Tuesday 14 February 2017

The Art Of Noise: Feanor Omega - Anima

This series of posts has taken a little longer to get going than I'd hoped, but here's the second instalment!. it features Austrian black metal band Feanor Omega (a band I've been looking to feature here for a while now)  and it delves into the creation of and the meaning behind the cover for the 2015 album "Anima". As I said in my first instalment that features Murderofcrows, this is an evolving idea and this post is certainly a little more in-depth, thanks is part to both the answers provided by F.O. and the cover's artist David Saunders.

Feanor Omega has been active since 2013 and "Anima" was the duo's debut release. Read on to see what both F.O. and David Saunders had to say about the release:-

F.O. - Feanor Omega

When you commissioned David to the artwork for “Anima” what did you have in mind? Did you give him brief or did you allow him to get on with it?

Hi James! For "Anima", it was actually the other way around and a first-time experience like this. The front-cover artwork existed already. As I was searching the Internet for artists and inspiration, I stumbled across David’s homepage, saw the picture and immediately knew that it had to be the artwork for "Anima".  

Did you have much input into the artwork during its creation and what was your reaction to the end result?

So, my first answer already partly answered this question. Since the artwork already existed the communication between David and me was actually rather short. It was love at first sight with the cover and this also describes my reaction to the end result. The process of finishing the artwork (the other pages / layout etc.) was immensely eased by David’s groundwork and I could not be happier with the result.

How does the cover art reflect your music?

I think one of the big advantages of music in general is the great amount of personal interpretation possible. "Anima" describes a mind’s journey and I wish for people to make this journey and the music their own. This is how the artwork is reflected in the music and vice versa. 

David Saunders

When Feanor Omega approached you about designing the cover art for “Anima”, was it the first time you had created artwork for an extreme metal band?

Not at all! I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and while the heavy music scene here is great you normally think of Nashville (and the southeastern US in general) as being synonymous with country music. It definitely took me a while to be introduced to it, but once I was it quickly became one of my favorite types of music. I went to my first metal show in middle school and found the visceral nature of everything really appealing. It was direct, it was confrontational, it was loud. It appealed to all my angsty teen sensibilities and it scared the hell out of my parents (an added bonus). I had lots of friends in metal and hardcore bands and when I first started experimenting with commercial art and design they were kind enough to be my guinea pigs. I made flyers, t-shirt designs, myspace layouts (lol), and of course album art. That interest led to me going to The University of Tennessee to get a degree in graphic design, which I now do professionally. 

How did you come up with the design? Did you listen to Feanor Omega’s music while creating it or were you given a brief beforehand?

It's a funny story really, it was originally a concept created for another band that had commissioned me for work. They wound up either not liking it or not having the money to finish paying for it (or both), I can't really remember which it was. So the project was terminated and it went into my "junk drawer" of unused designs/concepts. Every artist and designer has some sort of graveyard where these projects that never see the light of day go. For me it's mostly a folder on my computer. I occasionally will float some of these unused pieces out on the Internet to see if I can sell them, especially in cases that I really liked the piece. For this one specifically I put it out on a few forums with some other unused pieces and at some point I got an email from Franz Ferdinand Hawa at Cursed Records, which is Feanor Omega's label in Austria. They expressed interest in buying it and we worked out a nicely discounted price (doubly helped by the fact that the Euro was a decent amount stronger than the USD at the time).

I have a number of different processes I employ when designing. This piece was made by altering some open source photos I found online of a mountain range as the base photo. I then inverted the color scheme (which is why the tips of the mountain are darker colors) then used some color adjustment techniques to get it the colors in a good spot. From there I added the striping at the bottom as a grounding element and then put some texture on top of everything to give it a nice worn look. The type treatment for the original design was the same simple lettering so I implemented the same thing for Feanor Omega. 

When you presented the finished work to Feanor Omega, what was the reaction you received and what your own reaction to it?

Seeing as it was mostly "finished" when they first saw it online, I'm not entirely sure of what their first reactions were like. Obviously they liked it enough to buy it, so I'm assuming it was positive! Franz noted that it fit the project "perfectly". Sometimes things just work out like that - you happen upon something that just winds up being a good fit. I definitely prefer the approach of knowing who you're designing for when making album artwork and like to listen to their music as I do it, but that's just not how this one played out. But that's alright! It's humbling to know that with all the issues that arise out of a more global and connected world, there's lots of good that comes out of it as well. I'm just a young working stiff from Tennessee and someone from Austria saw my art on the Internet and wanted to buy it. That's a pretty cool feeling! I have a solid day job as a designer at a software company but do this kind of stuff in my free time. It always winds up being some of the most creatively fulfilling work I do and I'm happy that I get the opportunities to do it. 

You can find David's art and contact information here - http://davidsaunders.co

You can stream, download or by the limited cd copy of "Anima" via Feanor Omega's bandcamp page below:-

Feanor Omega Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/feanor.omega

Thanks very much to both F.O. and David for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving us an insight into the work the went into creating the cover art for "Anima", even though it was a little unorthodox.

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