There’s one important part of a band that often gets overlooked, yet is a major component of the music’s aesthetic — the artwork. From show flyers, to album covers, band logos and T-shirts, the proper artwork can actively describe someone’s music. From just the art alone, Molly Hatchet and Meat Loaf look like supreme badasses, that is until you take the records for a spin.
“Good album and flyer art should both inform you of what they contain, but also entice you and make you curious as to what’s going on,” says Colorado Springs artist Caleb Butcher. Caleb makes art on a regular basis, and it all started from making show flyers at the now defunct DIY space Flux Capacitor. “I started making flyers after we opened as a way for me to contribute when I wasn’t in town,” he explains. “From that, I discovered that I was pretty good and really loved doing it.”
Caleb also creates album art, shirt designs and personal art pieces. With a supreme lack of shows, flyer art has definitely come to a halt but that doesn’t stop him from being creative.
“This past year I haven’t made any flyers because there’s no shows, but I have made a couple albums/shirt designs for bands, but mostly I’ve been making personal art,” he says. “I have a commission for a friend’s band that I need to get started on, but besides that I’m just working on personal pieces for now. ... But I’d love to make more art for other people. Please, I’m broke!” he laughs.
Another carefully thought out band component is the logo. It probably took Korn years to perfect that backwards “R” but look at them now!! They bathe in cash, and buy JNCO Jeans with whatever’s left!
Dennis Hughes is a Colorado Springs artist who designs band logos and illustrations that have graced album covers, show posters and T-shirts. Dennis grew up in Germany and was captivated by the forests, folklore and Gothic/Old German fonts. “The darker aspects of nature and typography became the cornerstone of my art,” he says.
In 2000, he moved to Colorado Springs at the age of 13. Art and music quickly began to meld together. “My love for Metal and my artistic path developed hand in hand during my teenage years, and I dedicated myself to creating visually the aesthetics, themes and emotions of the music,” he explains. “I fell in love with the idea that music and art were inseparable.”
In 2011, Dennis established Cythraul Art and began creating art for bands around the world. Though things have slowed down in live music, there are still new bands and albums being created, so not too much has changed in the art realm.
“The recent state of the music industry has produced a number of new projects, so logo and illustration requests have been fairly steady for me,” he says. “Although live music has been almost entirely decimated, this last year has seen a number of phenomenal releases.”
If you are into heavy music, surely you know of the crushingly brutal Denver band Primitive Man. They have a sound and visual aesthetic that go together perfectly — the art imitates the emotion and sound you get from the band. That is vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy’s doing, for he also designs the band’s album art and show designs.
“I think nowadays it’s most important because you need to have eye-catching merch,” says Ethan. “There are so many bands out there, and if you can have something on your album/shirts/etc. that makes people stop for a second, that is important.”
Without being able to tour as consistently, it’s been a good time to create more art. “All I’ve been doing is focusing on art and trying to improve,” he says. “Before the pandemic, I was too busy to really do that much visual art, so with losing most forms of income, I’ve really leaned into this.”
“Bands have still wanted it for sure,” he says, “and some bands have me on hold for next year when they have more money.”
T-shirts and posters are vitally important for bands. Pueblo’s Barrett Skul shreds guitar in the band Sonic Vomit, which also uses his art and images for their merchandise. “I first got into screen printing to make poster prints. I’m also an artist, so I thought it was a cool process to make prints of my own work other than a digital copy,” he says. “My first real poster I designed was for (Japanese Grind legends) Melt-Banana in Denver. People started asking me if I printed shirts and it just kind of expanded from there.”
Bands from all over the state have used Barrett’s unique style of art and have had him print the shirts himself. “It’s always nice to see someone wearing something I have made. It gives confidence that I am producing a product that people enjoy.”