When I started the whole SBM thing back in 2013, all I had in mind was black metal promotion. I didn’t have that vision of promoting visual art and other stuff related to the dark side of life. In time, however, things changed. I guess my vision has broadened and many ideas started flowing. For instance, artist interviews was among the first. How cool would be to get into the mind of an artist whose work decorates our favourite CDs? To see, understand and follow along the process of how an artist grows and becomes an extraordinary creator of visuals that speak a thousand words. In this sense, I’d like to present the first artist interview with Jeff Grimal (The Great Old Ones & Spectrale).
Note: TGOO is an abbreviation for The Great Old Ones.
Howdy, Jeff! Great to have you on SBM. In this blitz interview, I’d like to get to know better your artistry and share the insight with our followers. Let’s start with your visual art. When did you first start drawing?
I started drawing very young, in fact as far as i can remember, i have been drawing, it’s a real passion, but i really put myself into since 7 or 8 years. I did a History of Art and Study School of the great masters in the 90’s at Bordeaux. I think this school no longer exists and it’s a shame, because it was an excellent and solid teaching. I started making music and playing in bands at the same period , for years I’ve done concerts and touched several styles with Tormenta and his psyche metal or The Great Old Ones and his lovecraftian black metal. Besides, it is with the latter that I was able to gather graphic arts and music. It allowed me to reach a wider audience and make me known as a painter and musician.
It’s common that many young artists struggle to grasp the ideal opportunity to make a living with their art for a whole plethora of reasons. For one, some won’t get support from their loved ones; moreover they get opposed, which often leads to changing their career vision. In this sense, could you share how was it with you while growing as an artist?
I always had the support of my relatives and some friends, my mother is a musician and it is her who pushed me to continue my passion. How many times have I doubted or stressed about my abilities. She has always been there to support and motivate me.
Throughout the years, you’ve accumulated quite a bit of artworks, mostly coated by a dark & mystical aura. Please, share who or what is among your most influential sources that pushes you in the direction you’ve undertaken?
My sources of inspiration are varied. It can be a moment of life, or a music. But to give you an example and my way of working: When it’s for a band the inspiration comes naturally by listening to their music or with their directions. When it’s a personal work, I let myself be guided by my instinct, it’s much more introspective and meditative. Mostly often I am in a kind of a bubble out of time and space. It’s like automatic writing. In fact I have the same mechanism with music.
For TGOO, I created a lot with oil painting, often with lots of layers to highlight some relief to have this sprawling side just as if the canvas was going to explode. I ritualized a lot on this work. When I talk about ritualizing, I do not mean doing a pentagram and incantations, no! I mean to put myself in a certain meditative state, where I gave a darkest part of my being to the canvas. It took me a long time to remove that primitive, dark side, and I think Spectrale helped me a lot with its bright, more “positive” side.
I guess I am not gonna be mistaken if I call you a traditional artist. It seems to me that you value more the idea of getting dirty with real paint, splashing those colours on an art board rather than working in the digital medium. What do you think about digital vs traditional art in general?
So I also use digital for the colorization of certain drawings for album covers or t-shirt designs. It’s really a great tool and I like to mix the two. You really have endless possibilities with Photoshop. I think that traditional art must learn to coexist with new media and new forms of digital art. Being able to draw is a big plus for digital painting (for example) because it involves some identical faculties.
For example, one can very well create colourful and textured surfaces with oil or acrylic paint, digitize them and then make a composition on the computer. The opposite is also true. You can create a digital work, print it on watercolor or photo paper, and add acrylic paint or felt lines.
What are the pros and cons of both of the mediums in your opinion?
I find that in digital painting, the appearance may seem too smooth, lack of relief (especially for beginners). The absence of smells, tactile experiences and body movement may be lacking for artists accustomed to traditional mediums. But as I explain above we can really mix the two. It’s really a creative laboratory!
Speaking of artistic approaches, your gallery offers a variety of hand-drawn & painted artworks. However, what’s the one that you are most comfortable with?
I think I’m more comfortable in painting, I have more facilities and I’m faster with oil painting. Classic drawing requires a lot of patience and mastery. I spend two months on a drawing while I sometimes finish a painting in 30 minutes.
Now, allow me to step away from your gallery and focus our attention on the current state of art. How do you see perceive “avant-garde” artistic expressions like that flat blue canvas that was sold for 43 million dollars?
For me it is not art but a trick, it has no point in my eyes.
Note: Out of respect, I have not featured that “painting”.
It has always been subjective to define what really art is but still, what’s your take on this? Where would you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable forms of workmanship?
Art represents a large part of my life; an extraordinary joy! Art is a discourse, rather an interview, a dialogue; all my life I talked to Art! It is also the way you see the reality around you: objects, elements of nature, a landscape, a building etc … .. anything, everything can be beautiful! I think there is no limit in art!
Apart from your visual work, you’ve also taken a huge part in the development of the prominent black metal act The Great Old Ones. I came to the news that you parted ways with the band as of January 2018. Was it a tough decision to make after all these years of involvement?
Yes, it was a difficult but important decision. I had wanted for a while to work only on my musical projects Spectrale and Demande à la Poussière. Spectrale is an acoustic project, the first album was released by french label Les Acteurs De L’Ombre in December. Demande à la Poussière is a project with Krys Denhez from the band Omrade and Edgard Chevalier (Wurm) and we play post metal. But, to return to TGOO, I stayed on very good terms and I will continue the artworks for the band.
Meanwhile, I’ve been following your acoustic project Spectrale, which by the way continues to grow on me after every play-through. What do you have in store for it in the future?
Simply make concerts, have a good time! And especially compose the second album, Spectrale at first was a solo project but the idea of live made me want to make a real band. The band now consists of Xavier Godard (ex TGOO), Leo Isnard (TGOO) and Raphael Verguin (Psygnosis).
Alright Jeff, let’s wrap things up. Thank you for your time!
Thank you for the interview!