Travis Smith Interview

Hi Travis,how do you do nowadays?How is the life in these cold winter days?

Things are pretty good, thanks. Very busy at the moment and trying to get a lot of things done and taken care of and hopefully make time for a short break. We’ve had some rain here, but that’s about it. The winter here is not as wintery as I’d like it.

How did you start off working on Cd artworks? How long have you been in the industry?please give brief info about yourself for the ones who are unlucky enough to skip your name accidently? how did you get involved into the CD-cover making business? Was it after Psychotic Waltz “Bleeding” CD cover when bands and labels started to contact you for doing CD covers for them?

That’s pretty much the way it happened, yes. I had done a few drawings for my friends in PW to use on flyers and shirts and such. It came time for their new CD and their usual artist, Mike, was not available if I remember, and I was just then experimenting with the digital method, so we thought it  we might try to do the CD art that way. So I developed the ideas as I was learning. Some mutual friends and people at labels saw it and liked it and it led to a few other jobs.


Have you always been working towards a graphical related career?Have you been expecting to do a job like this?As far as i know you do cd packaging as a Professional full –time job,am i right?

Yes. For the time being. I think doing something like this is the kind of thing I’ve dreamed of in a lot of ways, but I never thought to consider it as a serious possibility until I started discovering certian methods and experience and seeing the way things fell into place. I realized it truly did want to do it, and pursured it the best I could.


When i was first visisted your web-site,I was actually a bit surprised that you listen to a lot of metal… Is it your favorite genre?

Overall, yes. Of course, to me metal includes all different kinds of bands and styles. Everything from Napalm Death to Anathema. I guess I consider a lot of things metal. For me it seems to depend on the frame of mind, or the mood, moreso than what the guitars sound like.


Related with the previous one,do you think is it important to perceive well the musical depiction style of the band before starting to work on its artwork?

Absolutely. After all, the artwork is supposed to represent the artist and that body of work, and tell that particular story. I don’t know if it needs to tell you exactly what the music sounds like, although it is essential to capture the mood and represent the vision, and it can serve to do both. The important thing to me is that it conveys the band’s vision accurately and does it justice.


Do the band’s name for which you will make an artwork effect your way of thinking of an artwork/creating for an artwork?

Not necessarily, but it could depend. Some names are more direct, where others are more open to interpretation, and it can give you a definite point of reference about what you should do. In hearing the name Bloodbath, my first thought wouldn’t to be of love and flowers, for example. HAHA.


Tell me something about the single day for you.Is it your main occupation now? Describe your working day. How much time do you spend by your computer?

Well, i end up spending about 10 hours on a good day at work. My goal is less, but sometimes things take longer than expected and I have to give a little extra time. I usually start the day replying to emails and attending to the loose ends from the previous day. After that I see what’s next  and work on it, also taking care of any other things that come up in the meantime. I handle everything myself, from the coffee, to the art, to the shipping, so I play catch-up a lot.

Sometimes creativity may dwell on the crystal wings of the various inspirations. Don’t you afraid of  when you will do hundreds of CD covers, it will start to get difficult to escape from your style, to explore something different?

That has been an issue that has come up and gone since I began. I’m not so afraid of trapping myself in a style, as I’m always trying to find new ways to keep it interesting. It doesn’t always work, but when it does is makes me feel better about everything. If there is a worry, it is that an idea won’t present itself when I need it, which does happen, but it more often than not comes up in time to save the day so far.


Is the ideology of the band important for you before starting to work on the artwork?Or lets say;before you decide to accept the band’s offer,do you care about their political,ecclesiastical or simply ideological approach?

Not neccessarily, and it might depend on the context, but that issue has never come up. I’m pretty open about a lot of things so I am not easily bothered by anyone’s particular beliefs. I tend to agree or disagree with many things on a lot of different sides. I’m not religious, for example, but I could do those subjects all day long without being bothered. Sometimes they are only used to tell a story. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met anotne who i agree with on every issue politically, as everyone has a different perspective, and it’s never someting that comes up as an issue beforehand. If it’s something that’s addressed in the music, I might or might not share the same  view, but either way, it could be just as inspiring as any other subject. To answer the question directly, I think the only time it could be a problem for me is if someone wanted me to outright promote something I was against. But, again, that’s an issue of context, and that hasn’t been an issue thus far. Tat being said, I do tend to connect (and identify) better with the themes that tell more personal stores, and are more inspired by them.


How would you compare your early CD covers with your current works? In the aspect of technique, in the quality of thought?And,therefore,you think that you are at the top of your career or do you thing there is still much time to reach the peak?

Creatively, I feel a little of each. Looking back, I definitely see that I’ve developed abetter understanding about telling the story, and the methods to adopt to do it. Sometimes what you leave out is just as important as what you put in. I learn something new with every piece i finish. Sometimes i get stuck and I think that I’ve done some of my best ideas already, but at the same time I am always teaching myself new options and the feeling that even better ones will present themselves always gives me hope for the next one. I cannot guess how lthe career will go. There’s a lot of people doing this and you have to make sure you are always your best to keep things fresh and stay relevant and noticed. There are a lot of factors with this that can be draining, and I might get tired someday and just take some time off to refresh, but right now I’m just trying to  do my best job for the people I love working with and have fun visualizing the music.


