Can you tell us something about yourself? (Age, where do you live etc.)
I was born in Derby, England in 1949, where I still live. Derby is about 20 kilometres from Donnington, birth place of the first Monsters of Rock Festival. Derby is aIso on the edge of the Peak District where I spent many happy hours painting outdoors, something all artists should do, nothing better than painting from life. I like to keep my aging body in some kind of condition so I weight train, something I have done since my teenage years. I also enjoy motor bikes, I currently have a 1000 cc Aprilia, my pride and joy. The only other person I allowed to ride it was Biff from Saxon, not just a wild man with a mike, also a wild man on a bike.
What was your first contact with Rock-Music? (Not the Artwork-Business!)
I was a child of the sixties, I believe the most innovative period for music to date. The bands of that era would be Dylan, The Rolling stones, The Beatles, The Who, Cream, The Doors, the list is endless, I consider myself privileged having been there. Of all the genre of music, I have to say blues was my first love, and if you consider how many early bands were influenced by the music, you can see how Rock and Metal was born.
What was your first job for a band?
My first job for a band was for Saxon, I was introduced to their management through a mutual friend, The Album was Crusader and the rest as they say is history. It was also the first and last time I designed a stage set.
What are your working-methods?
I paint in oil on canvas, I also use acrylic and in the past pastel, a real hands on medium. When I’m doing a cover I always send rough ideas via email, when I consider how much it used to cost to get images to different parts of the globe, all I can say is long live the computer and digital camera.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration, well I find many things inspiring , music, reading, walking. I started a series of paintings inspired by J.R.R.Tolkien’s “The Lord of The Rings” some twenty-five years ago. I’m still producing this series to date.
Please describe your “style” in a few sentences.
Ever evolving. Figurative fantasy art. If I do a cover it’s style in part is dictated by the band, Molly Hatchet covers, have always had the epic conan warrior, originally designed by the great Frank Frazetta. Saxon’s covers are different again. This is one of the reasons I enjoy painting covers, it can often take you down a path you would not have otherwise trod.
How closely do work together with the musicians?
I always try to get as much input from the band as possible and they have to date always obliged, but some do have more input than others. When I did the cover “A Night at the Opera” for Blind Guardian they had a specific idea they wanted, I was sending visuals and changing areas all the time to arrive at the final cover. It was great fun.
Are there any working-relationships that have become a real friendship?
I am by nature an easy going sort of guy and given enough time might grow on you. So the bands I’ve worked with the longest, Saxon and Molly Hatchet I consider friends, but having said that all the bands I have worked with I consider friends.
What do you take as your best work/finest hour? Why?
I don’t, many years ago I held an exhibition at my then Gallery of a notable artist who was then in his late seventies, Terrance Cuneo, who has since past on to that great canvas in the sky.
I asked him a similar question, what was your best work? His reply, for which I shall be eternally grateful, ‘the next one’.
What was your most interesting/challenging job?
All the work I do would comes under that category.
Are there any funny background-anecdotes to one of your works that might Want to tell us about?
Can’t think of any right now, but I’m sure there are.
Your favourite bands right now? Why?
I don’t subscribe to the idea you have to have a favourite band, Painter, Author. I don’t think in those terms.
Are there other cover-artists that you like? Idols, Inspirations, Heroes?
One of the greatest illustrators has to be Frank Frazetta, if there’s a great composition he’s already done it. But my influences as an artist are many and varied. I’ve always been inspired by painters, like Raphael, Tuner, also the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood’s approach to painting.
What do you do besides the CD-Artworks?
I am first and foremost a painter, all of my large canvases go to the Leicester Galleries in London. I’m also a promoter. I and my business partner Vince Brotheridge formed amust4music five years ago from which Bloodstock was born. Bloodstock is the UK’s largest and best independent Metal Festival. From Bloodstock, in 2005 came Bloodstock Open Air (B-O-A)
Thomas Jenson of Wacken is a great friend and supporter of Bloodstock and has given us his input to making our festival the success it has become.
How important is a good cover for the success of an album?
I don’t believe that has ever been true, as they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. However covers can become popular after the success of an album. Artwork is part of the packaging, good artwork will help establish a bands identity but as to the success of the album, that inevitably comes down to the contents.
Do you miss the Vinyl-format?
Yes, this is why I’m currently working on a book of my album art. The size will be vinyl format. It will consist of comments from some or all of the bands, the images will be seen as I intended them to be seen plus loads of other stuff.