Peter Maria has created eye-grabbing art for such bands as Red Death, Eternal Champion, and Jesus Piece. A musician who plays in the Pennsylvania hardcore band Worn, Peter is the second entry on the site's Art Spotight series.
First off, what came first for you, the love of music, or the love of drawing?
I think the love for drawing definitely happened first when I was very young. I’d say the earliest drawings I can find are in old sketchbooks filled up by me and my siblings while being driven around in a minivan. There weren't personal devices like iPods or phones when I was a kid so the only music you listened to is what your parents put on, however what my parents put on was still pretty decent stuff like Zeppelin and Sabbath, so that was pretty cool.
How did you first get into heavier metal, and then hardcore and punk music?
As I just mentioned, my parents were cool with putting on what I would consider "heavy metal," and I thought it was ok, but I think the real interest developed when an older cousin of mine showed me the song "Raining Blood" by Slayer. I think I was around 11-12-years-old. I was very drawn to the intensity and instrumental mastery of this band, also the whole typical subconscious rebel against my parents thing fits here too because Slayer is definitely the answer for someone who's getting tired of bands in the ballpark of AC/DC and wants to get into something a bit darker.
Moving on to high school, I was gravitated more towards technical metal and “Warped Tour” deathcore sort of stuff, somewhat as an effort to fit in with who I went to school with but still gravitated towards the heavier stuff with bands like Oceano. I don't remember what show it was but eventually I ended up being at a mixed bill show that had hardcore bands on it and that definitely opened everything up for me.
Some of the first all hardcore band lineup shows I got to see were at Redwood Art Space in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and were some of my favorite shows I’ve been to. It was actually from seeing photos of Dead End Path's Blind Faith record release show that really made me want to get into the hardcore scene in the first place. I unfortunately only got to catch the last three shows held at that venue, but the ones I did get to attend were all amazing, I miss it very much. I think the best thing about going to these shows was that I went by myself after failing to convince my friends at the time to come with me, so after going to such a sick show I really felt like I found the place where I should be.
Who are some of the artists that inspired you early on?
Artists that inspired me early on were pretty across the board. Frank Frazetta has always been a favorite of mine, as well as fantasy painting in general. Robert Crumb was someone I definitely tried to emulate, not as much the subject matter but more the technique and linework quality of how it was drawn, just sharp crisp linework was a look I always try to have with artwork I create. I also got into recreating traditional tattoo flash for a few months while going through college, so artists such as Bert Grimm, Owen Jensen, Ben Corday, and essentially that whole era of design making, taught me a lot about how shading and coloring works. Mike Mignola definitely inspired me and continues to do so today. He’s one of few artists that’s able to blend narrative and visual perfectly with every artwork that he does so aspiring to that level is something I'm always headed towards.
In terms of the music world, who are some bands, past or present, you think have a strong visual point of view that helped influence your work?
I feel silly because this band is definitely not a hardcore band, or even technically a real band, but I would say Gorillaz. Right around the time I was old enough to actually start getting into music, I saw the music video for "Feel Good Inc." on MTV and was really blown away. I cant say that the music of that track in particular holds up for me today as it did when I was younger, but I’ve definitely always been a huge fan of the narrative and aesthetic Jamie Hewlett devised for these bands members that aren't even real. If you're into reading more about them and looking at more artwork by Jamie Hewlett, I recommend the book Rise of the Ogre.
How would you describe your style?
It wasn’t until several months ago that I really started to discover and develop a personal style of mine. Since I started it’s always been changing, but I feel as if I've found a legitimate foothold in an aesthetic now and that’s very exciting. I’d say this style is absolutely fantasy influenced but delves into other territories like science fiction, horror, and surrealism, which are really just subdivisions of fiction/fantasy. Its an extremely broad genre/aesthetic so there's never a shortage of media to pull inspiration from.
What is your toolbox like these days?
My process is pretty standard, nothing very crazy. I almost entirely work with Micron pens of various widths on Bristol paper. I have a scanner that I use to digitize each design and then use photoshop to clean up drawings before I send them out. Ive been trying to not rely on photoshop and in doing so the physical drawings end up being more presentable as artwork and less a bunch of different pieces that are all stitched together digitally. I have most of the adobe suite but what I know how to use is photoshop, illustrator, and indesign. Lately, I’ve been buying copic marker pens to get into more detailed coloring of illustrations and also more experimental materials like deleter screentones.
How have you gone about getting the word out about your work? Is going after commission work something that you dread, or do you find it to be a relatively painless process for you?
I feel most comfortable when people find my work on their own and come to me to get something commissioned. I don't like the idea of shoving my work into people's faces or forcing them to see it because I'm not a huge fan of when people do that to me. This isn't my primary source of income by any means so the process of getting work is pretty easy going when the work comes to you. The only thing that's hard is when bands I can't get into get in touch with me. It's just difficult to come up with ideas I enjoy for a band Im not having a good time listening to.
Who are some of the bands/labels you’ve worked with to date?
Some bands I'm very happy to have worked with are Skourge, Jesus Piece, Red Death, Eternal Champion, Protester, Kept in Line, Soft Grip, Fiddlehead, High Command, Title Fight, Worn (I play guitar in this band), Westpoint, and Nightfear.
Some labels I've worked with are Disposition Collective, Xpressions Records, Bridge Nine, and Pop Wig.
I would love to hear what some of your dream projects would be.
When it comes to dream projects, I'd have to say doing anything for Impalers would be the coolest thing. Not sure what I'd do but it'd be wild to get the opportunity. I would love to do something for War Hungry, too. They're my favorite band from near where I'm from. Also would really like to do more work outside of band designs, so please hit me up!
Who are some other current artists that you think people should check out?
Alright so shout outs to Caleb Harnett, Shane Moran, Robert Cerrito, Aaron Dale, Gil Sayfan, Isaiah Castillo, Dom Pabon, and the list goes on, but everyone is killing it and doing their own thing and it's great.
If you had to pick your #1 favorite band-related piece of art, what would it be and why?
It's gonna have to undeniably be "I Satan" by H. R. Giger. This was used for the cover of To Mega Therion by Celtic Frost. For those who might not know, H. R. Giger is the man who designed the xenomorph for Alien. There are artists out there who can work within a realm of fiction and have the world building done for them already, but Giger built his own entirely different dimension that no artist has been able to recreate as far as I have seen.