Highlighting the work of one who stimulates the mind with dark, boundless visuals.
In a contemporary world of anxiety, uncertainty and fear, the arts have served as conduit for channeling human emotion. Creatives across the globe have taken to social media to express themselves in their own respective ways, inviting collaboration, engagement and camaraderie with one another to heartfelt results. As the arts continue to grow, Heaviest of Art aims to highlight the work of many that have introduced our community to new music, new experiences. With today's Artist Profile, we take another step at supporting their craft, selecting one particular artist and uncovering the variety of their works.
Our first Artist Profile entry highlights Brian Sheehan of the Legerdemain moniker as a creative who excels in the art of mixed mediums, specifically in a ruinous nature. Whether photography, videography, layout or art design, Legerdemain avoids the comfort of structure to stretch the limits of conventionality. A glimpse at any of his pieces would present an opportunity for one to see the mixed mediums at play, all coalescing into one uniform entity. Though his works remain dark in color, not one work is like the other, varying in shades, detail, and depth. They stray from simplicity and challenge viewers to uncover the layers within, as all art should.
To further highlight the art of Legerdemain, we go behind the mind of Brian Sheehan:
Of the many passions and professions around the world, why art and mixed media? Sheehan: Be it either a complex, a calling or flat out escapism, it's always made sense to lean in the direction of the arts. Not just as a means of expressing myself and communicating, but a constant state of making things, compelled to create. Your work is far from conventional, incorporating a well-layered mixture of dark elements, photography, and more. Upon approaching a project, is there an intended reaction you wish to evoke upon viewers? Sheehan: If the occasion calls. I would say most of the work has a cause to convey but reaction still resides with the voyeur. Most of the original art commissioned by bands runs on the lyrical/ conceptual themes with me having the opportunity to interpret visually. Layering elements is often a method to include multiple mediums and interests. Was there a particular moment in your life or artist throughout history that inspired you to want to take this particular dark direction? Sheehan: Without recalling the exact first impressions, I've always sought this stuff out. Often reference the old black and whites and visually striking horror films. It's the same song with music. My tastes are always expanding but remain grounded in the darker themes. Of your recent works, Shaidar Logoth’s Chapter III: The Void God and your WIP for Chrome Waves really stand as truly representative of your work. About how long does a cover illustration take to complete? Sheehan: Varies on the project. The Void God project originated from licensing a photo for the cover to a fully commissioned revisit complete with additional art and layout.
With the new Chrome Waves, Jeff sends music and I visually interpret. Same with the latest Wolvhammer art.
I also recently completed work on a two part EP series for Drought Year under similar direction.
Album covers, layouts, posters, merch, photography; you’ve done it all. How does the creative process for each of these differ from one another, seeing as you’re meeting somebody else’s creative requests rather than your own? Sheehan: Most clients come to me with minimal guidelines, which is preferred to say the least. Album art accounts for the bulk of the workload. I usually try to encompass an entirety of music into one image, then create the additional art to complete the layout. Design is a significant role in what I do and my general aesthetic.
Poster and flyer work was the gateway into commissions. I don't get to do as many as I used to but they're fun to do.
When art is commissioned for merch / attire, it usually has be planned in one or two colors for screen print. I recently finished a front and back design for German black metal band Vorga. They approached with lyrics and examples of my previously made art. The rest was left to me.
I can finally decide to call a piece finished when I want to use it for my own projects. I feel confident in the finished piece when I can exercise my full input. Photography (and now videography) has become the roots to all of this. I used to scour the web looking for old, public domain images I could manipulate and digitally paint over. Now, all the work relies on original photography, even if just as a base. Collaborating with other artists/ models absorbs new ideas and figurative dispositions. Going out and shooting texture porn has become a big part too, enabling an arsenal of layers to experiment with.
