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Behind the Scene: An Interview with Graphic Artist and Musician Bob Peele

We’re continuing our Behind the Scene column, highlighting the people behind the shows that we love, with a look at another one of Indianapolis’s amazing artists. Chances are if you’re a metal fan living in Indianapolis, you’ve seen one of Bob Peele’s flyers posted around town, maybe at the Sinking Ship or at Kuma’s Corner.  You might even have snagged one of his incredible screen prints at a show and have them hanging on your wall in your living room. Bob’s use of color and  apocalyptic imagery make for eye-popping, collectible pieces, but that’s not all Bob is known for. He also provides bass duties for Indy black-and-rollers Kvlthammer, who were recently featured in Invisible Orange’s Nine Bands you Need to Know From Indiana. Being that Bob is an important part of what makes our scene great, we were stoked to get the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his art, influences, and music.

Indy Metal Shows: How did you first get into art and who or what are some of your influences?

Bob Peele: I was always drawing and stuff when I was a kid and took a ton of drafting classes in high school, but I guess as far as what it’s become in my life now it all started with punk/hardcore and zines. I did a smaller cut-and-paste zine on my own in the early/mid 90s then started a nationally distributed, newsprint one with my friend Ryan Downey called the MAG. In doing that I learned that what I loved most about it was designing the thing so I started doing some CD layouts for local bands: Ice Nine, About the Fire, the Dream is Dead, etc. I eventually ended up going to Herron for graphic design and got my BFA and all that and just kept doing this stuff. I have a day job as a designer now, then do posters and “scene” stuff on the side.

Influences man, you know it’s all over the place. I’ve always been a hoarder/collector so even as a kid I grabbed all the CDs and magazines and stuff I could get my hands on and just devoured it all. I had shit stapled all over my walls which I’m sure my mom loved. I’ve always had stuff all around me, I still do – I have way too much shit in reality, but it’s what I’m into so whatever. I love really looking at album cover art and how packaging is put together and really like when bands & designers go that extra step and add more fold-out panels, or spot gloss or even more extreme packaging to the mix. I buy all the good horror art books, retro sci-fi art books, graphic design books, gig poster collection books, as well as scrounge the interwebz for inspiration.

Other artists: Fellow music art dudes Jake Bannon, John Baizley, Ryan Patterson, Davey Quiggle & the Clark brothers have been doing killer stuff for years. I follow a lot poster art stuff too, since I always need inspiration and to learn new skills: Dan Mumford, Mike Sutfin, Ghoulish Gary Pullen, Anthony Petrie, Hal Rotting.. there’s a gang of people I follow on Instagram and I love seeing their work. There’s tons of people out there that do this stuff way better than I do, and seeing their work helps push me to keep moving forward and trying harder.

IMS: What tools do you use to create? Pen tablet, scan and outline? What’s your technique? What’s your favorite media to work with?

BP: I’m strictly digital thus far using Illustrator and Photoshop. I did better in drawing class in school than I thought I would but never kept up with it and have just never picked it up again after that. I’d like to involve some more hand made elements and maybe get into doing some illustration and painting, but to be honest I’m super critical of my work and whenever I’ve tried lately I just get frustrated and stop projects part of the way through. They’re never as good as I want them to be. I’ve been thinking about getting a graphics tablet for a while and might pull the trigger on one soon, so we’ll see how that goes and how it might evolve the stuff I do.

IMS: A lot of your pieces are screen printed. Can you tell us what is involved with this process?

It’s really simple actually and I mainly work on cheap DIY equipment I’ve made over the years. People tend to think it’s out of their reach and it’s really not that tricky, especially with all the info to be had on the web (RIP Gigposters.com – that site helped beyond what I can express and is now sadly gone). If I know the project is going to be screened I design with that in mind, keeping the limited colors I plan to use on separate layers in whatever program I’m using, like preplanning sort of. Each color used gets it’s own screen/layer for printing. You prep the screens, print out the separations, burn the screens and get ready to print. I have 1/2 of my garage set-up for printing so I have the washout sink, a couple of presses and stuff out there. Then you just screen each color one by one through the whole run; so you print the white layer on all 50 posters, let them dry & set up for the next color run and print that, etc. The main trick is getting each color to line up with each other (called registration), which can be tricky depending on the design and how well the files were prepared in the beginning. I only work with water-based inks, so clean up is just water and soap so it’s much easier to deal with than shirt printing.

