At some point during 2016 I came across Luciana’s artwork and since then I wanted to do this interview with her. I instantly fell in love with her drawings/artwork, with the way she manages to create art for tortured souls. Her style is dark, creepy and it gives you an awkward sensation that someone’s gonna creep right behind you and something really bad will happen to you.
Luciana Nedelea, ScrollsofDarmoth’s first guest for 2017, is no stranger to the underground extreme metal scene and in this very interesting interview she reveals some of her (dark) secrets.
Read and enjoy!
1. Who is Luciana Nedelea, in the 1st place? I am pretty sure few people in Romania would have heard about you, myself included, if it hadn’t been for the internet. Please introduce yourself a bit to ScrollsofDarmoth and its readers.
First of all, thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to talk about myself and most importantly my work, I really appreciate it! And indeed, the internet was a blessing for me and it helped me connect with people all over the world.
As you well know I was born in Romania, north Transylvania, I am 27 years old, and have studies in 3 different fields: music (violin since the age of 7), art and archaeology/ancient history. I am currently a lecturer at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, and am also involved in different projects and pursuing a PhD in archaeology, ancient history and classical studies, and I hope to finalize my thesis in early 2017. The main subject is the Roman Empire and the roman province Dacia, with a special focus on a legionary fortress called Potaissa (economy/ancient pottery/the lifestyle of the roman soldiers).
In between my studies and other duties, I devote almost all my free time to art and working with musicians and artists from all over the world, which mostly means a lot of sleepless nights and sacrifices, but it is all well worth it and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything else.
2. When did you start drawing and when did you realize you wanted to do this for a living? Do you have any special artistic background?
I have always known that I was meant to create things and that I had a very artistic spirit. I also believe that it is very important to listen and to follow your calling and instincts, because we are all born to follow a certain path and design. If you ignore it, chances are that you will live a very unhappy life, and there is no one else to blame but you.
As a kid I would always draw on anything I would get my hands on, but it all really began after having a very strict and disciplined life starting with the age of 7, when I first went to a music school and did that for over 8 years. It is there where I had my first contact with artists, because it was a mixed school (art and music) and I was truly fascinated and attracted to their world. Even though I had very good results with music/violin, at the age of 15 I decided to switch schools from music, to art, which I then continued for the next 4 years of my life.
3. What media do you use for your artworks? What is your favorite? Have you ever used real blood when painting?
I mostly prefer acrylic and ink, and if it was up to me I would only use black and white for the rest of my life, because I think it suits me, my style and the themes which I love to depict in my work.
I have never used blood so far, though I must admit that it is a very attractive idea to me, and it’s been in the back of my mind for a while now, but since blood has a very special meaning and it is something very personal, I would rather wait and use that at a time when I can devote myself entirely to art and creating art for myself and not other people. It is however a very popular subject at the moment in the metal scene and a lot of artists use blood to create artworks, even for bands/their merch. For myself, blood creations enter more the sphere of the sacred and I wouldn’t just spill it on paper, paint something very common and that’s it, there has to be a bit of preparation and thought that goes into it, but that of course is purely my point of view.
4. Over the years you have developed a very interesting style, which has become your trademark. It is dark, morbid, with a pronounced touch of evil. Is this something the bands want from you or this is how you imagine things while listening to their music?
People that think alike, get together. I try mostly to work only with people that are educated on certain subjects and that aren’t amateurs. I would never paint something I wouldn’t be interested in, that wouldn’t speak to me, or something that would be against my beliefs.
It can be very morbid indeed, because humanity itself throughout history was morbid and I get my inspiration from it, but my focus isn’t on coming across as evil, or pertaining to any cults, organizations, or anything alike. My art is mostly a manifestation of my thoughts and belief systems, and it does touch the area of occultism, understanding the meaning of life and reaching out to other worlds. This is where my studies in the field of archaeology come in, because I do use a lot of my knowledge related to ancient cultures and history of religions, to create my artworks, and mostly a lot of the people that contact me do want advice and guidance on certain subjects and they trust me with it.
5. Do you need a special setting for creating your artworks? Do you isolate yourself from the outside world and create your own magic atmosphere? What do you like to listen to while you work?
