Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Treatise Of Magic: Angelo Roccagli and Overunit Machine

Italian metallers, Overunit Machine recruited fellow countryman artist, Angelo Roccagli of Black Reflection Media for the design of the cover and inner illustrations featured in their new album "Aldaraja." In the following interview, Roccagli recounts how these graphics were brought to life.

The front cover artwork

How you became involved with Overunit Machine and this particular project?

Angelo Roccagli: I got in touch with Overunit Machine thanks to a Facebook comment. A friend of mine is a fan of the band and when they did a post searching for a graphic designer for their new album, my friend proposed my name. So the band checked out my work and they contacted me.

Who came up with the cover concept and what inspired? Were there any other cover concepts that you discarded?

Angelo Roccagli: The idea for the cover is mine. There was another image I proposed, but the band thought that wasn’t strong enough so I decided to slightly change it and made it a part of the inner pages.
The complete front/back cover

Did the band give you any materials (lyrics, music, etc) in order to get you inspired?

Angelo Roccagli: No, they didn’t give me any materials. They just gave me the title “Aldaraja” (a XVI century Latin treatise on magic) and some keywords to let me imagine how the artwork should be. This was strange, it was the first time I found myself in this kind of situation, all the other bands I worked with gave me lyrics and few songs. But, although this caused some initial problems for me, it let me free to open my mind and work following the instinct of my inspiration, I took it as a creative challenge.

Human, mechanical and oceanic elements are heavily present not only in the cover but also in the inner illustrations. Can you explain the symbolical significance of these elements? 

Angelo Roccagli: The human element always fascinated me in all his aspects, I think it gives the watcher the feeling of being part of the illustration, a way to let him identify himself with art. The oceanic factor was a choice I made casually, following the instinct as I said before. The band wanted something mystical and I thought that the sea and all its characteristics could fit well in this case.

Is there any specific meaning behind the constant present of the triangle and other mechanical/mathematical references?

Angelo Roccagli: Yes, all those parts have a sense in my concept of the artwork. Other keywords the band gave me were “magical” and “decay.” The triangle and all the symbols I used are the magic side, related to the occult symbology. The mechanical parts are the decay side. I say this because I choose to associate this features to the modern age: the concrete, logical and material aspect counter-posed to the unreal world of magic.

Tell us more about the making-of process not only for the cover but the whole layout.

Angelo Roccagli: I started to design a inner illustration of the booklet. This allows me to develop the imaginary and the atmosphere of the artwork, without being stressed by the cover, the most hard part to create. I showed it to the band and they found it great, so I knew I was stepping in the right way of thinking. So I keep on collecting and gathering ideas based on those keywords, trying to interpret them with my own sensitivity and my artistic style.

About the technique: it’s all digital. With Photoshop I manipulate images chosen from an accurate selection based upon the ideas I have. I use a lot of textures in my work, and I ‘m really meticulous when it’s time to opt for one of them. Most of time I create them on my own, starting from photos I made. And so I did with this artwork.

There's a prominent use of stock imagery. From what sources you selected these images and what was the criteria for your selection?

Angelo Roccagli: I pick up the images from websites that provides stock photos. This took a lot of time, because I searched with a very specific criteria. Since the title refers to a XVI century book, I looked for images that could give that kind of “ancient” feeling, both for the human features and the symbolical elements. Also the mechanical parts are not contemporary drawings, but handmade illustrations.

The color palette for this design is very specific and tends to avoid too much tonal vibrancy. Can you tell us more about the reasons to select this particular tonal combination?

Angelo Roccagli: The color palette is one of the things I prefer about this work. When you think about a Metal release the first colors that usually come in mind are dark/black oriented, so I decided to go to the opposite side. This was a risky decision because it could be seen bad by the band, but they liked this style. So I continued using these bright backgrounds, focusing on complementary colors, as blue and red, to create opposing shades. I choose to use red as a predominant color, because I think it can be related to something passionate, impetuous, but also primordial and magical.

This artwork is a good example of your visual style and your obvious preference to mix photography with digital media in order to create images of cryptic beauty. Can you comment about this?

Angelo Roccagli: Since I was sixteen I use this type of art to express my thoughts and my way to see certain aspects of the world. I grew up staring at the beautiful works of masters like Travis Smith, Seth Siro Anton, Zdzisław Beksiński and they gave me the inspiration to try this kind of catharsis, obviously always trying to do it with my personal style. Mixing photography and other digital media allows me to do it with a more “realistic” feeling. I like to take photos of existing natural places, cities, people, walls and make them a part of a new reality in my visions. I take details and transform them in a unique frame. I like to think that as a sort of realistic fiction.

How did the band reacted when you showed the finished artwork?

Angelo Roccagli: The band just loved each illustration, they were really enthusiastic each time I forwarded them a new piece of the work. Luckily they gave me such freedom to create the artwork and they liked all of my proposals. In the meantime, while I was working, they let me listen to three songs of the new album and I realized that my work fitted perfectly with their music.

Angelo Roccagli 


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