Related with the magazines,i know you have never worked for magazine artworks before,and thanks to your helpful and kind artist identity,you decide to contribute in the artwork of Frost Magazine .let me thank you here for this majestic help,and i want to add;do you read metal magazines nowadays or do you follow webzies?And,to be honest with you Travis,i hate classic magazine covers which are nothing but eye+brain-destroying images.Frost has always been very careful and estetic in terms of design an the cover as i simply hate disgusting and classic magazine artworks which only sees metal music listeners as a “customers”.I never wanted to make covers and general artworks which are fully stupid and scenic and trendy images.I always wanted to create a ne wthing that has something to do with art,at least something near to the estetic art…So what can you say it as well?

Thank you. That piece was a personal idea I developed. It will probably be the cover for an ep by Trance of Mine, a band I like very much. They agreed i could use it here as well and I think it might look very nice there, and give a different touch for the magazine. Looking forward to the result.I think that with the right design, any magazine would stand out even when using the same elements or structure as another publication. The thing that will catch my eye is how it’s but together. I like good clean layouts with nice typography. Good style using things that compliment eacother.I used to follow lots of publications and read as many as a could. I’m sorry to say I’ve fallen a bit out of the loop a bit and haven’t read very many for awhile. It’s been hard to keep up. I’ve enjoyed many different magazines, but have always tended to favor the more  fanzine style. I think that’s moslty due to some of the contributors and their style of writing just in the things they can say. Sometimes the writer’s character comes out a little more and they have always been a little more ‘fun’. Like bit of humor to compliment the seriousness.


Have you ever thought of making a web-site artwork?Maybe i m mistaken,you already did,but i still wonder ;which kind you would prefer;an art on paper or an online art in website designs etc?

For art, for me, it’s mostly done digitally, even if it starts out on paper, so that way, it’s the same for me as far as producing. But as far as looking at art, or reading, or anything like that, I like to have it printed. On paper or a book that I can hold. Staring at things too long on a screen can irritate me after awhile, and I like to have something I can stretch out with, and take my time with as i relax.


Do you have any favorite CD covers that were done by other artists?(I havent witnessed an artist better than you,though..

As you might expect, i have many. Too many to really name them all. A few classic standouts for me will always include Stabbing Westward – Darkest Days, King Diamond – Abigail, Suffocation – Pierced From within. But really I have many many favorites. I could write them all day, with different reasons why and how they affect me.


Do you have naything to ask me?

Not that I can think of..sorry. :)


A last weird question, a question on a personal note. Do you have any pets?If yes,which breed you like most?(if it is a dog,that is)I know may be it is weird but i found Dobermann’s quite estetic in terms of artwork,a natural artwork ,that is!sometime ago i had had a Jack Russel terrier who is a Slayer and Slipknot fan!

Nice question. Right now I have a cat. And a Lizard. I love cats. I also love dogs. Many different kinds, except poodle and the little jittery ones. I’ve been meaning to get one after i figure out if I will be relocating or not. One consideration is a doberman, actually. I find them beautiful and grew up around them a bit and have always like them. Huskies and malemutes too. My uncle had a husky and i was very attached to it. I also like retrievers and labs and German Shepards. Many different kinds. After i find a place to settle I will look into them and see which i feel the most comfortable about.


Thanks Travis  for your time,Finish this interview quoting the words of a man you admire the most, please! And,thanks a lot for the help for the Frost III.

I always have a good quote. Usually for humorous purposes. But right now I can’t seem to think of one that really means something for me at the moment. Maybe one from Shel Silverstein. “put something silly in the world that hasn’t been there before.”

Thank you!»


Some the Bands That Travis Smith Designed for (Covers,Inlays);

Age of Silence – Anathema – Anti-Depressive Delivery – A Triggering Myth – Axenstar – Beyond The Embrace – Beseech – Bloodbath – Bronx Casket Co. – Charon – CJSS – Cold Hand of Christ – Cold Colours – Control Denied – Cuts You Up – Daylight Dies – Deadsoul Tribe – Death – Death Machine – DeCeMBeR – Demons & Wizards – Destroyed By Anger – Diabolical Masquerade – Draconian – Dragonlord – Fifth Reason – Flotsam and Jetsam – For My Pain – God Forbid – Gordian Knot – HatePlow – Hellion – Iced Earth – CM Identity 6 – CM Identity 7 – Inhuman Visions – Jag Panzer -Katatonia – King Diamond – Lacrimas Profundre – Lilitu – Lux Occulta – Malediction – Malevolent Creation – Mercenary – Monument – Murder My Love – My Darkest Hate -the NATO project -Nevermore – November’s Doom – Novembre – One30edge – Opeth – Overkill – Power Symphony – Prototype – Psychotic Waltz – Redemption -Riverside – Room 63 – Sadus – Shadowdance – SinaiBeach – Skinlab – Society 1 – Soilwork – Solitude Aeturnus – Soul Embraced – Strapping Young Lad – Substance for God – Subterranean Masquerade -Suffocation – Symphorce – Testament – The Defaced – Trance of Mine – Tweltfth Gate – Devin Townsend – Trail of Tears – Tystnaden – Unjust – Watch Them Die – Winds – Zero Hour and Frost Magazine Issue 3 (Cover only).

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    August 2008
    M T W T F S S
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