From the production stable of Roger Corman , 1982’s Forbidden World (aka Mutant) delivered an Alien inspired tale – oozing with both gooey gore and sci fi scares. Low on budget but big on schlock, the film gained cult status due to its camp violence, gratuitous female nudity and the syrupy synthesized soundtrack courtesy of Susan Justin. Turing the original masters into delicious 180 grams of vinyl – Death Waltz commissioned London’s Kimberley (aka The Holla) Holladay for the coverart – an artist who’s swift penmanship was ideal for capturing the macabre marrow of the film.
Unlike the majority of artwork commissions contracted by the label, it was Holladay who extended her hand to tango with Death Waltz. “I got involved in the project for Death Waltz Records after approaching Spencer [Spencer Hickman – manager for both Mondo Records & Death Waltz Recording Co.] in regards to doing some artwork for the label, I had been collecting the titles and really liked what he did” reflects Holladay . “I hadn’t seen the Forbidden World before speaking to Spencer, he asked for a list of music and films I liked and also to see my style of work so he could fit a title he thought would suit me. Spencer suggested the film and I went ahead and watched it before deciding whether I’d be interested in drawing the artwork. I loved the music and movie and really got a feel for it before I begun work on creating a drawing for the cover.”
Before branching out and creating vicious vinyl visuals of her own, Holladay’s artistic roots stem from an appreciation of older artists within the cover art genre. “My influences growing up in school doodling in class came from music covers and hot rod art” she explains. Frank Kozik, who did the art design for The Offspring’s Americana album stood out to me. Artists like Tara Mc Pherson had a similar approach to myself where she drew for bands she liked and approached them, I think that’s important to be enthusiastic about a project and go after it because you’re passionate. I also loved Kustom Kulture hot rod art – Big Daddy Roth was a massive inspiration as well as the skate scene of artists. I have been told my work has a similar feel to R.Crumb who I also like. There are so many artists work that is inspirational!”
Tackling the concept of extraterrestrial surrealism through creepy ink craftsmanship – Holladay made sure she understood and acknowledged the nuances that made the film a cult favorite before undertaking the project. “Before starting the drawing for Forbidden World I watched the film a couple of times and wrote down lines I liked that stuck in my mind and made the film stand out to being a cult classic” informs Holladay. “Repetition of patterns, shapes and memorable scenes were important to make the artwork feel like it belonged to the sound and feel of the film. It was important to see what made Forbidden World appeal to it’s fan base, I also wanted to get across why I enjoyed it too.”
Explaining the modus operandi in regards to her approach, Holladay notes “the process for the cover drawing was similar to how I usually work. I like to find scenes I enjoy most in films to draw rather than finding reference from the internet of the same pictures people usually come across when typing films into a search engine. I like using elements of realism but with a graphic feel to make them stand out and be more in your face. My style over the years has swayed towards working in black and white and finding different ways to shade using marker pens which I enjoy. I have a VFX background working on computers for film which i enjoy but working away from a machine and on paper is a refreshing thing, I think it works well when designing artwork for music as it brings back memories of making mix tapes and drawing cool cover art.”
“Spencer was great and let me have freedom in my ideas” she continues. “ I showed him two rough sketches i had done but he encouraged me to just rock out a design with no restrictions which made Death Waltz a great company to work for, it was nice knowing that all the artists work I’d seen in the past came from the artist and not a strict guide line.”
Taking a lo-fi black and white approach to the Forbidden World project – Holladay’s ink illustration is a great balance of sophistication and chaos. Bubbling over into the white border, Justin’s typography is an intricate and aerated use of font – cradling the centerpiece image immaculately within its wall of text. The mutating character showcases a blend of detailed fine lines and graphic comic book style brutality – highlighting the savagery of the film with agonizing and intricate intensity.
“I used Copic Marker pen to draw the artwork – it is my pen of choice” informs Holladay. I really enjoy working with fine liners and love how much detail you can get from the fine markers. Some of my favourite things to draw are splatter and hair so they are great for that, easy for dot shading and drawing strands of hair. My choice of paper is a medium thickness with a little texture, I drew to the scale of the record sleeve so I knew exactly how it was going to look. The drawing took about 5-7 days in totally to do.”
Standing out amongst the labels other offerings, Forbidden World added a much needed shade of grey to Death Waltz’s colorful catalogue. “The end result of the Death Waltz project for Forbidden World was great!” reflects Holladay. “The drawing was made into a big pull out poster for the record and came in 3 different coloured vinyl, my favourite being the black with silver glitter which i requested to make it look like deep space and stars!”
Splashes of avant-garde splatted together with menacing synths – Death Waltz once again do horror enthusiasts a service by placing another cult classic on the record shelf. Drawing the eye in with a stark colorless quality – Kimberley Holladay’s grotesque visual aberration mixes highly detailed portrait aspects with extreme cartoon violence, complementing both the film and Susan Justin’s sinister soundtrack with aplomb.
Peace to Kimberley (aka The Holla) Holladay for helping out with this piece. Let Forbidden World ooze across your speakers by picking up a copy from Mondo/Death Waltz Records. You can also purchase the soundtrack, other Death Waltz swag at Kimberley & Spencer’s brick and mortar store/art gallery Transmission Records. To see The Holla’s stunning portfolio check out her Official Page, Facebook and Instagram