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Leo Espinosa
November 2011
Illo in the Times of Metal
posted:
The follow up of an album I illustrated more than two decades ago (when I used to eat heavy metal and punk rock for breakfast, lunch and dinner) came out this year with a cover I feel very proud of.
The Colombian metal band, Darkness, wanted to put together a compilation of unreleased old tracks and some new material under the title, Guerrofobia (aversion to war), and asked me if I would consider reinterpreting the concept of their first album for this new one they were working on. The teenager in me immediately agreed to the challenge and clung to the first image that came to mind: A monster of war, sadness, hate and despair; A monster of multiple heads, strong body and many tangled, slimy and menacing tentacles.
The heads symbolize some of the characters and forces responsible for the present state of our world: the media, the one percent, the empires, the puppet politicians, terrorism, the military and paramilitary, the abuse of natural resources, the extreme left and the extreme right, big brother, organized religion, pedophilia and child abuse, torture, the business of guns and drugs, racism, hate for the sake of hate... the list is endless and sadly I had to chop some important heads off, in order to keep a clean design and meet my deadline.
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After doing just a rough pencil sketch I switched to the computer. I wanted to tied this monster and the typography with the same bold and industrial look from the head start and I wasn't going to get that by doing pencil drawings of all the characters. I really didn't want to allow myself to go into complex expressions and intricate renderings of shadows and textures.
Looking for reference of war and reading about daily atrocities for about a month, got my blood boiling. The sense of frustration mixed with constant heavy music was starting to mess me up... the art was going in the right direction, though, and that's all that mattered.
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Because I was also playing the role of the designer I got the chance to work closely with the printer, which I wish I could do that more often. Collaboration triggers more ideas, right? For instance, he suggested blocking some areas and throwing a varnish only over certain sections of the illustrations. That simple addition gave a nice dimensionality to the art and made the whole packaging more especial.
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When I first created this iconic face that later duplicated on all the characters, I thought it could work well printed large on the CD itself, combined also with large type that would ran across the inside spread. This face is perhaps my favorite illo of the whole project.
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Here's is the final result being held by a Colombian soldier outside the Presidential Palace. I can't get over the irony of this image sent to me by the lead singer, Rodrigo Vargas, right after the cover was printed.
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And last but not least, the first album I did for Darkness in the late 80s using cut paper and cheap markers (I must have been 18 and in the middle of art school).
The producer "Dr. Rock" suggested that I should illustrate a buch of national and international figures that were the news back then, such as the drug lord on the bottom left corner and the stars of the Cold War towards the center.
For some reason this cover became huge and it's still being featured in exhibitions, articles and publications about the history of rock in Colombia. Hopefully the one I did this year could have a similar destiny.
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Design in the New Economy
posted:
Yes, this is about design but since it was done by a designer slash cartoonist slash illustrator slash animator slash teacher, I thought it would be a good idea to post it here.
The creator is Juana Medina, a graduate and ex faculty from RISD, with tons of talent, tons of brains and a witty sense of humor. This won't be the last time I post about her -I warn you, people!-

click here to view Juana's response to the Pink Line Project
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Kamen Rider Vs Super Sentai Exhibit
posted:
"We're Super Sorry!" is the tittle of my contribution to the Kamen Rider Vs Super Sentai Exhibit at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Los Angeles.
The show features the work of Kevin Dart, Ben Newman, Yoko Nomura, Naoshi, Amelie Flechais, Aya Kakeda, Pakoto and many more artists I truly admire.
As someone who grew up drawing Kamen Rider and Ultraman, this is a real treat! Thank you Q Pop Gallery for the invitation

Kamen Rider Vs Super Sentai will be up until November 13, so if you are in LA, don't miss it!
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