Killswitch Engage/ Overcast bassist Mike D'Antonio is a man of many talents. Not only is he known for his skills on the 4-string guitar, but he's also an accomplished graphic designer. And we're not just talking about within the Killswitch catalog -- Mike D. and his DarkIcoN Design company are responsible for numerous album covers, show flyers, t-shirts and much more throughout the music world. In fact, D'Antonio's latest endeavor is none other than the debut album cover of Roadrunner's Canadian metal newcomers Baptized in Blood. Creating the killer image of a Great White Shark clamping its massive jaws on the band's logo, Mike D. has yet another iconic album cover under his already accomplished belt. To find out more about his work with BiB and his work as a designer in general, we caught up with Mike to talk shop.
How did you get into graphic design?
I knew a lot of bands that needed 7" and demo tape covers when I was a kid. Since I went to a Vocational High School (Graphic Arts Shop), I used to sneak projects on the press without the teachers knowing. It only took a few minutes to run off a few hundred covers, so I never had to pay and I never got caught.
How important is the tie between art and music in your opinion?
They are both the same to me: ways to express yourself. Nothing beats a great cover on a great record. Most times the cover gives a "face" to the faceless music genre.
What to you personally are the most iconic album covers in existence?
Cro-Mags, Best Wishes
Iron Maiden, Number Of The Beast
Iron Maiden, Piece Of Mind
Iron Maiden, Live After Death
Soilwork, Natural Born Chaos
Judas Priest, Screaming For Vengence
Misfits, Die Die My Darling
You’ve featured wild life before, and on Killswitch’s South American tour diary, we watched you snap pictures of the rainforest for inspiration… can you sum up your take on nature in art, and art in nature?
Since I travel for a living, I take photos everywhere I go. It gives me an infinite supply of artwork for my projects, since I can't draw. Nature is everywhere and different everywhere, so naturally I try to get as much variety as I can.
What were you going for on Baptized in Blood’s cover?
I just wanted to make the band happy. They only knew what they didn't like, so I was throwing everything I had at them. They are a band with their own vision, and that can be a very admirable quality.
Was the shark your idea or their’s?
It was an idea I sent over to them. Like I said, I am an artist that relies on using my own photos to create my artwork, and action shots of sharks are hard to come by. It was the first time I have ever had to use "stock" photography for a layout. Luckily the shot was affordable.
How did you get connected with the guys in the first place?
Gail Marowitz - the Creative Director at Roadrunner - recommended me, and the BiB guys thought it was a good idea.
Who are some other artists you’ve worked for aside from BiB and KsE?
Here are some of my clients I have worked with at DarkicoN design: New England Metal and Hardcore Fest, Shadows Fall, Overcast, Soilwork, Unearth, All That Remains, Crowbar, Ibanez Guitars/Basses, Tama Drums, Roadrunner Records, No Mercy Clothing, Throwdown, Bandmerch, Only Crime, Six Feet Under, Rock and Shock Fest, Ferret Music, Metal Blade Records, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Lifeforce Records, Mass Concerts, 36 Crazyfists, Trivium, Blood Has Been Shed, Cannibal Corpse, Metal Hammer Magazine, Sworn Enemy, Madball, Chimaira, Caliban, Pressure Fest, Clear Channel, Disembodied, Godbelow, Endless Fight Records, Bloodjinn, Fates Warning, Grimlock, Heaven Shall Burn, Diecast, Bloodwitch, For The Love Of, Miltown, Kingpin, Shed, Day Of Mourning, All Else Failed, Lifeless Records, Strikeforce/Samson Records, Flatline Records, Blasphemour Records, and Alone Records.
Which album cover design are you most proud of and why?
Well, Killswitch Engage's LP The End Of Heartache recently got voted the 6th best cover in RR history... that's a pretty cool feeling.