Interview with Hammerblaze Artist: Aldo Requena
If you haven’t yet familiarized yourself with Aldo Requena, you are in for a treat. Not only is he an exceptional artist with a penchant for all things horror–he’s also a fascinating guy as this interview will show. Get ready to feast your peepers:
I have an affinity with what’s beyond our reality, which demands complexity of design and analysis. I have an interest in myths, science and the occult. The mystery of the unknown and supernatural offer me a proper playground for studying other worlds and instigate the human psyche without restriction. When you create a surreal piece, you aren’t limited by the conception of our reality. You can deform it into something else. Then the depiction can become intense, dramatic and oppressive but also romantic and seductive. Whether is macabre, fantasy or sci-fi, I like to embellish my creations with an obscure essence. However, I never consider my illustrations to be spooky; that’s only people’s perception. I’m just an explorer, a vessel of my talents. I do admit that I possess a varied set of design skills and emotional triggers that allows me to navigate different realms. But it’s mostly my Art that leads the way. I guess from an anthropological point of view, you can blame my early days as a child. I used to be in contact with biology and strange books, skulls and other stuff. I even had a great-grandfather who was into black magic. So I think it is a combination of different elements, including my natural opposition to religious doctrines. In a poetic term, my creativity is like a pulse of existence, I command, to shake the earth and move the suns.
It’s a very active scene; we have many great artists here in Argentina working in different fields and international enterprises – art, photography, music, films, animation, you name it. Thanks to the massive explosion of pop culture and social media, a lot of projects and events are taking place. On May 2, I had the privilege to exhibit my work at the 42º International Book Convention in Buenos Aires (Feria Internacional del Libro) during an event hosted by “Cultura Metalica” (Metallic Culture), a local organization that promotes the artistic work produced within the heavy metal community in our country. I have also had the honor to be invited to promote my work at the Jousting Show & Medieval Market in the city of Gräsfnäs (Sweden) on July 1 and 2 (organized by Kerstin Stråhlesköld). Not to mention, many of my friends and partners in bands also reach their audience beyond the frontiers of our land; such is the case with Skiltron, Feanor, Mathras, Naufragant, Interceptor and many others. For me, it’s very flattering to witness how our work can attract so much international attention, but it’s also evident that our hard work is being taken seriously. It means we are doing something good. I personally operate as a modern Viking sailing the waves of destiny to conquer foreign lands. So do my countrymen.
THW: Who came up with the phrase “Creativity Against the Norm;” I love it! What does it mean to you?
I did. “Creativity Against The Norm” is my artistic war cry in opposition to the status-quo. It’s a representation of the creative force within and the fight of Art to prevail against the doctrines and moral codes of society (The Norm). In a deepest analysis, when the creative spirit is lost, the vicissitudes of life can mortify the sign of prime creation. It’s not by the cards of destiny that actions occur. But by our own hands and determination any results are possible. There is no savior or secret formula. There is no valid excuse. No man, woman, beast, demon or god to trust. There is only the faculty to transcend the limits of one-self by maximum personal effort. Understand this: every fundament and moral concept from our history was conceived by deceivers with the sole purpose to control and suppress our capacity for individual existence and rational thinking. If the common ethical model is “Not Think but Follow,” any radical opposition that attempts to neglect the established order shall embrace one valid credo: “The Uprising of Will”. For Creativity to prevail, it is necessary to achieve a Non Serviam mental attitude of rejection Against the Norm. Any criterion that’s not true to our distinctive nature is an implicit restriction to the decree of the Over-Will. Furthermore, the supreme principles that govern perseverance for one’s dreams shall be always in disagreement with the mundane habits of society. Even if one walks through the edge of misery and insanity, the path to wisdom and mastery resides in the sacred solitude of self-discovery. It’s only there where the real magic presents itself and the inner-voice is heard (the voice of your calling in life, your talent); enlightening the flame of zeal from which the mind endures and rises in disobedient discontent against the world. Thus, accepting that genuine creativity originates through chaos, I rise from my ruins to create and destroy alike.
The road to self-development can be a venture populated by vulturous creatures; who intend to exploit idiosyncrasies and prejudices that compromises the direction of cultural and personal creativity. When parameters of ignorance convey misuse necessities, Art itself has no value. It’s absurd to assume otherwise. Art is a weapon, a gateway of freedom, a direct connection to primal realities to explore the deepest corners of the mind.
So, “Creativity Against The Norm”, in simple terms, is a giant FUCK-OFF to the hypocrisy of the world.
THW: Some of your art involves existing characters like Cthulhu or Wolverine. What inspires you to give your artistic treatment to a character?
I’m glad you like my treatment of those characters. When I recreate a renowned character my main approach is bringing to light something that other artists never did. It’s a human tendency to emulate what others do. That’s a pattern to break. I also insert something of myself onto each design; an illustrative trademark signature, a codestyle or whatever you wanna call it. Something that people could recognize the illustration like mine. Because all these popular characters you see around, they all contain the code of the original creator and artists that came after. So you have to put something extra-different to make it valuable. It’s like when a band cover another band’s song, they do it on their style. Let’s take Cthulhu for example: how many times did you actually see this elder entity recreated with the classic octupus’s head? Unbelievably uninspiring… This creature is supposed to be an extra-dimensional organism. It cannot look like a simple octopus from under the sea. That’s why my version is morbid and unbalanced from our biologic perception. I like to think that I made true honor to his creator’s vision… Wolverine, Cthulhu and similar beings can be easily recoded to my aesthetic vision. However others demand a different treatment. Nevertheless, it’s all a visual language that can be reinterpreted. I work with what’s in synchronicity with my matrix spectrum and can be integrated to my mental zone, style or whatever.
