We talk with Sludgework Meg, dark art illustrator from England, about the influences in her artwork, the scope of her work, and some of the pieces she's most proud to have worked on.
By looking at the image above, you can automatically guess that our featured artist isn't in charge of illustrating your child's books. Instead, Sludgework Meg specializes in pen and ink artwork with great attention to skulls and morbid detail. It just wouldn't be metal artwork without some skulls and gore, would it?
Meg has done work for a multitude of clients, spanning from doom metal bands to Twitch streamers. One of her most notable works includes the cover art for the WOMAN (Worldwide Organization of Metalheads Against Nazis) II compilation, which includes tracks from Ghoul, Allfather, and many more.
We had an opportunity to pick Meg's brain and learn more about her, her work, and some of the great music that keeps her sane in this hell we call Earth.
Sludgework Meg. Guide us through the creation of such a great name.
"I attended Bloodstock for the first time in 2017 and was browsing the smaller bands on the bill. I found Gurt and have been listening ever since. They were fantastic live in the Sophie tent and have been a regular on my Spotify ever since. That lead me to discovering more awesome sludge metal, which was my most listened to genre when I started to really get going with art properly in May this year. Sludgework popped in my head and I set it as my username and now I love it."
Who is Meg and what does a day in Meg’s life look like?
"Oh gosh, it’s never more prevalent how dull and basic you are until you try and answer a question like this! I am 25 and live in Manchester with my fiance and three Degus. A typical day is waking up at 6am, tired and wondering how many years I will need to keep working in a call centre, and hating myself for accepting 5 hours sleep again. I get coffee and something unhealthy, and go to work. Sometimes a new idea will pop in my head for something to draw or research so i’ll email myself for later that day. At lunch I’ll check social media and message the people i’m currently doing artwork for so we’re all up to date. Evenings are working on projects, bubble baths, beer and music time. Then I convince myself I can function on 5 hours sleep and stay up and watch horror movies."
How often do you find yourself working on new pieces?
"More often than not I have a new project to work on each week, sometimes multiple ongoing. I love being busy and always having something to work on."
One thing that is prevalent through most, if not all, of your pieces is the excellent use of skulls. What drew you to this?
"Death metal art is predominantly skulls and skeletons and grim reapers and blood and guts, all of the good stuff. Whilst I enjoy doing the traditional stuff, I know I have my own style which has developed into more animated looking skulls, usually in situations or portraying something. I’m drawn to this because its so adaptable and unrestrictive, and fun."
You have a creative look on skulls in your art, since they seem to be enjoying themselves. Would you say this is a playful take on the concept of death?
"I never really thought of it like that but yes, that makes sense. Maybe if I was seeing a therapist they'd say I have a morbid fascination with the macabre, and I'd agree."
Was there moment in your life or artistic career made you want to take on art? Specifically dark art?
"I started focusing on pen and ink drawings in my final year of Uni in 2011 but I didn’t have a specific style, just practiced whatever I could. It died down until early 2016 when I was working a factory job I hated, was in a relationship I hated and drawing was my outlet and my hobby. I knew then that it’s what I wanted to do full time someday. There’s no limits with dark art, you can be as simple or as grotesque as you like, as detailed or as basic as you like, and considering I have always enjoyed metal and horror, dark art is what I gravitated towards."
What projects are you most proud to have worked on?
"Well there's proud because it meant something to the client and proud because it helped a good cause so in those terms, I'm most proud of everything I've done so far because the client received work they wanted and can use and also most proud specifically of the WOMAN II artwork because of helping towards that immensely great cause."
You recently did work for the WOMAN II compilation, which seems to be making the rounds across social media. How did that come about?
"Following on from the Gaylord album art, Pope Richard contacted me to design the new WOMAN II cover. I received a message in which he had referred me to the previous cover for WOMAN I as reference and asked for my own take on it, but to of course keep the important imagery. I was very excited, the first cover looked awesome and to be given creative freedom to take an existing piece, which is so impactful and create something new was so much fun.
The pentagram had to stay as I feel that's the identifier, but i wanted to frame it differently, make it more angry looking. The symbols slot in so well within the design so I drew them in, and also because I know how important they are within the message of the compilation. I finished it off with skulls and fire because why wouldn’t I?"
There’s a hell of a lot of good bands, including Ghoul and Allfather, on that record. What does it feel like to be a part of such a significant compilation of tracks?
"That complilation is so important right now. When I started the design I had no idea of the scale of it but as time went on I started to see the incredible talent involved, and the powerful movement behind it. The hard work put into it is so evident, and to be a small part of that is just brilliant. I am happy that people seem to like the cover."
You not only do work for bands, but for Twitch streamers and bloggers. Do you feel that your scope of work has no boundaries?
"I hope it has no boundaries! If I can help design a piece of art for someone based on their ideas then I absolutely will. I have created artwork for an iPhone app, various podcasters, stickers for brands and individuals, art for people to frame on their wall, show flyers, T shirts, album art and band logos and as you mentioned, bloggers and twitch streamers and hopefully lots of other various forms of media moving forward."
Although you’re based in the UK, have you seen your work pop up in different parts of the world?
"One of the first commissions I ever did was for a Brazilian underground Metal band called Mandibulla. Unsigned and very small, such lovely guys and I enjoyed designing them a T shirt. It was unpaid but that didn’t matter, I just wanted to take their ideas and design something cool. So I guess it’s doing the rounds in their scene in Brazil. I’ve designed logos for quite a few US based people too so that’s really cool."
A big reason Heaviest of Art was created was to bridge artistry and musicianship, connect bands to illustrators. With the dominance and continued expansion of social media, do you think it’s important for bands and artists alike to increasingly engage audiences via social media?
"I do believe it’s absolutely crucial now for existing and and new artists of all kinds to engage on social media. I have discovered a huge portion of the music I now listen to via Twitter and Instagram, have been to gigs after seeing the flyers exclusively on there too. Social media is free to use and there’s no reason not to take advantage of it. Plus it’s so rewarding to make connections and friends on there, and to get chatting to people with similar interests."
Sludgework Meg, lover of sludge and death metal, what’s on your current playlist?
"Throughout October I have been regularly listening to:
Converge - Beautiful Ruin
Conan - Existential Void Guardian
Chained to The Bottom of the Ocean - Decay and Other Hopes Against Progress Gatecreeper - Sonoran Depravation
Gurt - Skullossus
Vile Creature - Cast of Static & Smoke
Slugdge - The Cosmic Cornucopia
Plus as of this week of course the new WOMAN II Compilation and songs from Hundred Year Old Man, Conjurer, Melvins, Brainoil and Fistula. I could go on but those are my stand-outs."
Are there any bands, individuals, or organizations that you’d like to work with in the future?
"To be able to do artwork for any of the incredible bands mentioned in my October faves would be so exciting. Gatecreeper especially has such good artwork, as does Fistula.
For individuals, two artists I have followed for years and absolutely admire are Mark Riddick and Defame. Both are out of this world artists for metal bands and brands. To ever get the chance to collab with them would blow my mind. I would also love the chance to continue to work for all of the people I have done art for so far as they have all been genuinely lovely, and to be asked to do further work would be a huge compliment."
We're thankful of having had the opportunity talk with Meg, who's always working, always leaving bands and brands happy, and most importantly, always doing what she loves. There's an incredible amount of heavy music releasing week after week, and we're sure we'll come across the Sludgework Meg touch in great albums to come.
Stay up to date with Meg's incredible work on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and be sure to hit her up for killer cover art, merch design, logos, and more at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those wondering, yes, Meg was responsible for our badass logo.