As well as having MEGADETH main-man Dave Mustaine in their management team, BAPTIZED IN BLOOD also have another heavy metal heavyweight in their camp in the form of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE bassist Mike D, who is responsible for the band’s killer album sleeve.
We sat down for a chat with Mike to find out more about his design work and how putting this cover together came about…
How did you get into graphic design?
I knew a lot of bands that needed 7″ and demo tape covers when I was a kid. Since I went to a Vocational High School (Graphic Arts Shop), I used to sneak projects on the press without the teachers knowing. It only took a few minutes to run off a few hundred covers, so I never had to pay and I never got caught.
How important is the tie between art and music in your opinion?
They are both the same to me: ways to express yourself. Nothing beats a great cover on a great record. Most times the cover gives a “face” to the faceless music genre.
What to you personally are the most iconic album covers in existence?
Cro-Mags “Best Wishes”
Iron Maiden “Number Of The Beast”
Iron Maiden “Piece Of Mind”
Iron Maiden “Live After Death”
Soilwork “Natural Born Chaos”
Judas Priest “Screaming For Vengence”
Misfits “Die Die My Darling”
You’ve featured wild life before, and on Killswitch’s South American tour diary, we watched you snap pictures of the rainforest for inspiration. Can you sum up your take on nature in art, and art in nature?
Since I travel for a living, I take photos everywhere I go. It gives me an infinite supply of artwork for my projects, since I can’t draw. Nature is everywhere and different everywhere, so naturally I try to get as much variety as I can.
What were you going for on Baptized in Blood’s cover?
I just wanted to make the band happy. They only knew what they didn’t like, so I was throwing everything I had at them. They are a band with their own vision, and that can be a very admirable quality.
Was the shark your idea or their’s?
It was an idea I sent over to them. Like I said, I am an artist that relies on using my own photos to create my artwork, and action shots of sharks are hard to come by. It was the first time I have ever had to use “stock” photography for a layout. Luckily the shot was affordable.
How did you get connected with the guys in the first place?
Gail Marowitz, the Creative Director at Roadrunner, recommended me, and the BiB guys thought it was a good idea.
Who are some other artists you’ve worked for aside from BiB and KsE?
Some of my clients I have worked with at DarkicoN design are: New England Metal and Hardcore Fest, Shadows Fall, Overcast, Soilwork, Unearth, All That Remains, Crowbar, Ibanez Guitars/Basses, Tama Drums, Roadrunner Records, No Mercy Clothing, Throwdown, Bandmerch, Only Crime, Six Feet Under, Rock and Shock Fest, Ferret Music, Metal Blade Records, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Lifeforce Records, Mass Concerts, 36 Crazyfists, Trivium, Blood Has Been Shed, Cannibal Corpse, Metal Hammer Magazine, Sworn Enemy, Madball, Chimaira, Caliban, Pressure Fest, Clear Channel, Disembodied, Godbelow, Endless Fight Records, Bloodjinn, Fates Warning, Grimlock, Heaven Shall Burn, Diecast, Bloodwitch, For The Love Of, Miltown, Kingpin, Shed, Day Of Mourning, All Else Failed, Lifeless Records, Strikeforce/Samson Records, Flatline Records, Blasphemour Records, and Alone Records.
Which album cover design are you most proud of and why?
Well, Killswitch Engage’s LP “The End Of Heartache” recently got voted the 6th best cover in RR history…. that’s a pretty cool feeling.