Hammerblaze Designs, or simple Hammerblaze, is my multifaceted enterprise of art. It started in 2008, as my design studio and artistic signature for developing artwork illustration and graphics in the diverse industries of music, advertising and publishing. We mostly work with bands, labels, independent artists and web publications from the heavy and extreme music arena. We work with people from all over the world on album artwork, merch, tour campaigns and more. Nowadays, Hammerblaze is becoming more than just a design platform to slowly cover different productions and even artistic representation. Essentially, Hammerblaze was generated as a creative weapon to satisfy my artistic demands and those from our partners. As a symbiotic entity, the studio expands according to our artistic needs.
My working process varies greatly; it can be a very controlled habitat or mayhem. It depends on the amount of work, complexity of design and style. Most of the time, everything begins with a simple idea that is roughly sketched for visual purposes. Once there the main piece begins to take form. I let the work flows by own will and the happy accidents to occur. Even though, I have an idea of what I want, it’s mostly the image itself that guides me. I work better in reclusion and I lost human contact when I am in extreme creative trance. When my mind is in matrixmode and I am processing a lot of information, I can become irritable if I am interrupted by outsiders from my circle. I prefer to work during nocturnal hours when most of the mortals are sleeping.
THW: Is there someone in particular that you’d like your work to be seen by? Who?
H. P. Lovecraft.
THW: What’s on your music playlist while you create art?
I’m a Metal Warrior so you can find a lot heavy and extreme music in my arsenal. But also rock, ambient, synthwave , film/game soundtracks, Celtic/Norse folk and anything dark and epic that can stimulate my mind.
I adore Penny Dreadful. I didn’t watch many episodes of American Horror Story to provide a proper observation. I liked The Strain, the second season was better. I’m enjoying more Fear Of The Walking Dead than The Walking Dead lately. I enjoyed the over the top-sarcastic-nonsense of Znation. I personally liked a lot True Detective (the first season being the best). I quit Salem, not because it was a bad show, my mind was simply not there. In terms of shows and movies, I am very selective when it comes to horror. It must possess the proper dose of suspense and dark ambience. I have a personal love for dark space terror or anything post-apocalyptic like Terminator, Mad Max, Alien, Event Horizon, Dark City, Hellraiser I & II, Pandorum, The Thing (Carpenter) stuff like that are my visual oasis.
THW: You’ve got a book coming out soon. Give us the scoop!
Thank you for asking! At the moment I can only reveal that “Mystic Rituals” is an art book that will compile most of my dark art; featuring nightmare surreal beings, nihilist illustrations and hypnotic writings. Except for the cover and some images, you won’t find many vibrant colors like on my band works. This first edition of “Mystic Rituals” will be mostly occultist, while future versions will explore other realms like sci-fi, cyberpunk or whatever happens to be on my mind at that time. The release date is yet to be confirmed but we estimate sometime in July. I’ve been asked for something like this for ages before Yog-Sothoth would dominate the cosmos. I have faith-followers of my work who especially prefer my dark stuff, and we hope we can please their expectations for their visual pleasure. “Mystic Rituals” is especially designed for all of them. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the unconditional support of many people, who in their own particular way, contribute to my actions as an artist. I don’t have fans, I have allies of might.
At the moment, I’m also focusing with Flash-Back 2029, which is a musical project of synthwave with a post-apocalyptic and retro-cinematic feeling from the 80’s. I co-produce this machinery with a partner and friend of mine that goes by the name of Shades O’Brien (Composer/Music Producer). Our first EP “The Dark Years” was released a couple of months ago and it’s purely inspired in The Terminator movie (1984). The EP is receiving very good feedback worldwide and we are already starting to engineer the phase 2 (no release date yet). It’s important to mention that despite the fact that Shades is the composer and I am mostly the visual creator, we both assist and consult each other in the direction where we want our time machine to travel. We share an artistic vision and goal. We see Flash-Back as a studio project more than just a musical band with normal musicians who battle for ego presence. The main characters in Flash-Back are the music and story. We are simple a bridge for the audience to be in touch with a new world of magic.
Follow us at:
Other than that, I am writing a couple of stories. But I can’t reveal anything. I have other projects in development that I will be exposing when they become relevant.
I don’t know what it means to break it into the industry. I just follow my heart with tenacity. I can only say: do what you feel is right. Work hard and opportunities will appear. Don’t be a douchebag. Pay attention to those who genuinely try to help you and have a real perspective in the business. See what the ancient masters did and understand the how and why. However, when you encounter assholes in your way, don’t bother in wasting your time and anger in trying to find the head in those worms who have a rectum on either end. Think positively and take your work seriously. But also find time for enjoyment, do some physical activity, have fun and sex and all that shit or whatever can give you a escape zone from life’s misery. The most important thing is to practice, practice and practice. Explore your limits without compromises. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Fear ain’t your foe but your ally to win.
THW: What’s the best way for fans to reach out to you?
THW: Thanks so much!
In gratitude to you guys for this interview and interest in my work.
Be true to your own spirit. Deny mortality.
Sharpen Up The Steel!