Printmaking, Illustration & Design by Glyn Smyth, All images courtesy Glyn Smyth.
Dark Art & Craft recently had a chance to talk with Belfast, Northern Ireland-based artist and printmaker Glyn Smyth. Smyth utilizes Art Nouveau stylings and realistic rendering to bring his esoteric themes to life. We have admired Smyth's album and print work for some time now and had a chance to discuss a few topics and themes with the artist.
For those that don’t know, can we have a brief intro and what type of art you produce?
Glyn Smyth: Basically, I'm a full-time artist, designer, and printmaker working under the studio moniker of Stag & Serpent. Over the last decade or so, I have worked primarily in the field of music related illustration (posters, album covers, merchandise, etc), mainly for underground “heavy” bands in various genres. Whilst still fielding commissions, at the moment I'm endeavoring to set aside more time for work related to my interests in myth, magic, and folklore. I utilize both traditional and digital tools in my workflow. I enjoy the freedom afforded by digital media, but stylistically I would say I'm primarily influenced by vintage illustration, design and printmaking.
What art or style are you currently working in?
GS: Right now, I'm working on a couple of album packages for different artists: one "metal" and one "folk." Both require a different approach both in terms of artistic approach and subject matter. Stylistically these vary between a quite stylized vintage "Jugendstil"-inspired image, whilst the other is a highly-detailed, arguably more contemporary pen and ink style. I like to experiment with technique and approach frequently. I feel this helps the growth of ideas and avoids stagnation. The nature of the project tends to dictate the stylistic approach as a rule, but I think there are certain factors that remain consistent with me in terms of basic composition and subject matter.
The Irrepassable Gate (2016). Original illustration for US Black-Metal band Ash Borer (Profound Lore Records).
Thanatos (2014). Illustration commissioned by NYC metal band Tombs.
Many of your works include occult or dark themes. Do you consider these central to your work?
GS: I would agree that there are recurring "occult" themes in my work, though I don't really view my own work as particularly "dark" overall. I feel there's a lot of light in there also. I have what is essentially a very gnostic worldview. I'm wary of any kind of orthodox belief system or worship of deity, but I certainly have a preoccupation with certain types of symbolism in regard to ritual, duality, and "the divine" for want of a better word.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
GS: I'm an early riser and I'm usually at the drawing table or computer just after 8 a.m. I plan out the day the night before so I always know exactly what I need to do, whether it's drawing, research, or answering mails. I'm a creature of habit for the most part. For general inspiration, I always make sure I have at least two or three books on the go at once and I take constant notes which usually help inform later works. The actual artwork creation process can itself become a kind of ritual, particularly if it's time consuming or I'm trying to grapple with something on a conceptual level. On a psychological level, you can find yourself in some strange places when you finally step back from the work.
Morrigan (2016). Limited edition print for "Goddess" exhibition for Indonesian art collective World's End.
Is your work inspired by your locale?
GS: Very much so. Whilst this influence isn't always evident in commercial or client work, I'm increasingly drawn to my immediate surroundings for inspiration and artistic sustenance! Ireland is geographically small, but mythically dense. There is no certainly no shortage of local legend and lore to draw from—a lot of it quite dark in nature—and I will be exploring this more fully in a long term personal project entitled "Shadow Of The Fort."
What role do you feel the artist has in society?
GS: A huge question. There are different types of art that fulfill different needs, I guess. There's a long and energetic history of art in a revolutionary and social movement context that can't be ignored or trivialized. For me personally, art is at its most potent when I feel it communicates a "truth"—something innate and seemingly eternal. To foster empathy with others by attempting to depict that which is liminal but known to all. In this respect, I'm merely echoing what the symbolists said over a hundred years ago. In this current era of "post-truth" and "alternative facts" this still seems like a worthwhile ambition—an attempt to illuminate the darkness so to speak.
Lynched, Cold Old Fire.
Doom Over Leipzig (2015). Screen printed poster design for music festival in Leipzig, Germany.
Celestial Art Print.
Where else can we find you?
GS: Thanks for the interview! You can find me on the web at:
Our Flame Returned.
Work for Fyrnask.