Englishman Shaun Histed-Todd is a Photographer and Digital illustrator, and I am sure you will find his work very interesting. He not only works on books but he also does CD artwork due to his strong bonds with music, as you will find out.
Tribe4mian: The first time I was looking at your work, I found “Fetch” and “The Explorer” stunning. Where are these images from and are you strictly a digital illustrator or do you also work with brushes too?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Thank you, “Fetch” and “The Explore” are two of my favorites and certainly seem to be the most popular. Most of the time with my illustrations, I will have an initial concept of an idea and the image will just develop in my mind so it’s just a case of bringing it out. Other times something will develop from a doodle. I use a program called ZBrush which allows me to model and sculpt characters out of digital clay. Once I have my character I move over to Photoshop to develop the background.
95% of my work these days is all created digitally as I really like the added depth and realism that can be achieve with it. One of my main regrets was letting my traditional skills sit to the side to long, when I took up digital art I thought my drawing skills was like riding a bike, once you know how to do it you will always be able to do it, unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I now find it a struggle to get the feel with pen and pencil. I say to myself I will pick up the brush and paints again one day, it’s just a case of re-practicing. I do still doodle and sketch in pencil, so it hasn’t completely gone.
Tribe4mian: I feel like your images are alive most of the time. Is there a hidden love for photography? Is there some special technique you use and do you have some special knowledge?
Shaun Histed-Todd: I’ve always had an interest in photography from my school days but had to wait till I was out and earning my own living before I got my first SLR camera from there it was a self learning curve, apart from a few night school courses in photography I’m self taught this is also the case with my artwork. I can’t say I have a special technique or special knowledge. Though having said that my stage photography, has took me awhile to get a technique that worked and I’m always learning and tweaking my knowledge there. I just like to capture the moment which is what photography is all about really, catching that momentary expression in a face or performance.
Tribe4mian: How did you get started? There is a lot of sci-fi, psychedelic colours, and gothic atmosphere in your work. What and who is influencing you?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well I’ve been drawing since a child as a pastime and as I stated above got into photography in my late teens again as a hobbyist. I’ve always looked for a different perspective in my art and photography, growing up in the post-punk scene always gave great character references, the weird and strange has always fascinated me. It’s been a long road to turn it into a profession, I’ve never had the business skills to sell myself well, but over time I’ve learnt from friends in business and hardened up a bit on my tactics and confidence.
I guess it’s fair to say that that I get inspiration and influence from a lot of literature that I read, the Unexplained – Lost and Ancient Civilizations – Magick / Shamanism – Quantum Theory – writers like Hunter S. Thomson and William Boroughs, Clive Barker probably had an influence on me at some point and Sci-Fi, though most of what I read these days is Non-Fiction.
A piece of music can throw an array of images in my head or even a song.
I get asked what artists or photographers I aspire to be influenced by, but can honestly say I don’t have a particular favorite, I see some great artwork by other artists and photographers and I can say I aim at achieving the same quality but not their style. To me that allows, me to create my own style and hope they show something original.
Tribe4mian: You are also doing the artwork for CD albums and posters for gigs. Which albums have you done so far ?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well this is a small area in my field of work and its one area I am always aiming to expand more into, as it combines my two passions Music and Art. Most recent CD was for a band called NightPorter from Newcastle in the UK and of course the NZG charity single. Prior to that I’ve produced artwork or photography for Sanguine (UK) Killing Miranda (UK) Sensorium (former members of Nephelim) and small local bands over the years. I used to produce a lot of art for Rave Clubs in the 90’s
Tribe4mian: Are musicians too demanding when it comes to your work or you’re free to do whatever you want? What about the rest of your clients?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Generally my experience with musicians has been positive, and I’m normally left to my own creativity. I always ask for a brief of what the client wants, so I have a fundamental angle on what’s being asked for, but after that they are happy for me to create freely. Other Clients I get work from are in the Corporate field (NHS or Retail organization), magazine and book publishers, one book that has just recently been published is Dead of Night by Lee Walker and I’ve just completed 18 images for an anthology book of cryptozoological horror stories for a writer by the name of Richard Freeman. I’ve done concept work for independent film directors.
Tribe4mian: What is your connection to Nosferatu, how did it start and what is your experience from traveling with bands?
