Nick Jainschigg is a skull master, ex heavy metal album cover designer, and current Professor at Rhode Island School of Design.
The accomplished artist was recently commissioned by Henry Stone Music to create the art for the label’s newest signing, Little Pebbles’ album cover.
He came up with an iconic human skull with a halo effect from the crown of droplets shooting out like a a ton of little pebbles were dropped into it from above.
Here’s what Jainschigg had to say about working for Marvel Comics, painting Conan the Destroyer, and how he 3d modeled this artwork before he went at it with paint and brush. Check out this new music video to go with it!
Congratulations on the new Little Pebbles album cover!
Ahhhah thank you. I’m kind of psyched. The music sounds great. I wanna hear more of those guys stuff. C’mon, record it faster. I wanna hear it!
The cover is awesome, how’d you make it?
I had to come up with an idea and luckily enough I’ve been an illustrator now and teacher for something like 30 years. One of the the things the label wanted for the imagery was a little throwback to the 1980’s, which is when I did some of my first covers. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983 and started freelancing for Reiner Design, based in NYC, which i s where I’m from. Reiner was big. They won a Grammy for designing an incredible David Bowie box set cover. They would throw me jobs every now and again. I did some stuff for Dokken, a double live from Japan album cover and some limited edition box sets. I did some t-shirts for Slayer. That kind of thing. So I’ve got this kind of relationship with metal and album cover art. So I said, “You want an 80s look? I can’t do anything but that 80s look.” So I spent some time listening to the Little Pebbles music. It’s really gloomy. When Henry Stone Music sent me the first couple tracks I called and said, “Wow, sounds like you guys need a hug. ” The music is really kind of moody, but also inspirational. So there I am tryin’ to think Little Pebbles, Little Pebbles. What can I design? And then I think, skulls are really 80’s, and pebbles are sort of skull like, and I started playing with skulls and gravel, and that looked too much like the opening scene of the Terminator movie. So I said, what else? And I came up with the droplets of water. And so the combination of like the droplets of water, and that crown halo effect, and then the skull seemed like a fun idea. So I scratched it up, sent it to the label, and they liked it a lot.
In the old days you had to draw and draw until you got it right. Nowadays I use 3d modeling and rendering. I sculpted up a fluid simulation of a water droplet for a polygon model and merged it with another model of a human skull to see how light it and so on. And the I painted it up in opaque water color. Old fashioned media. Just brushes, water, paint. Very 80s.
Nowadays most of what I’m doing is interactive design. I’m a professor at Rhode Island School of Design. This was a great chance to work on something I haven’t done in a while. Old school painting.
You’ve done a lot of Sci Fi and comic book art work too, how’d you get involved with that?
I always loved sci fi. It started when I was growing up reading comic books like Conan the Barbarian type of stuff, and then went out to art school to paint that kind of thing, to be a cover artist and comics artist. When I graduated in 1983 I started taking my portfolio around. I went back to New York and got a day job, a bunch of different day jobs: everything from proofreading legal documents to working at book stores and poster shops. I would always get fired cause I was doing freelance illustration and painting till way too late and then I’d oversleep. I got work pretty quickly but I couldn’t live on it. First I started doing black and white interior art work for Sci Fi magazine. Then I graduated to covers. Then I had some friends at Marvel Comics, colorists and so on, and from visiting them I got to know the guys at Marvel in the 80s. A lot of people like John Buscema, Larry Hama. I was just hangin around the offices and they’d be like “Hey we need a cover for this thing….” and so I did Conan The Destroyer., Remo Williams. I got magazines. I got paperback book covers. And that’s how I supported myself for the better part of 15 or 20 years. Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek stuff. I did a lot of work for Star Trek comics, that kind of thing. Then in the mid 90s the publishing industry started to contract cause of the computer games, the rates for covers were just not there. Payment was declining, there wasn’t not enough of them. Online pubication wasn’t a thing yet. No market. So I started thinking to do something else. I turned to digital and learned 3d and a little bit of programming and a job opened up at RISD. I was also teaching some in order to support myself. I like teaching. I was teaching illustartaitn and traditional mediua, and they wanted someone with digital and old fashioned tradition. I can teach how to make a computer game, web presentation, CSS, JavaScrip, and midevil painting techniques.