Illustrator Creates ‘Monsters of Rock’ Series Featuring Axl Rose and Others
Browsing the Internet yesterday, Noisecreep came across a visually striking piece of artwork featuring Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose depicted as some kind of nightmarish beast (probably not too far from his ex-bandmates think of him). Anyway, we did some digging and found out the Axl piece was created by Canadian commercial artist Jason Edmiston as part of his new Monsters of Rock series.
The 16-year-veteran usually works in the advertising, packaging, and editorial arenas, but recently jumped into the apparel design and gallery work arenas. Edmiston's Monsters of Rock series also features AC/DC's Angus Young, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, and other rock, metal and punk icons. The complete series can currently be seen at the Photo Booth Gallery in Long Beach, Calif. as part of an exhibition that runs till May 8.
Noisecreep chatted with Edmiston to find out more about his Monsters of Rock pieces and the new exhibit.
How did you come up with the idea for the Monsters of Rock series?
I had a great old press photo of Tommy Lee from the Eighties, and wanted to do something with it for a long time. A gallery show came up with Basil Wolverton style crazy monsters, so I thought I'd mash up my favorite hair metal heroes with his style of ugly creatures. I started out with Tommy, Joey Ramone, and Axl Rose. I later expanded the series to six, and have plans for many more.
Did you grow up in the '80s, listening to hard rock and metal?
I sure did. A teenager in the '80s, I watched a lot of music videos for Ozzy, Crue, KISS and Guns N' Roses. I'm a big fan of the glam and punk rockers, and love the mix of showmanship and larger than life lyrics.
How did you narrow down the list of rock icons you wanted to paint for this series?
I chose my favorites, but they also had to be recognizable by their hair, or tattoos, or costumes. Some are more suitable than others from the similar era.
Can you break down the inspiration behind the Axl Rose, Tommy Lee and Dee Snider, each?
Well, Axl is one of my favorites. Talk about a born alpha frontman. I love his dirty Hollywood style, with bandana, bangles, tattoos and ratty hair. The features that I chose to exaggerate are not specific to him, I just wanted to make it balanced compositionally with the pose.
Tommy was all about the feathered hair and that lone Mighty Mouse tattoo on his shoulder. The background was inspired by the cover to Shout at the Devil. The band's standing in front of some burning wreckage, and I just liked the colors.
Dee is pretty wild looking already, but I wanted him even more aggressive, so I added crab claws and snakeskin, with beady eyes, a bird beak, and sharpened stakes for teeth. The background is inspired by a press photo of Dee where he's walking out of green mist. It fit the mood I was going for.
Did you have any musicians that you wanted to include, but for whatever reason, didn't really translate over to the "monsters" theme?
There are some rockers that I like, but couldn't figure out how to represent. Bruce Dickinson for instance, looks pretty ordinary, except for his Conan the Barbarian hairdo. Maybe an Eddie T-shirt? ...but anyone can be turned into a monster. Maybe a female next. Lita Ford perhaps?
Tell us about the exhibition at Phone Booth Gallery.
Well, it's a three person show Joe King and Ryan Milner and me. Those two guys are better know for apparel graphics, as well as advertising design and illustration. We three are influenced by comics, hard rock, movies, television, tattoo culture, pop art, etc, and it shows in our work. The Phone Booth show features art inspired by these topics, and was a lot of fun to produce.
How can our readers pick up one of these Monsters of Rock prints?
For now, check out the Phone Booth Gallery link. All six rocker prints are available. Thanks!