Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 75 - Interview with Gaetano Di Falco

State Of The Art: An interview with GAETANO DI FALCO


When vinyl was king, album artwork was an intrinsically important part of the package; who can forget the joy of those glorious gate-fold sleeves displaying examples of stunning artwork or imaginative designs? For me, many a day spent flicking through album racks in independent record stores in the 80s and 90s resulted in frequent purchases based solely on superb cover art. For example, Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' was bought simply on the basis on that cover before a single note was ever heard. The coming of the digital age might have made music more convenient and portable, but those little CD booklets pale in comparison beside their vinyl predecessors, perhaps one of the reasons vinyl is making somewhat of a comeback in recent years.

Being a science-fiction and fantasy fan, I was always drawn towards covers that displayed these themes; artists such as Rodney Matthews, Chris Achilleos and my personal favourite, Luis Royo. When working with the band Ten at Now And Then Records, we had the pleasure of working with Royo on the album covers for 'Spellbound' and 'Babylon', while Chris Achilleos provided the artwork for 'Return To Evermore' and Gary Hughes' awesome two-part King Arthur project, 'Once And Future King'. When we signed Ten for Rocktopia Records back in 2014 we once again wanted a visually striking album cover for 'Albion', and remembering the excellent painted cover on the recently released Johnny Lima album I got in touch with the young Italian illustrator Gaetano Di Falco. Here I found a like-minded, hard-working, easy going soul-mate who was not only into the same music as myself, but was someone who could take our ideas and turn them into the most striking realities. Gaetano's artwork was 'Albion' was so magnificent we just had to revisit those halcyon days and release it as a limited edition, glorious double gate-fold LP. We continued our relationship with Gaetano for a further three Ten CD covers, all of them striking and helping fuse the combined quality of amazing art with superb music.



Star-Fighter by Gaetano-Di-Falco
"Star Fighter" by Gaetano Di Falco


With many new bands today looking for striking artwork to help promote their releases, and with Fireworks wanting to look beyond the latest musical releases, I took the chance to chat to Gaetano about his work and display some more of his wonderful creations.

For the young Gaetano, it seemed painting was always going to be his destiny. "I've always loved to draw. It was my innate passion. Since I was a child my favourite "toys" were pencils and markers. I used to draw everywhere in my house, even on the walls. I remember that when I was 10, all my classroom mates wanted drawings made by me, even the teacher was fascinated with my drawings. I'm born in a family of painters so brushes and colours were very familiar to me. The art of drawing was always present in my life, I cannot remember a day in my life in which I have not imagined an epic scene and translated it on paper."

To perfect his talent, Gaetano attended art school in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, after which he went on to learn a lot about the business working for books and advertising at a private studio. "When you work for advertising you have to understand what the customers want so you learn how to translate requests from third parties into an artwork as required. It's extremely important as an illustrator to be able to understand at once customers wishes about how the art must be done, especially in the music business when working for commission."


Take-My-Soul by Gaetano-Di-Falco

"Take My Soul" by Guetano Di Falco


To this day Gaetano doesn't really consider his love of painting like a business, but more of a deep passion, although the potential for earning quickly became apparent. "I do it firstly for my own satisfaction. I think I saw the potential when people started to ask me to supply work under commission. When I used to work for big companies illustrating for advertising, at the same time I always followed my deep love for fantasy and sci-fi art, making illustrations inspired by my own taste, simply for fun. Some were very raw sketches or just layouts and I never sold them because they were for my own pleasure but people loved them. Then I improved my style very much so that today I feel it's really my own and I started to paid work doing illustrations for rock bands."

It had always been Gaetano's dream to see his work on an album cover, and he finally achieved his dream. "Music and painting are the two halves of my soul, my innate passion. I was born as rocker and I started to buy my first albums when I was only 13 years old. I've been fascinated by the illustrations of album covers and it was a dream to see my own work on such a cover one day. My very first album cover was for an Italian heavy metal band, not a famous one, and I did lots of album covers for underground bands at the beginning. The first that I did for a famous artist was for Revolution Renaissance, Timo Tolkki's project featuring artists like Michael Kiske and Tobias Sammet.

