When Moonspell announced a Mexican artist and illustrator as the author of the new DVD Lisboa Under The Spell album cover, we were both surprised and excited. The bond between Moonspell and our homeland has come closer with the years, just like Fernando himself tells in forums and interviews related with the forthcoming Moonspell show in the Guadalajara’s International Book Fairy.
We had the huge pleasure of interviewing Néstor Ávalos, the author of the beautiful artwork which decks one of the most anticipated and long waited works of Moonspell (not forgetting the band announced their DVD on the first days of January 2016). Here’s what he told us.
Hello, Néstor! First of all, we want to congratulate you for your work. when we noticed that a Mexican male was in charge for this art cover we were very surprised It was very pleasant that this happened considering the bond between Mexico and Moonspell. Allow me to be honest: You rule!
Thank you very much, guys. [laughs]
Tell us how your contact with Moonspell began, and how did you get your inspiration for the DVD project?
It was quite a surprise, I received a mail from Fernando asking me if I was interested in creating the cover art for the new DVD. I was a little skeptical at the first moment. It was hard to believe the mail was really from him, from a band I’ve been following since I was at secondary school. I had a talk with him later and made sure this whole thing was real. Fernando said in his mail he was following my work and my style was exactly what he was looking for their next release. That’s how we got in touch, I received a mail from him.
Did you already have something in mind? Did Fernando tell you what to paint or did he give you freedom to create whatever you want?
First, we presented each other, and I accepted his offering. Later we start talking in detail about the ideas he wanted to reflect inside the album cover. He had some proposals and he wanted a lunar goddess to be painted. Also, he wanted the figure to present some elements to show a bond with Lisbon. We developed some ideas from there. I presented a few sketches and purified them until it became the image they were looking for. It was a very strenuous process, I took like one month and a half, maybe two. During that time, I slept just a few hours per night, sending previews at 1 or 3 am just to wake up a few hours later and get ready for my job. You know… I have a regular job and I worked on the cover in my spare time.
Digging in your creation, could you tell us about the details? The colors you chose, for an instance?
I try to show my personal belief inside my art style. Fernando asked me to preserve certain esthetics according to Moonspell. Obviously, I had to follow a line according to the band and their crowd. I tried to stay tuned with Moonspell, with their style. I made my best effort to create a figure to represent a blend between the sacred and profane. Each European city has their own female saints, virgins… I tried to make a mixture between a holy virgin and a female gipsy with a demonic sparkle. I took the byzantine art because the Sacred images are very important to me. I believe my first approaching to esthetic and artistic matters were those sacred expressions. The colors were taken from the byzantine art, for sure. And how it’s a blend between a virgin and a pagan entity, the hand position it’s a blessing symbol.
Yeah, that image reminded me immediately the kind of art you can appreciate inside the orthodox churches. Actually, the image seems to have a setoff effect. We love it!
Exactly. That’s the core, the colors came out from that art style. The texture management was intended to obtain an old-world mystical appearance, just like the byzantine paintings. In fact, the image composition is alike to an altar, it’s a bowing-deserve figure. The seals in the superior corners are elements I took to set the relationship with Lisbon. The crow figure is taken alive because it’s a totemic symbol which represents the mystical. Crows are messengers from the underworld that bring light from the darkness. They move through the dimensions of the living and the dead. Sometimes they do the reversal way. The Moon as an element is here either, I use the triangles to express the holy trinity. I tried to emphasize the lunar goddess figure, the Moon is viewed as a feminine symbol after all. To support the management of the pagan / blasphemous concepts, I decided to add a crown of thorns. Far beyond the catholic meanings, I relate the crown with the experience of constant suffering. I did my best to link these elements with the destruction phase of Lisbon, as you can behold the burning city inside the circle.
Is that a real building or one from Lisbon, or is just a product of your creativity?
No. One of my first artwork proposals included a building from Lisbon and Fernando said that same building appeared in their last album (1755) So, I had to delete to avoid being repetitive. I used an abstract image to represent Destruction.
I see. Tell us about your professional credentials.
I’m a graphic designer graduated from the Universidad de León, campus Irapuato. Regarding to arts, I’m a self-taught person. I took some paint, drawing and digital art courses in order to transform my art into a real profession, but being frank, I’m an autodidact.
What’s your favorite art movement? Do you have a favorite illustrator? Maybe a painter? Seth Siro left his print in Moonspell history. We hope this is not the last time the band turns to you.
My classic references are Francisco de Goya, during the “black paintings” phase. Goya is my favorite because the obscure topic, the Sabbaths, Saturn devouring his son… That art is beautifully monstrous. I like Gustav Dore, Cavaraggio, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo. I love José Clemente Orozco. David Herreira is another mexican artist I like, he’s living now in Sweden. I’m in love with H. R. Giger because he created tons of demonic figures. I’m into all this new movement inside the dark art, this new wave of Satanist and obscure themed artists. I’m a big fan of artists like Giovanni Andrea Maglioli, Albrecht Durer, Austin Osman Spare, Sergio Bustamante, Manuel Tinnemans, Mitchell Nolte, Samuel Araya, Alejandro Montes, Emil Melmoth, Carlos Aguilar (Black Shadow), Robert W. Cook (Norot), Denis Forkas Kostromitin, Worthless Endeavors, Ars Moriende, José Gabriel Alegría Sabogal, Lupe Vasconcelos, Diabolus Rex, Santiago Caruso, Karmazid, Death Dust, Daniel Valeriani, etc.
Now that you mentioned it, Seth is one of my favorite artists ever! He’s in my top since my college days and I was lucky enough to trade some messages with him, it was really satisfying. When I accepted to do this cover for Moonspell I felt a huge challenge, racing with one of my idols in the artistic media.
I believe you! Seth is one of the big names in the artwork creation inside the metal world. He has worked with Exodus, Paradise Lost, Flowing Tears, Belphegor, Kamelot and many other bands. What other bands signed you to create artworks and or layouts?
I created designs for Rotting Christ, Bloodbath, Dark Funeral, Necrophobic, Hecate Enthroned, Varathron, Manticore, Blut Aus Nord, Insanity Reigns Supreme, Negator, Worstenemy, The Black Dahlia Murder, Vital Remains, Churchburn, Infernal Curse, Autokrator, Kaoteon, Cabrio, Total Death, Atrexial, Hacavitz, A.M.S.G., Soulburner, Darktimes, Execrator, Endless Struggle, Blight, Nocturne, Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni, Proditor Bicorni y Black Hate.
Please, tell us your top 3 Moonspell albums.
Irreligious, Darkness and Hope y The Antidote. That last one is my favorite. Speaking about specific songs: Darkness and Hope, Devilred, Nocturna, I love Mephisto very much. … Beside those albums, there is Abysmo from Sin / Pecado. Another song I can mention A walk on a Darkside. I love that walking inside the darkness representation…
Luke, I am you father! Aggggh! [laughs]
Luke, I am your father! Arggggh! [risas]
Néstor, we would like to thank you a lot for the interview. We hope to have a chance to see you again and share a couple of beers!
I hope the same, that would be my pleasure. Thanks to you, guys. And greetings to all the Moonspell Street Team Mexico crew.