THE ART OF MUSIC -
An Interview with Jeff Gaither of GaitherGraphix
Interview by Christopher J. Kelter - November 2000
Music and art are inseparable. On its own, music can be viewed as a form of art; however, we've always bought music with artwork as an expected part of the package. The impact of art has gotten even more intense in the age of music videos. There is a resurgence of art in the music world as the images on the CDs we buy are just as important as the music the CD contains. Art can help the sale of the music and it can provide an instant visual image of the musician's musical effort.
Gaither's work is an artist whose unmistakable style is a perfect complement to music for that
perfect marriage of sight and sound. Rough Edge had a little chat with Jeff Gaither to gain some
insight to artist and his work.
Rough Edge: How did you get interested in art?
Jeff Gaither: I was born with the desire to draw. My mother and aunt was into art and monster movies and art. My aunt would bring me FAMOUS MONSTER magazines all the time. She took me to see THE EXORCIST and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD when they first came out. My aunt was murdered at the age of 26 with a shovel. What that has to do with the overall picture I don't know, but I am sure it fits in there somewhere. Back on your question, I just really enjoy creating pictures and I like the fact that good art can take a person out of their normal world for a few moments in time. I have created art for so long I really don't know how to do anything else. I think the art is like a drug. If I don't draw, create something over a period of time, I start to feel like shit and get depressed a lot. So it's not that I am that interested in art. It is a survival thing for me.
Rough Edge: How did your involvement in creating artwork for hard rock and heavy metal CDs get its start?
Jeff Gaither: Like I said before, I have drawn stuff all my life and it just grew into other areas of interest, which is music. I really enjoy music: heavy metal, death metal, punk, hardcore, speed metal, etc, etc. Just think of what a world would be like without art or music - pretty fucking boring. I started out doing art free for fanzines for years. After a while I would trade doing the art for ad space in the 'zine my art appeared in. So after a few issues came out with my ads, I started getting asked to do LP covers and demo covers. I did these also for a while free. At the time I figured it was more important to get my name out there than it was to make money. Anyway, I was having fun doing what I wanted. Drawing and getting free 'zines and records all of the time. After a few years of doing stuff for free, I started to charge a little to make back the money I was putting into supplies and postage etc. I do not do any free work anymore, there are more of me now (three kids and a wife) and they like to eat (HA HA HA). But my #1 thing to do is create CD covers or stuff for bands.
Rough Edge: The cover of the Pantera tribute CD is probably your most widely recognized artwork; tell us how that came about.
I sent out a lot of promotion packages to bands and record labels and one of these was
to Eclipse Records. Just my luck, as they were just starting to put together the tribute CD. After a
few phone calls from Eclipse Records, the deal was set, and I did the cover, CD face and the
back cover for the Pantera tribute CD. Some really cool things are in the works that I am doing now for
Eclipse Records. But I cannot say what it is as they would want my head on a plate. I really don't get
asked a lot about the Pantera thing, but The Accused cover I did a few years back is always asked
about. I think most people into metal and punk know of that band and that cover.
Rough Edge: Would you like to be as well recognized as Derek Riggs, Andreas Marshall, or Travis Smith?
Jeff Gaither: Strange question. Not really. I want to be as well recognized as Satan, and fuck the rest.
Rough Edge: Does collaboration affect your artwork at all?
Jeff Gaither: It does not affect it at all as I don't collaborate with other artists now. But when I did collaborate with other artists it's like working in a different world. Stuff I have done with Ed Big Daddy Roth, RK Sloane, Xno, Bob X - all have a unique feel to them. I think my art affects the others' art as much as they affect my art.
Rough Edge: Did you ever envision yourself working with the electronic medium when you got started?
Jeff Gaither: Hell, no. When I started out doing art as a way of life, e.g. making money at it, I did not even know how to turn a computer on. At the time I was working as an art director for a local company, and they just said one day "We are now going to do stuff with a computer" so it was learn it or leave. Little did I know at the time, that by "learning it" would help me out with my art and in the long run get lots more art jobs.
Rough Edge: Have you ever considered doing tattooing?
Jeff Gaither: I have done a lot of tat designs for people, and even seen a lot on my art used for tattoos. But never had any desire to tattoo on people. I am fine with just tattooing paper and canvas. I am way too much anti-social to be a tattoo artist.
Rough Edge: What do you have for sale?
Jeff Gaither: I have over 50 shirts, CD wallets with my designs on them (as well as other artist designs) and posters/prints etc. that a person can view and buy on/from my web site. Also, I have a contest running to win a free Pantera tribute CD signed by me on my site. When I have the time I will also be putting up some original art for sale on my site.
Rough Edge: Tell our readers about the free things they can get at your
website - http://www.gaithergraphix.com.
Jeff Gaither: I have a few things that people may like to check out. I have made a few (six, I think) wallpaper designs, free backgrounds, a puzzle made out of my art (sorry, it's an online puzzle). Plus, I can't remember as my site has over 300 pages on it, but I was offering a free full color flaming skull signed postcard to any one that would send postage to cover the cost of mailing it. I don't know if that is still on there, but the offer stands for any of your readers.
Rough Edge: Any big news you can share with our readers about new artwork of yours that might be seen on a wide basis?
Jeff Gaither: In my world things come and go. But some of the bands I am working with now or will be in the future are: The Misfits (again), Death Becomes You, Stool Sample, Bump-n-Uglies, Adam West, Hot Rod Lunatics, Riptides, Public Drunks, Born To Lose, Mushroomhead, Dwarves, Mortiis, Life.Set.Struggle, Gutterpunx, and that's the ones I can remember with out looking at my list. Talks are on now for a SOD cover, a movie poster for Troma, and maybe a new character for Rough Edge.
Rough Edge: Thanks for your time!
Jeff Gaither: Thanks for showing interest in my art. The world is a big place and when I sit in my little dark corner of the world and draw, it's nice to know that someone out there is as strange as me and enjoys the stuff I create. Everyone out there reading this is welcome to email me as I answer all of my email. Thanks again and keep up the great work with Rough Edge.
To see more of Jeff Gaither's artwork visit http://www.gaithergraphix.com.
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