Behind The Artworks: Cruce Signatus - Cruce Signatus (2024)

The artwork in the first chapter, Gehenna et Tartareum (translated from Latin as 'Hell and Damnation'), is based on the screenplay for the album - each track has its own chapter of the story, with each change or new part of the music signaling a specific moment or start of a section in the screenplay. In this first chapter, we meet our protagonist - Pierre Le Batard, an impoverished 11th-century French knight whose very existence relies on violence, cruelty, and vice but which also is defined by a totalitarian religious dogma. He confronts this internal contraction upon return from battle and suffers the judgment of an omnipresent deity and the prospect of consignment to eternal torment. Vincent (the artist and animator) was awesome to work with - we really 'mind-melded' on a lot of the influences and I feel like his interpretation of the material really added to my original screenplay and vision. From artist and animator Vincent Kings: "My goal with the music video was to make it feel as alien as possible. Our protagonist is being judged by a force that is truly beyond human comprehension like an ant trying to understand how a magnifying glass works as it moves into position to focus sunlight. I'm personally agnostic, so I've always had the feeling that cathedrals are big, beautiful monuments to something that I'll never totally understand, and I've tried to carry that through here. I tried to depict both the beauty and brutality in an uncertain relationship with the infinite. Artistically, I took a lot of inspiration from Hieronymous Bosch's depictions of hell, Caravaggio's moody shadows, Moebius' psychedelia, and the expressive ink work of my former roommate: illustrator and animator Ivan Stojkovic. As for the approach to animation, I was thinking a lot about the 1953 Telltale Heart adaptation by UPA, for how to get as much stylishness out of minimal movement as possible."

When it comes to the cover art, the goal was to develop a single image from which four album covers could be derived. The idea is that, when all four albums are released, the covers will be pieced together like a puzzle. In creating this image, I wanted to create a loose narrative, using thematic elements from each movement rather than characters or plot points. Part of the reason for this is that each chapter across all four albums will have a different artist and animator - I didn't want to influence future artists' interpretation of the story based on 'canonical' images of the characters or moments from the story by including them in the cover. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Chris (the cover artist) on this project. From cover artist Chris Anderson: "David approached me to do these interconnecting covers and the first thing that popped into my mind was the interconnecting comic book covers of the '90s and early aughts. Sure, they had to stand alone as images, but also had to flow, visually, when connected. David had mentioned wanting imagery like Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights and the Bayeux Tapestry. Bosch is known for bizarre and highly busy compositions. The Bayeux Tapestry is very much like a comic in that it tells a story as the eye moves along. So from there, I set to work, making sure the eye flowed in a pattern, and just started incorporating images from the list David gave me that went with each movement. Someone asked if the demon at the top of the first cover is from Masters of the Universe's Snake Mountain playset. It's not. But those toys are absolutely part of my DNA as an illustrator so I can see where they were coming from. I just wanted to have as many bizarre medieval demons with faces on their elbows and in their stomachs as possible. We decided to keep the color palette simple. David found one that he really liked and I expanded it in both directions to give it some more contrast. A lot of compliments have been given on the color choices, but I really have to credit David with that. All in all, I think we were very successful in bringing the vision to life and making people feel the feels."

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