Having worked with a variety of artists, bands and DJs IAMTHESLEEPWALKER is a graphic designer and illustrator from the UK. Since making a name for himself back in 2007 and working relentlessly in a highly competitive field through designing T Shirts, gig flyers and CD covers I hook up with Vincent Drummond to learn more about his career within the metal and alternative scene.
1. Could you introduce yourself and tell me some more about your work and where it all began?
My name is Vincent, but the name I use for all my creative outlets is IAMTHESLEEPWALKER.
I’ve been designing things since 2007 when I created my first album cover whilst working at a really boring day job. There was never enough work for me to do so I used the time more wisely and started designing album artwork.
No, I wanted to be a fireman when I was a kid! Haha
Once I was in secondary school though, I knew I wanted to do something in the art world. It was the only subject at school where thinking for yourself and finding your own path was actively encouraged. I loved being able to create things, dream stuff up and work with my hands rather than learning by rote from textbooks. I always devoted more of my time to my art homework than to any other subject. Also I remember my Dad had all these vinyl records and I thought that designing album covers was the coolest job in the world.
The Infernal Sea are from my hometown and they play scorching evil Black Metal. Their track Skinwalker has one of the best riffs I’ve ever heard; it’s probably the most played track on my Ipod! I remember seeing TIS vocalist Dean around art college way back in 1999. Many years later I found TIS through Facebook, got all their releases and went to a few shows and recognised Dean on stage. I got in contact with him through Facebook and said how much I liked the music and offered my design services if they ever needed artwork. They’re good lads and a phenomenal band. If Dean is reading this – I’ve got plenty more CDs for sale!
4. How competitive is the industry you work in?
Anyone can download a cracked copy of Photoshop and make a flyer or a cd cover and upload it to a myriad of social platforms, portfolio sites and blogs and get their work seen by millions of people instantly. The internet is a vast quagmire of bad design. So in that respect is it extremely competitive; it is a constant battle to rise head and shoulders above the rest. It can be quite disheartening at times. But in the same way that a beautiful flower can bloom in a swamp, good design and good designers will always rise above the shit.
Absolutely. 90% of the clients I’ve worked with have either been music artists that I listen to and have subsequently contacted or I have become a fan after they have approached me. I think it is very important to work with artists where you get a strong feeling from their work and are into what they do, otherwise how can you fully devote all your passion and energy into a project that you don’t believe in?
6. I also heard that you have done designs for DJ’s as well as bands, who are these DJ’s?
I’ve worked with Broken Note who makes some of the most crushing electronic beats I’ve ever heard. I have done a lot of work for Migu at Black Hoe Recordings; he puts out some really strong music under the broad spectrum of drum & bass. He’s supported my work since day one.
7. How different or similar is it to tailor your work to DJ’s as opposed to metal bands?
I work the same way regardless of the style of music. The music influences my work. I am creating visuals based on how the music gets to me.
8. What is your favourite genre of music and why?
When I was growing up my Dad used to have an eclectic collection of music so I was exposed to sounds as diverse as old blues to Genesis to Belinda Carlisle to classical. Then as my two brothers and I got older we developed our own musical tastes from there; so there were always at least three different styles of music playing in our house at any one time. So now I find enjoyment in most forms of music.
Music has the power to start riots and subcultures. It can break hearts and heal minds. Music is one of the most powerful forces in existence and as such I have never understood people that limit themselves to one or two genres. Although I do admit to having a bit of an obsession right now with bands doing that really dark hardcore/black metal/post metal crossover thing. Bands like Hexis, Calvaiire, The Secret, Deafheaven and the French band Celeste.
9. How much input do these artists have in the design process? Do they come to you with specific ideas or themes of what they want done?
I have been extremely lucky in that a large proportion of the work I have done I have been allowed a lot of free reign to create with little input from the artist. When I get to work in this way, there is a huge amount of trust on the side of the artist or band. They are asking me to represent their music in a visual way and they believe in my work enough to let me interpret their music in my own style based on my own instincts and experiences. I find it very humbling to be given such a position of trust.
One of my favourite commissions was from a band that sent me the mp3 files for their forthcoming album and asked for a cover to be designed and their only stipulation was, “We want something dark and weird”. I had so much fun with that project!
A few things I am stoked on right now are a collaboration painting/illustration with Bo Orr from the band Dead In The Dirt and a 12” vinyl sleeve for Broken Note.
I am also about to start a gig poster for Camblast Promotions who are putting on some awesome shows around Cambridgeshire with local hardcore/metal bands and I recently completed a hand drawn T-shirt design for Black Hoe Recordings. I’m always open for commissions & collaborations so if you’re out there and need some design work, get in touch!
11. Are there any bands or artists that you would love to work for? If so who are they and why would you most like to work for them?
Two bands that come immediately to mind are Hexis (Doomy black metal/hardcore from Copenhagen) as I would love to design something that incorporates photography and hand drawn elements. Something esoteric, really cold and hard as granite.
The second band is The Wytches (Brighton based psychedelic surf grunge?). I have not done anything for a band with a sound like theirs and I wonder what I could come up with for them. They are a mesmerising live band, I urge everyone to go see them asap!
I would love to work with Behemoth too. Their last album, The Satanist, was simply jaw dropping; musically, lyrically and conceptually. I would love to have been involved in making the visuals to accompany that; from initial ideas to photography to logo to graphic design to music video, everything.
Also if I could hang out with Jacob Bannon from Converge and do a collaboration painting with him; that would be a lifetime highlight.
Short answer – I would love to work with anyone making music I can dig and who has integrity and passion for the music they are making.
12. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Working with local bands. They’re just guys like me looking to break out from the endless cycle we were born in to, working hard at what we believe in. To feel part of that whole scene, to meet, talk to and befriend those people and to contribute something back into it is truly fulfilling.
13. Is there any advice you could give to any graphic designers out there who are starting up?
1. Never work without a contract
2. Always carry a pen, paper and a camera
3. Never rest. Stay hungry.
14. Is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t already been covered?
Just to say to anyone I have made art for over the past few years and to anyone who has got behind or bought my work; my appreciation for your belief & support is endless.