The connection between visual and auditory art seems natural to graphic artist David V. D’Andrea, who notes KISS album artist Ken Kelley, Metallica’s merchandise designer Pushead, and Dischord Records founder and designer Jeff Nelson as fundamental influences. “The artists I looked up to when I was young were all music based,” he says. “Early on I saw the music and visuals as one in the same.”
Since the early 1990s, D’Andrea has gradually become a staple in the West Coast music scene. Growing up, D’Andrea produced zines and fliers – generally in the DIY fashion of Xeroxing – for a variety of underground bands in the Oakland, California area. By the mid-’90s, the artist’s work began to receive well-deserved attention: D’Andrea soon had a commission for an album cover.
These days, D’Andrea appreciates music from the 1960-’70s progressive-rock era, as well as current psych and “heavy” music – which is where his vivid illustrations are utilized most often. However, D’Andrea is adamant about mentioning his opposition towards genre and music classification in general.
“I simply try to align myself with bands and artists who aren’t stuck in a genre – either physically or mentally,” he says. “Over the past few years, I’ve been extremely fortunate in this respect.” D’Andrea has recently produced commissioned work for artists as varied as Queens of the Stone Age, Mogwai, Swans, and OM, and even a poster for director Lars Von Trier’s genre-defining film Antichrist. Additionally, he has designed album artwork for Ulver, Witchcraft, and Wino, among others.
D’Andrea’s poster and album art are successful examples of the artist’s punctuated and mature style. The pieces – in terms of both layout and content – firmly hold their ground. His artwork is dark yet organic, heavy yet fantastic. His images weave together rich hues, dark tones, and exceptionally complex textures and details.
Moreover, the artwork is full of gothic undertones and surreal surroundings that create an ethereal quality within the imagery. The viewer is placed in a luscious, fantastical world – one that is endlessly dark and delicate. D’Andrea creates eerie scenes filled with stoic human figures, disillusioned faces, nature, and death. Depictions of trees, blossoming flowers, and tombstones are omnipresent, as are D’Andrea’s unusual textures – often reminiscent of reptile scales and bird feathers.
In the past, D’Andrea has worked closely with friend and artist Matt Parrillo, who founded the independent record label Life is Abuse and the printmaking studio Monolith Press – two projects with which D’Andrea was frequently involved. Although he recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, D’Andrea continues to produce work for both the Portland and Bay areas. His current endeavors include commissions for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, OM, and Agalloch, a collection of posters for the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland during April of 2011, and artwork for an upcoming gallery opening December 2 in San Francisco.
In the midst of all his projects, D’Andrea also hopes to find time to experiment with various printmaking techniques, beyond the screen-printing with which he is most familiar. For the indefinite future, however, D’Andrea’s schedule is crazy with assorted deadlines – but he’s not complaining.
“I truly believe in the notion that ‘anything goes’ in illustration,” he says. “I want to look back on my body of work as something that has evolved and changed through time. This means that I need to remain open to borrowed images, found scraps, photography – absolutely anything and everything.”