Shaun Histed-Todd: My connection with Nosferatu, this is going back some years now, 20+ yrs to be more accurate. I was a roadie for them for a few European and UK tours and some memorable times. It started when I spotted an ad by them looking for a new singer and I was good friends with Niall Murphy, a talented singer and songwriter who was looking for a band to perform with. So I suggested he should apply for the role. He was a little reluctant at first I think that artistic confidence lacking we all seem to fall foul of at times. Anyway with a bit of pushing he eventually went for it, I knew he would be right for the job, he had a good voice on the Pete Murphy/Bowie side and a vibrant performer given the opportunity, and so the band clearly agreed as they got straight back to him and got him on board. As a way of thanks Niall, got me on the first tour as a roadie and that’s what I was till the original line up split.
I’m still good friends with Damian and occasionally chat with Niall, I haven’t seen or heard from Nigel for about 9 yrs, but would really like and hope to catch up again.
My experience in that time was brilliant, loved every moment of being on the road. I’m a very Sociable person so being out in a different country meeting new people and musicians seeing so many bands that where unheard of in the UK. It was also the inspiration that set me off on the path of stage photography. Would I do it again given the opportunity, definitely for the right band and commitments permitting. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity and to being in good company.
Tribe4mian: What is your all-time top 5? Which albums are landmarks in your life? For which artists would you like to create art work?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Landmark albums! Hmm let me think…Well I would say
- Adam and the Ants – Kings of the wild frontier- but then I was introduced to “Dirk wears white socks” which to me now is a classic piece of work and still stand out as a ground breaking album.
- Killing Joke – all albums….Ok if I have to pick one it would be “Extremities Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions” it’s edgy and full of Anx and angry energy in a powerful and passionate sense.
- Fields of the Nephilim - Dawnrazor – dark and atmospheric and I love that ghostly spaghetti western feel.
- Cardiacs – now I really can’t name one particular album, as each one is groundbreaking genius in their own right and each stand as a landmark in music to me.
- Fun^Da^Mental – Erotic Terrorism – This album opened me up to cross cultural music, and how fusing styles really does wonders- Asian Beats with Punk and industrial just wonderful.
Which artist would I like to do artwork for! I would be happy to do artwork for any artist, but I would have to say I would be honored to do something for my all time favorites Killing Joke.
Tribe4mian: You also host an internet radio show. Where can we listen to this show of yours and what can people expect? Your work doesn’t feel like you’re “The Carpenters” fan… Which bands influenced you?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Yes I started this by chance or accident after connecting up with Jet, who was DJ’ing on wicked spins radio. She made the suggestion to go for a slot, I was a bit “ Ah I don’t, never thought about doing Dj’in let along hosting a radio show…” my music tastes are quite varied and some very experimental, so wasn’t too sure if people would be up for what I would want to play.
But never one to turn away an opportunity and try my hand at something new I agreed, made contact with WSR and started The Snuff Monkey Show, in Jan 2011. However it appears there are lot of people out there who do have similar mixed tastes and have been looking for a show like mine.
Initially I kept it pretty much to playing artists I knew people where familiar with old goth / punk alt rock classics, but only the ones I felt that pioneered their own sound and styles. I’ve continued the path but now will play any artist that will step out from the crowd and do their own thing. To me that’s what music is all about, defining your own signature sound no matter what genre they come from. Bands like Psychic TV – Cardiacs – Fun–Da-Mental – Bauhaus – Sicknote – Moira Scar – Dead Skeletons, I’ll venture into the realms of Dub or Psych rock a bit of Rap, but with most of the artists I play you will notice that no other band sounds like them. For this reason I term my show Genreless, and people can tune in to the show every Sunday 6 PM (UK) at www.wickedspinsradio.org
Tribe4mian: What about Wicked Spins Radio? What is so special about this radio station?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Now if becoming an online Radio Host was a new step in direction for me, then becoming a co owner of WSR along with my wife Karen AKA Mrs Monkey and Jet Away who initially got me started on this. Well that was something I don’t think either of us expected. But in Oct 2011, the former owners Kirsty and Chris, offered us the station as they could no longer dedicate the time to it with busy lifestyles.
So this is another new chapter in my life, and again one I’m proud to be part of and very grateful for the opportunity.
WSR has been set up and running as a Rock Metal station for the past 4-5 years with a lot of success, we aim to keep this tradition but we want to bring other elements of music into it, real music for real people shall I say as long as it’ not mainstream. Alt rock – EBM – Dubstep – 70 – 80’s -90’s Nostalgia – Psych / Space rock – Dub and Ska.
