I ran into the works of many great visual artists at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona last month. And the one that most caught my attention was Dani, the mind (and hands) behind the spanish Münster Studio.
After buying a really cool poster for an Unsane/Big Business concert, I managed to talk to Dani, who agreed to give me an interview about his work, which includes posters for bands like Napalm Death, DOA, Jello Biafra, Tragedy, Baroness, Earth, Swans and Jarboe, among others.
For more info about his work, go to http://www.munsterstudio.com/
When did you start to make posters for bands? And how did that happen?
Hola! I started in the late 90´s making posters for my own bands and gigs that I organized. They were mostly cut and paste punk posters, not really serious. It was when I ended my design studies at art school that I took poster design more seriously. I saw what was going on around the world and I thought it was a great opportunity to mix up two things that I love: music and art.
Do the bands usually give you direction about what they want on their poster? Or do you have total freedom?
It depends; usually I have freedom. But sometimes I receive some instructions or corrections on what I’ve done.
By the way, who usually approaches you for this? The bands directly, or their labels?
Mostly the bands and the local promoters who want a good design for their show.
What inspires you to create? Does the music of the band influence you directly? On your site, you say that you listen to the music, read the lyrics and look at the pictures of the band.
We try to introduce ourselves into the band’s world, with their music, images, etc. Then we try to create something in our own style, with the ideas we got from the band’s creative output or from what they suggest to us. For us, the lyrics are very important, as they help to create the visual story. But music is also a great influence and it usually guides us in the general look (dark, bright, etc).
On your website, you’ve said that “this is not a job, but a pleasure” for you. What’s the biggest challenge when you’re creating something for a band?
I think the work has to be appropriate — it has to fit with the band’s sound and lyrics. There are different ways of doing this, but I prefer not to work just with one style and to be a bit eclectic. This way I can explore different visual languages and try to be as close as I can to the band.
And is it essential that you like their music to work with a band? I ask that because you work with a lot of different bands, like Unsane, Napalm Death, Swans and The Horrors, just to name a few.
I don´t think so; it could be really helpful, but the main point is to capture the band’s spirit. I like most of the bands with whom I work, but I also take just as seriously the work for bands that I don’t like. It’s passionate work, but you have to be professional and do your best, even if you’re not into the music.
Besides making art for bands, do you play any instrument or have you played in a band? If so, does that help you to understand better what the bands expect from your work?
Yes, in the past I played in a lot of hardcore punk bands. I started playing bass guitar, but I also learned to play guitar and drums. Not very well though, but enough to make some noise (laughs). Right now I’m just playing drums in one band called Totalickers. I think that being a musician myself helps me to understand what the bands need and how they work. It’s not essential for this work, but it helps.
By the way, do you have some favorite posters you have done?
No, it’s too difficult to choose. I always prefer my newest ones, but there are some that are special because they are for bands that I’ve liked for a long time: Napalm Death, Jello Biafra, Russian Circles, Fucked Up, etc.
Besides you, I also ran into the work of Error Design at the Primavera Festival. What other local artists would you recommend?
Yes, Xavi of Error Design is a very good friend and we try to do things together, specially in poster design, as it’s not a very known work here in Spain (this is changing, but there’s still a lot of work to do). I really like the work of Abel Cuevas, Bad Ink, Branca Studio, etc.
What other visual artists do you look up to as influences?
Many gigposter makers from around the world, but also designers: Isidro Ferrer, Saul Bass, etc. I love the work of Gee Vaucher, responsible for the visual work of CRASS, the Russian constructivists, avantgarde movements, Goya, Jan Svankmajer films, Polish posters, comic books, etc. I try to have an open mind to everything around.
This is the last one. Please tell me three records that changed your life and why they did it.
Hum… difficult to take just three. I’m really into hardcore, punk and metal. So I think they will be these ones:
– Metallica’s Master of Puppets: Metallica introduced me to fast and aggressive music. I think they are my all time favorite band (the 5 first records) and even now I don’t know if I like this one more or Ride the Lightning.
– Crucifix’s Dehumanization: They mix the ideas of the English anarcho-punk bands (CRASS, etc.) with the sound of American hardcore and English ’82 punk of Discharge. This is an essential record.
– Public Enemy’s It takes a nation of million…: I like furious music, and this record showed me that there were other ways of doing it beside guitars and drums.