposite. Every year I am doing a collection of 5 -6 art posters for some shows from the Roadburn line-up, and also 2-3 animated screenings for some of the headliner shows. This year I was honored to work on screenings with ENSLAVED, WARDRUNA and their project entitled SKUGGSJA. Was a lot of work, but in the end I think the result was really cool.Also, this year I was invited there with my exhibition “The End Goes On”, exclusively related to the AT TH E GATES – “At War With reality” graphic project. All the arts made for this album were exposed in the venue of the festival, that was pretty awesome, as that project means a lot for me…and if I am thinking deeper, I realize that the art book made for this album is actually my very first artbook.
Back to your work Costin, how do find prospective clients and develop the marketing factor?
For several years already, I am not searching for clients, all of them are reaching me, being guided by other people I’ve been working with or other various things.
What is your creative process? Can you run IDIOTEQ readers through it from the very inception of an idea to the final execution?
Sure. First interaction between me and the person I am working with is related about my availability taking in consideration the deadline of the project. There are no standard quotes, as every band wants something else, and no matter if the graphic style is the same (or not), there are always particularities which can affect the time I will spend on the project. I mean even just a front cover, depending on the record’s concept , can be more tricky or easy to illustrate. So, that’s why I always ask: to listen to music and read the lyrics, to see what ideas the client can have over his own music (or not), the way he imagine it to be…to check out the concept. In the end, I boil all these ingredients in my head and let them to grow…out, as the fume transforming into a image. Then, I start to be the hunter of that image, trying to catch it , as complete as possible, on paper, suing pencil. So next step is the pencil sketch. If the pencil sketch is approved, then I go on inking, painting, scanning and manipulate everything to reach the final version. After that one is presented and approved (at that level no more than very few minor things can be changed anyway) then I go to fix other parts of teh project, like booklets, inserts, etc. This is the process of my work.
Looking back at all these years developing your skills, how do you reflect on your approach to designing cover art?
Well, there is a lot of improvement, of course. I always learn something new and I like to evolve, mostly at the level of expression. I am more interested to catch the right ghost from the infinite mind’s corridors than to describe a wrong image with lots of details. I am interested in essence, even I am not that abstract concerning results. So I can say all these years I learned how to see better the unseen. Of course, there are also technical improvements all over the place, taking in consideration that I had tones of projects so far.
What initially inspired you to start creating dark illustrated art?
When I was a kid, and I discovered heavy metal, here in my country we had just bootlegs, and most of them were looking like shit. I mean poor quality xerox covers, sometimes having no illustration, just text or sometimes, even worst, having the wrong cover! So back then I started to search in the very few metal magazines I could reach here, the reviews sections to see how some of the covers were actually looking like, and after I started to redraw them for my cassette collection. This is how everything started. Later, when I started to play heavy metal, I needed to go deeper and to create original arts to reflect my own ideas…and so on..so even my design studio was established in 2003 officially, my work started when I was very young, in 1994.
Who are your beloved visual artists and what draws you to their work? Is there a specific style or period from which you draw your inspiration?
There are many talented artists all over the planet. I can just discover a new one at a simple facebook scroll. I am not AT ALL a fan of Renaissance and all the currents related. I am not a fan of hyper realism, but I love really ancient magic symbolism. I can be two thousand times more excited about a piece of Nazca painted pottery than any 3 X 5 meters large hyperealist painting showing how angels are softly flying around some naked ladies near a river. But again, I can admit the quality hyper realism when is really needed and when is the proper style to reflect an idea. I would just prefer it to remain useless. But, I guess is impossible in such terrifying materialistic society we are living in.
With all of the stuff that you’ve created so far, what continues to inspire you to reach out for more?
Is very hard for me to talk about inspiration sources, as I am not working basing on that. The most influential sources are totally random, and most of the times not a painting of another artist or a cover made by other designer. There are things happening in life, around, you just need to have the eyes for them. I am not talking bullshit, we all know in metal music clients sometimes want “to look like X or Y”, but that is just crap. There is no progress when everything is stuck in between some useless marketing scarecrows.
What projects do you plan to create this and the next year? I mean both graphic arts and your other undertakings.
Outside all the graphic projects I am working on, I will release the debut full length album of my band, BLOODWAY, in September by I. Voidhanger records. That will be the highest point I reached so far in understanding and exploring the heavy metal music and art. I think is the best thing I ever done in metal and also the visual part is pretty…magical. So, I am super excited by this! Also, I have a big project in my head for 2 years already, but it seems that it still like to remain in the back of my mind. It is there, it is growing, but it is so complex that, most probably, I will need to learn more and to experience more in order to be able to properly express it. But, at least the main idea is there, like a seed , and is growing.
Lastly, what advice would you give to an emerging graphic artist and illustrators?
I am by far not the best person to ask for advices, hahaha. But…I will try. Believe in what you are doing and don’t treat it as a job. As long as you take it as a job, a job will be, and nothing more. Don’t search literally for inspiration in images of others, try out your own perspective and your own understanding. Put your own life into the image you are creating and it should be fine.
Thanks Costin! Cheers for your answers and good luck with your future projects!