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06/2005     Jens Pohl    Kris Vervimp

Hi Kris! To be honest, I was never really aware of your name before ... but one day, when I was rummaging my CD collection I recognized that I actually own quite a lot of albums with your cover design and artwork ... so just in general, how and when did you start drawing and do you still remember the very first album cover you've done?

Actually I guess I've been drawing ever since I was able to hold a pencil ... I started creating my own comic books in my early teens and I started drawing my Odoric stories at age 14. I learned a lot from that! The stories were mainly inspired by movies such as "Conan The Barbarian". In fact, that movie was the reason why I wanted to create my own comics ... in 1993, when I was looking for a publisher for my first Odoric comic book in full colour, I was asked to create a cover artwork for Ancient Rites' "The Diabolic Serenades". A little while after the release of that album, I received a phone call from Osmose Productions with the request to create artworks for MARDUK and ABSU ... that's mainly how it all started!

Looking back in time, reflecting your career as an artist ... are you still satisfied with every artwork you've done so far or do you think some artworks could have been done completely different today?

Well, my problem is that I'm never really satisfied with my own work. I'm my own biggest critic I guess ... I always try to make each new artwork better than the previous one. It can be really frustrating if things don't work out the way I intended. There are still many compositions that I would like to paint or do differently. But I also think this attitude is necessary to keep evolving as an artist ... I think when you're 100 % satisfied, it can only go downward from that point on.

Up to now you have done cover artworks mostly for Black-, Death- and Thrash Metal bands. Do you personally prefer these musical directions or what is special and fascinating about designing cover artworks especially for this kind of music?

Well, I guess I did so many Black Metal covers because that's the musical style that I started doing covers for in the beginning, back in 1993. At that time I mainly listened to more traditional '80's Heavy Metal, but also to bands like BATHORY, MERCYFUL FATE or CANDLEMASS to name a few. At first I started listening to Black Metal because I had to design the covers, but I quickly started to enjoy this musical style a lot. Personally I prefer the epic style Black Metal (such as FALKENBACH, SUMMONING, WINDIR, etc. ... ) or the Viking / Folk / Pagan stuff (such as MENHIR, MOONSORROW, HIMINBJORG, etc. ... ). I never listened a lot to Death Metal really, but I do respect the musical style and I own CD's from bands like MORBID ANGEL, NILE, MALEVOLENT CREATION and such. But I just don't listen to it that often. I like Thrash Metal a lot, but I don't play it too often either ... when I'm painting or drawing I always listen to the music of the bands that I'm working for to get into the right mood. I also enjoy listening to movie soundtracks while painting ... (soundtracks from "The 13th Warrior" or "König Der Letzten Tage" are killer!) Needless to say that I own a very large collection of music! What's fascinating about drawing covers for these musical styles is that I have the opportunity to do many different concepts and compositions entirely from my imagination. When you look at my artworks, you'll notice that I never draw anything from the modern age. No cars or modern buildings, no modern clothes and such ... it all comes from the mind. Every artwork is a new challenge to create something that hasn't been done before ...

Some time ago I read that you never sell your original drawings ... why?

Yes, that's right. I only sell the rights to use them. I never created my artworks with the intention to sell the originals. I always devote a lot of time and work to each painting. In most cases I also like the bands that I'm working for very much, so it's great to still have the original cover art. There's also a personal connection with each painting ... I find it difficult to sell my works and not be able to look at the originals whenever I want to. I'm not at all into the world of "artists" who do many expositions and want to sell their original art to the highest bidder. I believe that true art can never be about money in the first place. Personally I always think about the music when I'm painting. I don't think money can be the inspiration ... I don't rely on my work as an artist to earn a living. I have a daily job that provides me with a steady income ... I hope this all makes sense? It's not easy to explain in a few words ...

About almost one year ago, when we first got in contact because of the artwork for the tribute to RUNNING WILD, you told me that you're a fan, both of the music by RUNNING WILD as well as of the artworks by Andreas Marschall. Since when do you listen to RUNNING WILD and which album do you like the most and why?