You’ve also been tasked with the visual duties for your own band, Fell Ruin. As a musician and an artist, how important do you feel it is for bands to invest in the visual side of the music, that being album art, layout, promo photos, etc.? Sheehan: They have always been trusting and direct with visuals. I listen to music visually. It would be disingenuous of me to play it down. Music should always be the focus and driving force. All the visual art just rounds it out. Writing / lyrics is an extension of the whole, keeping things cryptic and overly surreal. Explaining what a piece of music (lyrics) is about has never been a strong suit. There is certainly something to discern, but I won't put it much further than I already have. Attacking the cover art, merch, videos, etc. allows additional avenues to explore the whole.
As big fans of the label, I have to ask, does Luciano at I-Voidhanger require you all to have great album art? Of the many releases he’s put out, not one of them has a bad or even simple album cover. Every band on that label, Fell Ruin included, seems to get it.
Sheehan: Luciano is a person of taste, often enlisting the efforts of Elijah Tamu, who is one of my favorite contemporaries. When we first discussed releasing To The Concrete Drifts on I-Voidhanger, he was into the music but thought the art needed change. I quickly realized the opportunity to revisit and completely re-visualize. The final art and layout is still one of my favorite projects. Getting to do an extensive booklet with additional art and lyrics wasn't something I expected to do going into that album. Looking back on it, the album deserved no less. Luciano's roster of unorthodox projects is what attracted us to the label from the start. It's an honor to a have a release amongst so much prestige.
Of the many projects you’ve been involved with, are there any that hold more significance to you than others? Sheehan: They all serve their purpose when I'm immersed. Not favoring one more than the other, I usually multi-task a handful of projects simultaneously. It helps keep things fresh and always progressing. Whatever I'm working on becomes an obsession. Without question, the personal endeavors hold the reigns, exploring more mediums that involve as many of my interests as possible.
I founded an art collective, The COIN, with my my friend Red Devil Made This last year as a vessel to better navigate these interests and see it through with like minded individuals. Our main project, Cagliostro, is an immersive art exhibition held in a 19th century haunted church rectory here in Detroit. The second installment was held in early February, featuring work from ourselves, as well as Calvin Waterman, Jesse Jacobi, Breezy Tucker, Micah Ulrich and Nika Urban while scored live by A Death Cinematic and Crune. The future is uncertain, but we plan to at least complete the trilogy sometime next year.
You can learn more about The COIN here.
Speaking of bands and music overall, it’s been a great time for new releases. What’s on your current rotation? Sheehan: Agreed. There has been a plethora of great stuff released, even as recent as the last couple of months. I primarily listen to more ambient, neo-classical and film score type stuff these days. Metal still has it's place. If it's dark natured or full of melancholy I'm probably all ears.
As far as new releases, I'm really digging the new Temple of Void, Khost, Oranssi Pazuzu, Lychgate... not to mention the new Chrome Waves, Shaidar Logoth, and Drought Year albums. You can check out what I've been buying on Bandcamp here.
With no end in sight for the ongoing pandemic, people have been staying home, leading to a rise in creativity and online collaboration. That said, are there any bands or individuals you’d love to work with in the future? Sheehan: Things are getting interesting (optimism). I had a day job doing graphic design for licensed apparel, furloughed in mid-March, then let go with half the company a couple weeks later. This story is similar in every direction. Still, feeling in a better position than most and trying not to take it for granted. With that said, I am very flexible right now.
In an effort to do the things put off for far too long, I am conditioning myself in video/ audio production. Doc Monomer's Audio Emporium in New York recently conceived it's new video zine MONOMER TV, a community based platform adapting to a world isolating itself. I am submitting work regularly under the title "Cold Hours in Kingdom Skin". A dark, surreal, episodic narrative is premiering exclusively on Monomer. You can check that out here.
Additionally, I'm working on a handful of commissions and the follow up book to last year's "The Gauntlet of Glass & Mire". As for potential clients, yes please. I'd love to collaborate and commissions are desired more now than ever. If your vision is in league with my work, don't hesitate to reach out.
Check out more of Legerdemain's work at his website here, where interested bands, brands and more can get in contact for commission requests.