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Take a look at Gaetano's web-page and it becomes quickly apparent that he shares the love of the female form with the greats Boris Vallejo, Chris Achilleos and Luis Royo before him. But his inspiration runs deeper than mere female beauty. "Everything inspires me, even if the theme of beautiful women has a dominant part in my art. I like to illustrate mainly beautiful women because the theme of Amazons and Valkyries is my favourite one. I could be considered a pin-up fantasy artist but I love to illustrate everything, even the most horrific scenes and sci-fi themes. I don't illustrate women just because I want to represent beauty at its finest. My women are always strong warriors or goddesses with a very heavy metal and rock attitude but there's also a deeper meaning in my art that can be considered in a certain way like an allegory. I love to illustrate women as warriors because in history they always had to fight for their rights; for this reason you can see their fierce attitude in my art. I'm also Italian and I love the Renaissance period; my roots and my taste in art belong to this awesome. I love to illustrate everything and turn even the most simple scene in something magic, as my idea of art is to amaze the viewer with something crazy and breath-taking. I love everything that is crazy and magic."


The-Earth-Shrine by Gaetano-Di-Falco

"The Earth Shrine" by Gaetano Di Falco



With music being an equal passion, Gaetano has almost three thousand albums and listens to them all. A self-confessed "rocker to the bone" he explains how music is really important to his work. "It really inspires me while I draw so is a very important part of my creative process. If I have to create an album cover for a band it's a must for me to listen to the sound of the band, or even better to the whole album on which I'll have to work as I want to reflect the spirit, sound and the soul of the band in the art too. The album cover must translate into an image the music and the feelings of the album itself. When I have the opportunity to listen to the music I close my eyes and I try to paint images in my mind, to feel what the music teaches to me and then I try to do my best to translate my visions.

If I have to pick my favourite band, well, I must say that Aerosmith are the ones that took my soul since I was a kid, especially their early work. But I really love metal bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Pantera, Warlock etc especially the 80s/90s period of those bands but I also love so much also music from the 70s. I am a huge fan of bands like Jefferson Airplane, Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, The Who and early David Bowie. They all wrote such amazing masterpieces. If I should name a more recent band that today I really like in the heavy metal scene. my preference would be Within Temptation — lovely voice and sound. I'd love to make an illustration for them one day.


Twilight-Of-The-Gods by Gaetano-Di-Falco

"Twilight Of The Gods" by Gaetano Di Falco



Like most artists, when asked to name their favourite piece of work there is no immediate answer. "This is a very hard question and usually I always answer that my favourite album cover is ... the next! I've had the pleasure to work and collaborate with so many wonderful artists, every album cover and/or collaboration has something special for me, or taught me something. I had the pleasure and the honour to collaborate with artists like Manowar, Hellion, Ten, House Of Lords, Robin Beck among others. Usually I give my best when I have complete control over the artistic process. I can understand by the style of the band and by the sound of the music what would be the perfect illustration to do, but too often things are imposed on me even in every detail."

Computer illustrating certainly seems to be the way of the future, as compared to the old brush and canvas method. As Gaetano strongly attains, "They simply cannot be compared in my opinion. There are illustrators and there are painters. I do love both schools and both need a lot of patience, techniques and dedication. I use a pen tablet as all the illustrators do and there's no photo manipulation in my art; for example, the hairs of my models —whose bodies are totally illustrated and not photos — are painted one by one; it's really an exhausting thing to do but you achieve an amazing result. They are two different jobs and ways to make art, both amazing and fascinating. I still love to make drawings with my pencils even if I never show them, I keep them for myself and often I mix the old fashioned style with the versatility of the digital art in a way to obtain something fresh and amazing. Art is always about experiments but if you have to work on album covers or other kind of commissioned work today, people want you to work in digital as the timelines are always frenetic and changes on the art must be done quickly, even a few minutes before the delivery of the final art — something that is impossible to do if you work with brushes. An old fashioned paint job is almost a take it or leave it, while an illustration with digital airbrush can be adjusted and perfected every time. It happened to me that a band wanted, after the art was already approved and only one day before the delivery, the main figure in the scene moved from the left to the right. How can you do that if not in digital?"


The-Warrior-Princess by Gaetano-Di-Falco

"The Warrior Princess" by Gaetano Di Falco



With such a crazy amount of talent and passion, we really should be seeing a lot more of Gaetano Di Falco's work in the business. Anyone wishing to contact him can visit his website at www.gaetanodifalco.com or www.gaetanodifalco9.wix.com/illustrations and send an email using the contact section or write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , where Gaetano will always respond very quickly . His website is the only place to see all his artworks and illustrations, and at the bottom of the page you can find a Facebook icon link to his personal profile. Any band looking for some quality artwork should head over there right now ...


Gaetano-Di-Falco Interview

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