I started listening to RUNNING WILD when "Death Or Glory" was released. I enjoyed that album so much that I bought all the older albums and every new album from that time on. It's not easy to name the album that I like the most ... I like many songs from various albums. I'm a big fan of the epic songs or high concept songs ... you know, stuff like "Treasure Island" or "The Phantom Of Black Hand Hill". But I also like songs such as "Victory" or "Riding The Storm" a lot. It's great when there's a story in the song because I think it's inspiring to listen to... I also like to imagine things when I'm listening to music, and RUNNING WILD does that for me! Also, the artworks from Marschall are always very inspiring and it's great to see the songs brought to life on the cover art with lots of details.

What's your favorite artwork done by Andreas Marschall for RUNNING WILD and in general? Have you ever met Andreas somewhere?

I actually like many of his artworks ... difficult to make a choice. I like the Rivalry cover a lot, but also the cover and booklet artwork of "Pile Of Skulls" is really great! And in general, I think his VENOM tribute cover was also very good and I also like his covers for BLIND GUARDIAN a lot! He always adds lots of details and creates elaborate backgrounds ... unfortunately I've never met him in person ... I guess artists don't get out much.

This tribute album is something very special, done completely from fans for fans. It started back in June 2001 already and we all walked a long way since then ... In my opinion the front-cover you've worked out is totally amazing, very detailed and expresses everyone's ambition in this case. As an artist, do you think that it is important to have some kind of a relationship to something to keep the spirit alive and to create something by heart or do you think any skilled artist is able to create something like this as long as the payment's okay?

I'm glad that you like the cover so much. I've tried to do the best possible job I could because I know how long people have been waiting for it. It's a tribute album, so I wanted the cover to be a tribute as well to all the great RUNNING WILD cover artworks. I started examining all the details on the various covers and tried to use them in my own composition. I wanted this cover to go on where Andreas Marschall had stopped (with "The Rivalry" if I'm correct ... ). I don't claim that my artwork is as good as his, because his covers are incredibly detailed and painted very well ... I'm really amazed by his work and it's a real inspiration for me! I believe he's one of the greatest cover artists in Metal ... his works truly come from the heart I think. In my opinion it's necessary to have a special interest in the band or concept that you're working for. Personally I always try to get totally into the job by listening to the music or reading lyrics ... I also do a lot of research! Sure, any good artist will be able to create the image of a pirate and a chest filled with treasure. But if you don't know the songs or if you don't know anything about Adrian or all the details from previous covers, I guess it just wouldn't have the RUNNING WILD atmosphere. I can only hope that I succeeded in that myself of course ...

A lot of people told me that this artwork looks totally different than anything you've done before, more lively and colorful ... please tell us something about the front-cover. What's the main idea and inspiration behind it and why have you chosen especially these colors? How long did it take to draw this cover and what's the size of the original drawing?

I'm not really sure how long it took to paint the cover, because I never watch the time while I'm painting. I worked on it whenever I was inspired over a period of more than a month. The size is 40 cm x 40 cm and it was painted in acrylics on paper. I used mainly conventional brushes, but there's also a little airbrush in it. The reason why I used different colours than usual is simply because I wanted to do the artwork in the vein of the Andreas Marschall covers. He always seemed to use many yellow colours and brighter colours in general. My own artworks are usually very dark because I've mainly been doing Black Metal stuff. I haven't done too many Heavy Metal covers ... the few ones that I did aren't very well known. My main idea was to create a cover that would combine details from various RUNNING WILD covers into a new composition. It had to be totally in the typical RUNNING WILD atmosphere, so I did my best to get everything right. I wanted to make Adrian the main figure, which was a challenge because we don't see Adrian as a person too often. Usually it's just the head, so I had to imagine the clothes and all. I watched the costumes that Rolf wears on the album pictures to get the right feeling for that. In general, I just wanted to create a tribute to all the RUNNING WILD covers.

You are still in the process of creating the back-cover ... I saw a rough sketch of it already and it looks much darker than the front. In fact it's kind of a totally different concept here with a different mood ... please describe what it will look like, what's the inspiration of it and why you have chosen darker colors here.

I chose darker colours because I wanted a little contrast with the front. I wanted the back to be a landscape view because that was the best way to do typical RUNNING WILD things that I couldn't do on the front cover. I used ideas from various RUNNING WILD albums to create a new composition, just like I did with the front cover. The main idea is a view of Tortuga Bay by night, and a few other things such as the Black Chest Inn and all ... just wait and see!

OK, many thanks, Kris. We're all looking forward now to see the back-cover and the final release of the album. / Copyright © 1996-2013 by Running Wild / Design:
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