Interview – Eliran Kantor – Cover Art Designer

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Eliran Kantor
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Eliran Kantor ist Cover Art Künstler für viele namhafte Bands. Zuletzt gestaltete er das Cover der Death Metal Band Thy Art is Murder – davor für viele weitere bekannte Bands. Dieses Jahr stellte er viele seine Bilder beim diesjährigen Wacken Festival aus – wo auch wir auf ihn aufmerksam wurden. Wir haben dem Künstler mit einigen Fragen gelöchert in Bezug auf seinen Job:

Are you into metal music yourself?
Yes, it has been a major passion of mine even since I was 14. My dad got me into Deep Purple, Scorpions and Black Sabbath. And then I went on to look for the names I’ve heard on Beavis and Butthead, like Megadeth, Metallica and Iron Maiden.

Who was your first cover deisgn for? How did it come to that?
The timeline is a bit fuzzy there, it was either Solitary or Armilos, whos line-up included future Orphaned Land members Matan and Idan.
As a 17 year old teen and a massive CD collector at the time, I was just so thrilled when I got these CDs. I have a really vivid picture of those moments in my mind. I got both outside of a local gig and I’ve probably stayed outside checking every panel and part of them, that I probably missed a couple of the opening acts.
Both bands heard about me because we had friends in common, and I used to paint murals on the walls of my friends’ bedrooms.

Who did you do cover art for?
I think for over 150 albums at this point. Most notable would probably be:
Testament, Iced Earth, Hatebreed, Sodom, Soulfly, Crowbar, Kataklysm, Atheist, Thy Art is Murder, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Incantation, Sigh, Satan, Hate Eternal & Anacrusis among others.

What inspires you? As the imagery looks a lot like they are inspired by old school paintings in churches and cathedrals (though much darker in mood and theme)
The neo-classical influence is probably because of Terry Gilliam of Monty Python.

Why did you decide drawing such explicit paintings?
one of my main filters when it comes to ideas is originality. I have a strong visual memory so if I know I’ve seen something similar before, I don’t persue it.

Having that as a main filter creates an effect that makes things gradually harder with time, because once you do it, you dont want to repeat it, so it’s one less direction to go to next time.
It creates a lot of pressure, stress, fear and obstacles, but it’s almost like a “the bigger the risk the bigger the fall but also the possible reward” situation.
Because it forces you to dig deeper, and eliminates easy solutions that might be more mundane. So the ideas get even more original as time progresses because of it.
And the moment you come up with the idea, that’s the moment that gives me joy.
Because unfortunatly, in that moment I see the finished piece in my imagination.
So everything past that point, is an upheld battle to get as closer to that perfect vision as possible.
But making tangible things that will top the version in your imagination is very hard. That’s why people always like the book better than the movie.

When did you start focusing on cover art designs?
Full time? I guess around 2007.
But I started around 2002.

What comes first – the band that needs a cover or an artwork that is than used as cover? Do a lot of bands brief you on what they imagined the cover being?

My work usually devides into 2 types:
1. A collaborative effort, in which I first talk to the musicians, and they tell me what their music is about – I listen to it, go through the lyrics, listen to them talking about creating the music, and then I come up with a story of my own that I feel is a good representation of that.

2. When ideas pop into my head independent of any commissioned project, I put them aside to when I participate in a project that it might fit.

The next steps are the same in both scenarios:
I start off with a rough black and white sketch, show the musicians in order to get a green light on it. Then I flesh out colors and details.

What was the favorite cover that you designed?
If I have to pick one it would probably be ‘Live Ceremony’, that was used by the band Loudblast

What was the favorite cover you did NOT design yourself?
Iron Maiden – Killers
All these years and it still holds up. The impact never wears off it seems.

Who would you love to do an album cover for?
To all of my favorite bands naturally. The ones still active are King Diamond & Mercyful Fate, Voivod, Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Metallica etc.

How long does the process usually take to get an idea?
It varies very much. Luckily I get booked in advance so I have some time to think about the concept before the time comes to start painting.

What information do you need about an album to design a matching cover?
At least one of these: the music, the lyrics, the album title.

What would you never design for someone? Where is your limit?
A lot of things actually, since because of time constraints I can only accept a minor portion of the offers I get, so the concept is a big filter.
Everything from ideas I know I’ve seen a million times before, to political stands I dont want to be forced into being associated with.
None of my work is preaching anyone to take up my political views, and that’s because while I do have political positions on many topics, I find them less interesting and original than the stories I came up with.
While I might one day come up with political ideas I think would be worth sharing, anything I can tell you about politics so far, you’ve probably heard before.
So it will do nothing but please the already agreeing side, and not convince the other side. There is enough of that.

Vielen Dank an Elliran Kantor für einen Einblick in die Gestaltung von Album Covern – einen Blick über die musikalische Gestaltung hinaus.

Besucht die Website von Eliran Kantor unter elirankantor.com
Folgt ihm auf Instagram – es lohnt sich wirklich!