It’s not often we tear our attention away from bands and take the opportunity to talk to other members of the music industry. There are loads of them and we really do need to appreciate how important they are. Many thanks to artist Damian Augustyniak of Guzikart for reaching out and giving us the chance to ask a little about what it’s like to create pieces for heavy metal bands. You may well recognise some of his work from t-shirts you’ve seen around. He’s created some great ones for in-house favourites Sabaton, Burning The Dream, Psychostick (including the Cookie Monster one I own and love) and many more.
I live in a small village in Poland, this place works for me better than crowded cities. Because it is lovely in summer, nostalgic and dark during winter.
When did you decide that a career in artwork was for you? How and when did you learn your craft?
As far as I remember I have always been drawing. As a child I was interested in doodling the characters from TV shows and cartoons. It was my huge passion! I remember exactly when I told my relatives many times that I gonna to be an illustrator. Later, I was interested in drawing cartoons for TV.
What materials or techniques do you use?
Honestly, I think that I am hugely ignorant in this field. I used acrylic paint once, pastels only a few times and that’s it. I always worked with a simple pencil and piece of paper. It’s very comfortable for me and I love it. When we are talking about digital work I am using my Wacom Cintiq 21” for everything I do right now. It’s mostly pencil sketch, ink and simple colouring for screen printing or more complex for DTG.
How would you describe your style?
It’s American rock/metal scene artworks type. Sometimes you can see some inspiration from the skateboarding community as well. It was very generic, at the beginning of my career to be honest, but right now I work hard to develop my own style into today’s bands merch. Right now I am working on mixing streetwear with dark vibe for bands merchandise. It’s very important to experiment and develop your style, people choose different apparel to wear than 10 years ago when I started.
How did you get started doing work for heavy metal bands?
I worked in a boring and exhausting 9 to 5 job. It was terrible. During this time I saw that facebook exploded with artists who have been working on t-shirt designs for metalcore, deathcore and hardcore bands. I loved this style so much that I decided to draw similar stuff for local bands for free. The crucial moment was when a band decided to pay me anyways, even if I didn’t want the money for the work. Calculations were clear, I don’t need to work in my job anymore, I can focus on drawings because few artworks monthly allowed me to have the same salary.
Facebook was very different back then, I could send many questions to the bands and ask them about their merch needs. I know it’s called spam, but they were always very friendly even if they needed to refuse me! From this moment it was a snowball effect. Most of my band clients are from recommendations, not adverts or spam.
I have played drums for 15 years now. It made a huge impact on my life, probably doing artworks for bands was affected by this too. I played deathcore, rock, pop, metalcore, death metal, black metal… Right now I am in power metal band – Gutter Sirens from Poland. Currently I’m more into learning piano and composing than playing drums.
How do you set about doing a piece of work for a band? Do they come to you with ideas, or a piece of music, or a theme, or…?
It’s very different, there are generally 2 types of bands: the ones that have very specific vision, even with colours(!), and bands that rely on me. They send music and lyrics. To be honest that’s all I need.
I prefer more creative freedom, like every artist probably. The best designs I have done so far are for bands which decided to go with my vision or send me a very rough idea of what they need. Also, in such cases, the work is much faster and satisfying for both sides.
Have you ever had a piece that you liked remain unused?
I don’t have such pieces, mostly because I do custom artworks for bands, I don’t do pre-made designs and look for a home for them. I’ve always wanted to do that but I have so many requests for designs that I am always short of time to do so. Maybe in the future… I would love to make some acrylic paintings for my private collection, not for sale.
A difficult question, but do you have a favourite piece of your own artwork? If so, why is it your favourite?
My favourites are some first designs I did for bands in very colorful, detailed metalcore style. Not too technical or pretty but I love them because they pushed my career and made me the artist I am now.
Besides that I am very satisfied with Sabaton’s artworks. Those guys always give me creative freedom. It’s a pleasure to work with them and they are big. Working for them is an honour and nice achievement for an artist.
Is there an album cover or t-shirt design by another artist that you particularly like – or wish you’d done?
First few designs for deathcore bands done by Grindesign. I love the way he did compositions, dark colours and gore accents. Godmachine posters and band t-shirts are something I always loved, especially the way he draws skulls and bones, His compositions are spectacular too.
About album covers: Ed Repka covers are quite unique and inspirational.
I would love to work for Metallica or System of a Down because of the creative approach I could use there. Aborted would be awesome, gore/horror stuff they use on their t-shirts are really sick, would love to design something for them.
And right now maybe some polish electro/rock/pop bands of which I am a huge fan lately.
How does it feel if you see someone walking past in a t-shirt you did the art for? Do you ever want to stop them and say “I did that!”?
The city located near me, Bydgoszcz, has a pub which sells t-shirts with my artworks. During the summer I saw my artworks on metalheads many times, and yes, I really want to say, “Hi, that’s my artwork!”
I love to be on Polish Woodstock because of it, I can see many people with my t-shirts there.
What’s the best way for a band to get in touch with you if they would like some work done?
Thank you and see you guys on social media!