There is no shortage of artists peddling their wares in underground circles. Most tacitly follow a black and white template, rehashing themes and content that has appeared manifold times before them. It is rare to come across someone like Anthony Roberts, whose work humbly acknowledges these traditions without blindly remaking them. This Oklahoma based visual artist operates under the Black Mind’s Eye handle. His work has consistently graced the ritual cloth of LURKER favourite Urfaust and continues to make waves for lesser known underground acts like Conan and Forteresse. His portfolio includes work for Unearthly Trance, Cathedral, Electric Wizard and Graves at Sea. His unique style couples a vast array of techniques to deliver something immediately identifiable as both his own and representative of a band’s aesthetic. It boggles the mind to think of how talented this gentlemen is and how little he gets in way of attention from the hordes of extreme metal. Take some time, rest a while, get acquainted with both the man and his work.
What new projects are you working on?
I’m just finishing up a poster for Conan’s spring European tour. After that it’s onward to their next lp for Burning World Records. I’ve got other pieces lined up for Earthride and Slomatics early this year.
Looking back on my Urfaust shirt collection, they all seem to feature work by yourself. How did you get to working with Urfaust and what is it you think that keeps you working with the band?
First, I should mention that I don’t do all the shirts for Urfaust. I started working with them in 2009, I think. The band posted a request on myspace for shirt designs, so I got in touch. At the time but was doing more psych/headshop style art so I didn’t really expect much to come of it. I was a big fan of Urfaust’s “Verräterischer, Nichtswürdiger Geist” record, though, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to reply. They responed favorably, instead of a shirt I ended up doing the art and design for their “Der Einsiedler” release. Over time I’ve developed a friendly relationship with Urfaust. We share tastes and interests and know what to expect from one another.
Lets talk influence. Your work is really rather unique when I think about the kernel of artists supporting the underground metal circuit at the moment. Is there any visual artist you draw heavily from? Is there anyone currently operating in similar circles that you appreciate?
I try hard not to draw too heavily or directly from any one artist. Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein’s Danse Macabre are endlessly educational. I admire the work of Moebius, Aubrey Beardsley, Harry Clarke, Rick Griffin, Waymouth/English (Hapshash and the Coloured Coat), Pushead, Ernst Fuchs, tons more…I could make a tedious list but I won’t. There are some maniacs working out there currently: Simon Fowler, Thomas Hooper, James White, Justin Bartlett to name a few….
You’ve done a lot of work for Urfaust, Forteresse, Conan, and others. Do you try to do work expressly for artists you enjoy? Is there anyone you would love to work with?
It’s not at all a requirement. I had never heard of Conan or Forteresse until I did pieces for them and now I love both bands. In a lot of ways it’s easier for me to work with someone unknown to me, I tend to be less compulsive and I’m not influenced (or intimidated!) by an artist’s existing aesthetic. On the other hand, working for a band I enjoy is really rewarding, I feel fortunate to have been able to work with some amazing acts. Artists I’d like to work with but would give me an obsessive disorder: Portal, Dispirit, Vasaeleth, Sunn0))), High on Fire/Sleep/Om, etc.
Have you ever considered doing prints or stand alone t-shirts for some of your work? The huge poster accompanying the recent Urfaust full length looks sublime and I can’t help but wonder how other pieces of your work would look on other mediums.
Thanks, that poster was way over the top. I only wish that version was not so limited. I have considered the possibility of doing stand alone shirts and prints, I like the idea but the problem is what to do with them once they’re printed! I am not a skilled marketer. I’m afraid I’d end up stuck with 50 black shirts with a picture of a demon barfing on front.
Favourite piece of art you’ve done?
I generally focus on the flaws, so I hate all of them! Ha! Really though, there are pieces I’m happy with but I wouldn’t say I have a favorite.
Does your need to create take form in other kinds of artistic endeavour? Any musical projects or the like?
I’ve played guitar for ages and have been in bands in the past. When I can, I make sound collage/psychedelic murk as Reclusis, I also do heavy slow motion jams from time to time with friends, nowhere near as much as I’d like though.
– Any links/information/quotes you want to share?
Anyone who’s interested in working with me on a project or commission can get in touch via email. My contact info and archive of work can be found at http://www.blackmindseye.org/. I’d like to thank you for your interest and questions!
Tony Robert’s portfolio, website and contact details can be found here.
His work for Urfaust is available directly from the band at live performances and through their Big Cartel site.
The Forteresse t-shirt design is available from Sepulchral Productions.
The Conan & Slomatics split can be purchased from Head of Crom (12 inch) and Burning World (CD).