Wednesday 15 November 2017

INTERVIEW: Dylan Garrett Smith at Shadow Woods Metal Fest, September 14/17, 2017

By: Mark Ambrose

From September 14-17, hundreds of metal fans descended on White Hall, Maryland for a weekend of camping, music, and generic mayhem at the third annual Shadow Woods Metal Fest.  THE SLUDGELORD was on the scene and managed to snag a few interviews with performers, artists, and the people behind this unique, amazing musical event.  As part of our coverage, we conducted an e-mail interview with artist Dylan Garrett Smith, who designed the official Shadow Woods Metal Fest logo and has worked with dozens of bands in the metal scene – from genre superstars to underground darlings.

Could you introduce yourself and offer a quick bio?  What media do you work in?

My name is Dylan Garrett Smith and I’m an artist/illustrator/designer living in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  For my illustrations, I primarily use ashes, chalk-lead, and ink on black cotton-rag paper, but I have also used (and continue to occasionally use) the ashes of a burnt church as a drawing material or mixed into my ink when I’m screen printing posters.  I attended the first year of Shadow Woods and had an absolute blast – I met a lot of people, I discovered a lot of bands I hadn’t heard of, and saw some bands that I already really liked, so last year, I decided to go back as a vendor and sell my prints, patches, and pins.  After last year, Mary contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing the poster and shirt design for this year – I said, “Hell yeah!” and got to work!

Could you highlight some of the musicians/bands who you've created artwork for and what that process is like?

I’ve created art for Mastodon, Baroness, Sodom, All Pigs Must Die, Early Graves, The Funeral Pyre, Wildspeaker, High Priest, Of Feather and Bone, Old Wounds, and literally dozens of others.   Whenever I create anything for bands, whether they’re as big as Baroness or a band putting merch together for their first tour, I always sit down with their records and take them in; listen to the songs, read the lyrics, and get a feel for what they’re about.  From there, I start sketching – and most of the time, no one will see the first or second sketches because I’m just putting information down and figuring things out.  But once I have a sketch that shows a more solid idea of the concept that I’m working with, I’ll send it over to them to check out and if they like where it’s going, I begin working up the final image.

In what ways does music influence your creative process? Do you have "go to" bands or albums when working?

Absolutely – some of my favorite records to listen to in my studio are “Torn Beyond Reason” by Woods of Desolation, “Burning for the Ancient” and “…and the lamps expire” by Addaura, and “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull” by Earth.  These records are some of my favorites of all time and perfect for me to listen to while working because I’m able to reach this calm state of relaxation (which is otherwise extremely rare for me) where I’m not actively thinking about anything – I can just work.

Are there any artists, visual or otherwise, who distinctly influenced your style, medium, or process?

There are literally dozens of artists whose work has been influential to me not only finding my own voice as a creative, but that continue to inspire me still.  Paul Romano, Pushead, Jeremy Hush, Seldon Hunt, Florian Bertmer, all of the incredible artists working with The Vacvvm – and a ton of others, but I also think that rather than a single artist, the most influential thing in every aspect of my life and my creative growth has been growing up in punk.  My work ethic, problem-solving skills, aesthetic, political views, lifestyle, outlook, and everything else came from growing up in the DIY punk scene.

There have been several blogs and articles calling attention to appropriated or "repurposed" artwork, generally taken without credit to the original artist, specifically in the world of "music artwork". Could you speak a little about the current attention to this issue and your feelings on artistic credit in general?

It’s always a bummer when I see an artist not getting the credit that they deserve – whether that’s from a band using art without permission, another artist claiming someone’s work as their own, or a publication posting about a new album without mentioning who designed it.  Do your own work, praise the people that are doing cool things, and credit your artists.  Always.

Who was your "must see" act going into Shadow Woods? Who was a pleasant new discovery for you?

Going into the third year of Shadow Woods, the bands I absolutely needed to see were Panopticon, Woe, Withered, and Black Table.  All of them exceeded my expectations – they were phenomenal.  But a few bands that I had never checked out that I really enjoyed were Night Raids, Erlkonig, Voarm, Infera Bruo, and Worthless.  Overall, Human Bodies was the most exciting discovery for me – I’ve been listening to them nonstop since being home.  And if you’ve never seen Heavy Temple, make it a priority!

Finally, where can fans view and purchase your work? Feel free to promote any musical/film/literary/etc. projects you're involved in as well.

My work is available on my site, as well as various shops, galleries, bands, and brands around the country (and a few others).  The best way to stay up-to-date on my creative endeavors is to follow me on Instagram at @dylanxvx.  Thank you for taking the time to check out my work!