I work at home, which I transformed into my own little temple. I love to surround myself with antiques, books, candles, incense, anything that will remind me of the beauty of times when people still took pride in enjoying a quality lifestyle and also being more in touch with the ‘other world’, grateful and never forgetting where your gifts and inspiration come from, and also giving back to ’it’. This is something that works very well for myself.
I mostly like to listen to atmospheric, ritualistic/sacred/folk music from areas like Asia Minor and Levant, to which I always felt a very strong connection to. Other genres that I love and live for are black metal and classical music, but in general I do listen to a lot of music, as long as it is quality music.
I also enjoy watching horror movies, crime/mystery/paranormal documentaries, etc. while working on art.
6. Can you mention a few artists (painters, illustrators etc) that may have had a strong influence on you?
I try not to be influenced too much by other artists because my main goal is to be able to stand out one day with an own style, which is however very difficult to do these days. If I was to name a few contemporary artists that I truly appreciate, those would be Santiago Caruso, David Herrerias, Kristian Wahlin/Necrolord, Alex Grey, etc. Regarding classical and modern painters, as a teenager I started out by studying and copying the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, Durer, Bruegel the Elder, Caspar David Friedrich, Munch, and others. I also love Theodore Gericault’s morbid anatomical studies. Of course there would be a lot more to discuss, but I will keep this brief.
7. Browsing through your portfolio, I was amazed to discover how many collaborations you have/had, mainly abroad. I have to be honest here, many of the bands you work with are quite unknown to me, even if my horizon is rather large, haha. How do you get in touch with them? Do they pick you or you pick them?
I started working with bands 3 years ago, and have worked with hundreds of bands so far, from all over the world. Indeed, most of these bands belong to the underground scene, or are bands that just now start out, but I also worked with very known bands like Dark Funeral, Ad Hominem, Ghost Bath, Nightbringer, Mare Cognitum, etc.
Most bands get in touch with me through my Facebook page, email, Instagram , or through references from other bands. I never contact bands or ask them to work with me, it isn’t my style and I prefer it when bands reach out to me because they like my work and feel that it speaks to them.
8. Have you had, until now, a collaboration with a Romanian band? Would you like to work with one?
I worked only with a few Romanian bands, but I am very happy to have had the opportunity to. I made the logo for Clitgore a few years ago, created several T-shirt designs for them, patches, bags, stickers, poster designs and the logo for Transylvanian Death Fest and other festivals/concerts in Romania. I also recently worked with a very talented young man that just started his new project Death In Reverse, for which I also created the logo and the cover illustration for his first EP ‘The Snow Forgot Its Color’, which is being released by Flesh Vessel Records.
9. What do you think a good artwork/cover/drawing must look like? Many bands use nowadays lots and lots of occult symbols, Latin texts and illegible logos. Is this a good thing or has it turned into a big cliché? Do you think in these cases music becomes less important than the packaging?
This is actually a very big issue these days. There are a lot of bands out there, especially in the black metal scene, that simply use image and certain ritualistic aspects related to ancient cultures, only to get the attention of people that are easily impressed, people that do not read and would rather watch a show and lie to themselves rather than putting some effort into research and doing things for themselves.
Over the years and after working with so many people, and please excuse my language, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s way too many idiots out there that hide behind what seems to be decent bands. I am against the whole new wave of bands that perform fake rituals on scene just for the sake of it, and pretend to be wise men that are somehow entitled to be worshiped. The scene is simply plagued with gimmicks, with people that do not read and are trying to find easy access to things that aren’t meant for lazy people, and I suggest that they read Apuleius- ‘The Golden Ass’ and take the moral of the story to heart. I also noticed that a lot of people when they contact me for artwork don’t know what they want or how to describe their work, what they stand for, and would love it for me/the artist to do all the work and to come up with something based on their lyrics and music, or sometimes nothing at all, or just a vague description. Some are very confused about what they want or think that if they tell me ‘draw me something occult and evil’ they described everything and are being very clever. These, are people I do not work with.
10. I assume that in order to work in this field, you must love music very much. How does music inspire your day to day life and your artistic life?
As I’ve already mentioned earlier, music has been a very big part of my life, I play violin since the age of 7, won several competitions throughout the years and have also played in the local orchestra when I was younger. I adore music and I couldn’t imagine a life without it.