We have a list of great shows already and more starting from January 2012.
Tribe4mian: You are attending gigs all the time. Can you name your top 3?
First that comes to mind was Dead Can Dance, 6 years ago at The Forum in London, I’d waited a long time to catch them live and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, the who show was captivating and hearing Lisa Gerrad’s voice was sublime to hear live.
Killing Joke on their 1st re-formation of their original line up ( Yes of course KJ had to be in the top 3) even though I’ve not walked away from Joke gig without feeling well rewarded, I have to say I felt this show in particular topped them all for me, they kicked out the tunes with such fever, I danced through the whole set, which I hadn’t done for a band in many years.
My 3rd choice I think I will have to say would be my first Cardiacs gig right back in the summer of 89, I didn’t know much about them at the time, and had only heard some tracks played by a very good friend Johnny, who was the one said we had to go and see them. I’m am so glad we did because it opened me up to a whole new spectrum of what music and performance can and is about.
I will always remember thinking during their set, “Are these people on day release from an institution” because their performance was just so manically insane bursting with pure energy, tight perfect and genius songwriting. That one show has had me hooked on them ever since, and every other show I attended of theirs was equally on par. But that first exposure to them was the Key.
But see I want to also add The Mathew Ashman Celebration last year, with Cheifs of Relief – Agent Provocateur – Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant, as to get to see all these bands on the same bill was one of chance. Adam, played a full punk set and was joined on stage by Will Crewdson and David Ryder Prangley of Rachel Stamp and Boz Boorer and were perfect for the night. To me it felt as close to seeing what the original Antz would have been like.
Tribe4mian: Do you believe art is a medicine for one’s soul? Do you believe each one of us has a special talent that we have to discover or is it just some people that have something special? Are the artists the shamans of this world ?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Yes I think art is a strong remedy for the soul, if I ever feel low or a bit down, which is rare for me really, but if I do, sitting down and getting creative certainly helps me to clear any negative thoughts. I do believe we all have some hidden talent in us, the subconscious seems to be geared up to be creative and it just a case of sitting down and allowing your consciousness to communicate with the inner companion.
Not sure how to answer about if artists are the shamans of the world!! Shamans are artists of the Psych, with the ability to go into other plains of reality and higher consciousness with their techniques. I suppose it could be said that an artist does the same, if they are a musician a melody can take the player and listener on to similar realms, and I’m sure playing live can bring about an altered state of consciousness as so with a visual artist. The Visual artist launches themselves into their minds to see new alternative worlds for which we paint so in theory we are all psychonaughts.
Tribe4mian: Compared to the music scene of past decades, what do you think of the music scene of today?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Different…!! The scenes that I grew up with (Punk/Post Punk/Goth) were very artistic and experimental, it was fresh and people would go out of their way to look different and if you where in a band you wanted to sound different as well. There are bands in the UK that still continue this trend like Sicknote – Cold in Berlin – The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – The Shanklin Freakshow – The Unkindness of Ravens -Ulterior –just to name a few. Who have created their own individual sound and scene, as long as there is an underground music there will always be fresh sounds. So currently it’s looking healthy, and hopefully will continue to produce more original and creative artists.
Tribe4mian: One day I was writing about Michael Moorcock and I came up with the idea that sci-fi literature blossomed during WW2 as the writers found fantasy to be a hideout from harsh reality. What would you prefer: Fantasy or reality and why? Can we make this world a better place?
Shaun Histed-Todd: Well that all depends upon a person’s perspective of what is reality!! In a Quantum sense our waking reality is just an illusion the mind generates out of the chaos of energy and our fantasies and dreams are the true reality. But we could go down a rabbit hole with that one.
Personally I like to keep myself in both, that way at least I’m in touch with one real world, whichever way it really is… LoL
Can we make the world a better place! Yes I believe we can, I like to think that keeping positive thoughts about everything can and will bring positive change especially on a mass level. The problem I see is that our society is geared up to accept and think negatively, by being told by our media outlets all the bad things that are going on in the world and our neighborhoods. So we need to break free from this negative thinking and start looking for the positive. Because wherever there is a negative there is always a positive, the ying and yang. I hope that makes sense, it does in my mind anyway.
Tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview Shaun.
Shaun Histed-Todd: It’s been a pleasure! Thank you for asking me.
More information about Shaun Histed-Todd can be found here.