I can’t believe I got to do a Metallica poster. Seriously.
When I was 17-years-old, I spent a week and a bunch of materials pilfered from my high school art supply room painting a Metallica banner several feet long to enter into contest thrown by a local radio station. The prize: backstage passes to the Omaha (where I grew up and lived at the time) stop of Metallica’s tour for their black album. I won and it in a way was the first “gigposter” I ever made.
Now all these years later I’m tapped by the people at Nakatomi to do a date for the band’s 2017 tour.
At first I thought maybe this would be a good chance to drop my usual conceptual stuff and just try my hand at a straight up Metal poster. Skulls and all that. I actually had a Heavy Metal (the comic) inspired idea that I may do something with for a poster in the future if I can find a band it jibes with ready to go but it was suggested that maybe I try something different since lots of other artists in the series were likely to be going the Heavy Metal Poster route.
Metallica’s newest album is titled Hardwired…To Self-Destruct and it’s themes are pretty self-evident. It’s actually a pretty great return to form for them: stripped down without being too self aware, lean, muscular heavy rock roughly hubbed around our inherent need to seek our own destruction. That was my “in.”
I wanted to do something that felt current and relevant to how things feel in America in 2017. The challenge is that it needed to feel aware of current politics without being too partisan. After all, Metallica’s appeal is really broad and I didnt want it to be something that spoke narrowly. Visually, I pulled from the recent past. Violence and anger as information and entertainment. Distorted flickering CRT TV scanlines scroll and flicker and reveal snatches of vitriolic talking heads, serpents, and ultimately fuse form into a mushroom cloud. The band logo (which we were given a lot of freedom to interpret) looms imposingly over it all but even here the logo is dressed up with facets of bright color, showing that it is both above and part of the angry entertainment. The date and city carry through the visual theme by warping and rolling like an onscreen channel guide distorted by the roiling images under it.
Both the band and Nakatomi were a pleasure to work with and it was a tremendous experience getting to contribute a little piece to the legacy of one of the world’s biggest rock bands. This is a handsome 18×24” offset print produced in a limited capped run.