11. What are your passions besides drawing? From your works one can assume you are very much into the occult and the dark arts. Do you like (and have time) to read? What books are you really into?
That is correct, I am very much interested in occultism, history of religions, ancient and early medieval history, art history, archaeology, philosophy, and I try to make everything work as one. I don’t see them as separate interests, everything I do in my life is connected, and they will create an end product by the end of my life. I don’t have as much free time as I would like, but I make time for everything I love and I am very serious about everything I do, and ready to devote all my effort and passion to it. Therefore, the books I read at the moment (besides the tons of books for my PhD) are mostly ancient and classical texts related to magic, defixiones/curse tablets, divination, religion, in the original languages if possible, and lately I’ve been very interested in Gnosticism and have been gathering information on most of the Gnostic gems that have been published and translated to this date.
Different to these subjects and more accessible to everyone, I’ve been reading books on serial killers, unsolved murders like The Hinterkaifeck case from Germany, 1922, and unsolved mysteries such as the Dyatlov Pass Incident (I have a small collection of books on the subject, which I can recommend to anyone interested).
12. Besides the album covers (for cd’s, tapes, Lps and shirts), you have artworks, standalone pieces which seem to reflect your feelings/moods (“Procession”, “Wandering Death” etc). They depict desolate, black and white landscapes, and the feeling is one of doom, of implacable end. Where do you take your inspiration from for these gloomy drawings?
Those are indeed artworks which I create for myself and I like to share them with people that have the same love for desolate landscapes, death, mystery, other-wordly manifestations as I do. Mostly they are images that I get in my head and I can’t really explain where they come from, I guess it is just a part of my personality.
13.You are featured in Darkadya Book vol II, alongside other famous artists like Thorncross(Chris Moyen), Christophe Szpajdel, Denis Forkas etc. Congratulations, for an artist this must be both an honor and an appreciation of your work. Please tell me more about this appearance and how you were selected in this “all-star” team.
I was very, very lucky to be a part of this book, which is now sold-out, and indeed as you’ve already mentioned many big names that activate as artists in the metal scene were featured in this second volume, and also let’s not forget Mark Riddick which was the special artist of the book. It all started when I was contacted by the Darkadya book editor, Lariyah Hayes and asked if I wouldn’t be interested in a collaboration, which was definitely a huge surprise for me and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity.
I also won the Darkadya ‘ Fan choice’ black star awards, which was another big surprise..I never expected so much positive feedback.
14. It is said that many people did this: musicians, composers, alchemists and even priests have, at some point during their life, made a pact with the devil in order to gain something. Would you do the same if you had something big to gain?
In my point of view and from what I have experienced so far in my 27 years, there is a pact and a very strong connection between us and everything around us and the energy that connects everything living and not living, since the day we are born, or items are created. You are given something, and must also return something at all times. We are all a part of what constitutes ‘god’, the ‘higher being’, the sacred, and the sacred is a part of us, we help ‘each other’ to continue evolving, and we are all one big living organism…you, me, the next planet, galaxy and so on. You are also given gifts, and this helps not only you and your spirit to evolve and move on to the next level, but also to create more energy which emanates from you and is sent out to help it grow. The thing is, that you can’t just relax and take what is given to you without being aware that something is helping you, without being grateful, and without doing certain movements/sounds (rituals if you wish) which in connection with our thoughts are sent out to that specific energy, as a small thank you. You are like a small dot in a network, that has to pulsate, to be aware and to be active. The Devil, Demons, Gods and other creations, are only manifestations of energy which are mostly connected to a certain sphere of creation, certain subjects that most people focus their attention on throughout centuries, etc, and you can tap into those specific energies that build up over time. Some people are more aware of these things and use it in their favor, some aren’t. This is how you get those so called ‘pacts’ which are either successful, or go really wrong if you abuse it.
It seems we have reached the end of our interview. I want to thank you again for doing this, Luciana, it means a lot for me and for ScrollsofDarmoth. As usual, my guests have the last words, so this is no exception.
Thank you so, so much once again for your patience and for this opportunity, it means very much to me and I wish you and your readers a wonderful and prosperous new year!