For many years Nick Micho had two clear passions: heavy music and visual arts. Eventually, he decided to merge them. The result of that enterprise is, currently, one of the most enjoyable visual projects in the underground scene. The Canadian artist draws his own renditions of bands he likes, but in a very distinctive way.
Most of his images look almost child-like, but keep great attention to detail. In addition, they’re rich in detail, utterly imaginative, and (in some cases) even posses postmodern attributes. Given the subject matter, it’s easy to understand why he named the project “Headbangers, Babes & Blood.” Since Micho is about to exhibit his work at different public spots in Quebec, we decided to briefly interviewing him about his art project, which online sales are constantly growing. Let’s see what he had to say.
How did you get interested in visual arts?
Micho: In my childhood, I was a young boy with a lot of imagination. I loved playing with action figures of He-Man and Ninja Turtles. But I didn’t own enough monsters to the scenarios I had imagined. So I created my own monsters on paper. This is where it all began. Later my creativity shifted to comic books.
Did you ever have any formal training?
Micho: I have a degree in 2D conventional animation and graphic design.
How did you came up with the idea of doing these personal renditions of Metal musicians and bands? At what point did you decide to do it commercially?
Micho: Did you ever had the feeling that buying an album it’s not enough to be thankful for a band that gives you so much good music? For me, it’s a way to honor them because Heavy Metal truly deserves it. When I graduated in graphic design, in 2007, I worked the scenario of a graphic novel called Blackrose Saga. At this time, my drawing skills were not yet sufficient to produce a professional product. I decided to have another project that would help me reach that level. I decided to merge my art with other element I usually draw inspiration from, Heavy Metal. 2008, ‘Headbangers, Babes & Blood’ was born.
On most of your works you try to capture the bands/musicians through scenes that somehow reflect the nature of their music, lyrics and overall image. That’s the real genius behind these illustrations as it showcases an important part of your style and imagination. What’s your opinion about this?
Micho: You know, the first time I listened Heavy Metal it’s when I was 9 years old and a friend give me a tape of Iron Maiden – ‘Powerslave.’ Since that time my soul and Heavy Metal became one. That’s why we will always see a part of Heavy Metal universe in all my art, even in non-HB&B work. “Blackrose Saga,” my graphic novel, is an epic saga that will contain many reference and name from Heavy Metal. You will never see a copy of a picture in my illustration. Anyway there’s many good artists who have done this before.
Do you follow any particular criteria to choose which artists and bands are you going to paint or you just paint artists that you enjoy listening to?
Micho: I don’t interpret an artist or a band if I don’t have a good inspiration about the them. If I don’t have a good mindset around it or a global idea it would be a pretty low quality illustration. Sometimes the idea comes while I listening the band, go to a concert or just do a basic thing like driving my car.
For example, take a band like Amon Amarth. Many people asked me why they are not already in the ‘Headbangers, Babes & Blood’ family? My answer is that this is a band I really like although I haven’t had inspiration yet, hopefully it will come soon enough.
Is there any specific media or technique you use or prefer using to paint these images?
Micho: While creating my first graphic novel, I used old school mediums like watercolor, acrylic, prismalor pencil and I finished with Photoshop. But now, with “Blackrose Saga” on the way, I just work with Photoshop and I save more than half of the time usually required to make an illustration.
You usually sell these images imprinted on actual metal plates. This is really fitting given the subject matter. Can you describe the process of transferring your images from paper to metal?
Micho: It’s called sublimation. The illustration is printed on a special printer, after that I place the sheet and the metal plate in a machine that heats and flattened them. After a minute of pressing and heat the print on the paper immersed himself in the metal plate.
You are exhibiting some of this works on public spaces in Canada. Can you tell me more about this. Is there any new exhibit coming soon?
Micho: I exhibit my art in many bars, and microbreweries. In the province of Quebec, that really common to see the work of different artists on bar’s walls. There is two exhibitions coming in Quebec city at the microbrewery La Barberie and at the bar La Ninkasi. Also, I talked with the crew of the 70 000 Tons of Metal to prepare another exhibition on the boat. Nothing confirmed, but still working on it.
Are there any plans to keep expanding this project? What are the next renditions you’re planning to paint?
Micho: I will continue to exhibit in bars across the country and start to contact Rock festivals. I think festivals should add more visual aspect in their events. I can give you a clue for the upcoming interpretation: legendary thrash metal band that kills a lot! And something else, in 2015 I will start the biggest composition of interpretations, a composition of six illustrations of Iron Maiden.
Have you ever contact any of the bands you’ve painted? If yes, how was it their reaction to your drawings?
Micho: Strangely, not that much. Maybe someday I should take some time to contact them. But one day I met the band Rhapsody of Fire and I gave them the two illustrations than I made of the band. They were very happy!
Next Time on AJFA: A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2014… so far (Part 4) – Featuring Judas Priest, Unearth, Polyptych, While Heaven Wept, Demonic Resurrection
Previously on AJFA: …And Justice For Art: A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2014… so far (Part 3) – Featuring Septic Flesh, Origin, Gormathon, Obituary, Schammasch