If you’re into learning how to screen there’s a ton of stuff online to help you get started. You can build your own printing table and wash out booth, etc. It’s really easy and fun and you never stop learning new tricks and techniques so your art and printing can always evolve into better and better things.

IMS: What helps you get into your creative head space? Do you listen to music while creating?

BP: Yeah, music surrounds me most of the time at the day job and when I’m doing my own work. If I’m designing for a particular band I’ll listen to them prior to and during the stuff I’m doing for them – just to get the vibe of that band around me and to get a feel for what the visuals should be like. Sometimes it’s hard to get in the right mood, I especially have trouble sitting at the computer at home after sitting one at work all day doing “the same stuff” so usually just hit it when I’m feeling inspired. Inspiration can come from seeing something somewhere and getting a spark or an idea, and really, that can happen just about everywhere: driving around thinking, seeing something online, hearing a news story somewhere. You can’t plan for inspired time, it just happens.

IMS: What has been your favorite piece that you have created? What about it are you most proud of?

BP: I’m still really happy with The Dream is Dead’s Hail the New Pawn LP layout I did forever ago. I think it really captured the band’s presence and lyrical message and had several layers of meaning in the art with the use of the spot gloss and inner and outer packaging. Lately I’ve been pretty into the posters I’ve been doing: the Skeletonwitch tour poster, the Demiricous reunion show poster, the Appleseed Cast/Pillars one. I’m always critical after the fact and everything I’ve always done could have been better, but thats how it goes.

IMS: One of my favorite pieces is the Demiricous reunion poster. What was the inspiration for that?

BP: That one was fun. Since I did all of their album/demo art for years in some way or another, we talked about this being a combination of elements from all of theses I revisited those and just started going. The folded hands are from their last demo, the snakes and bullets and stuff are from their first album, the horse heads are from their second LP. I just had to figure how to tie them all together with some new stuff and this is what came of it. It, as well as something like this can, represents all of their work in one piece kind of.

IMS: Any cool ideas/pieces percolating that we can be on the lookout for?

BP: I’ve got some stuff swirling around in my head. I want to start making more art prints and other stuff; maybe some pins and patches and crap. You know I’m always down with the skulls and the apocalypse and stuff – thats what I do, so you can expect more of the same from me I’m sure. Who knows really. I take gigposter jobs whenever I can, but that always depends on what shows are going through and what bands are reaching out to me.

IMS: Where can we purchase your stuff and how can promoters/bands get in touch to have you work on a piece?

BP: My site is longlivedesignlabs.com. I have a store set up on it where you can buy any of the leftover gigposters from there past as well as a couple of art prints I have available. You can hit me up though there and/or email me at [email protected] as well. I’m open for any kind of design work: posters, CD layouts, shirt designs, whatever. It’s a great feeling to be contributing part of our musical scene and I’m always down to do stuff.

IMS: In addition, to your visual art, you also play bass in Kvlthammer.  What’s new with them? Do you have any  dates coming up?

BP: Kvlthammer is on hiatus right now and have been for a few months. Chubbs is slaying his guitar in Sacred Lather now and he wanted to focus on that for the forseeable future so we all decided to just chill for a while. We’re not officially done and have talked about getting it going again to record some new stuff and play some more shows later in the year. There’s no plans at this point though so we’ll just see. I love those dudes and it’s a ton of fun so hopefully we’ll recharge and bring it back on some level. Those guys are doing their thing in new bands and have stuff in the works: Carl’s got Final Void and keeps super busy recording bands, Josh (Chubbs) is doing Sacred Leather, Nate has a couple of things brewing that don’t have names yet that I know of. I’m just hanging out doing some art stuff and am not worried about playing right now. It’s cool – we’ll all always be around keeping active in the community – it’s just who we are and what we do.

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