• Artist Editions: Florian Bertmer X UO

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited edition graphic t-shirts created by a rotating roster of artists from around the globe. 

    Illustrator Florian Bertmer is renowned throughout the metal world for his intensely detailed album artwork. We visit Florian's Long Beach studio to take a look at his new work for our Artist Editions series.
    Photos by Andrea Mattaresse 

    Originally born in Germany, Bertmer has created work for bands like Converge, Napalm Death, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Pig Destroyer and many more. His macabre works are defined by their close attention to detail and a style that combines the doom and gloom of Pushead with the opulence of Art Nouveau. Intricate latticework patterns blossom around skeletons, demons, and occult figures figures.

    Bertmer’s work exemplifies the rich history of metal iconography, and pushes it to new heights. Its detailing creates beautiful worlds in which the viewer can become lost. Its a distinctly dark vision of psychedelia that both invites the eye and repulses. It’s this dissonance that becomes so striking, and that works in such congruity with the abrasive, blistering, yet monumentally beautiful music for which he creates artwork.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 
    My name is Florian Bertmer and I was born and raised in Münster, Germany but I now live in Los Angeles, CA.

    What’s the first thing you can ever remember making? 
    One of the first drawings made as a kid was a drawing of Skeletor and Han Solo and Chewbacca. Monsters and outsiders always fascinated me and that hasn't changed.

    What does a normal day in the life look like for you? 
    I usually wake up around 6am with my wife. Then I make some coffee while she gets ready for work. At around  7am I take our dog for a quick spin and after that I open my laptop and catch up on emails. Between 9 and 10am I start sketching to loosen up the hand for work and around 11:30am I start working on current projects which I will continue to do untll 6pm with two dog walks squeezed in. Because my wife has a long commute to work I make dinner each night so around 6:30 I am cutting vegetables and stuff. After dinner I relax and catch up on the day with my wife and around 11pm I do some more work till about 12:30. Then sleep and repeat.

    Your illustrations include an incredible amount of detail— how long would you say each one takes? 
    There is no ballpark number but they usually take a few days and the bigger pieces several weeks. Because there is a lot of detail in my work I have to take great care when inking a piece. Every line has to be as perfect as possible.

    You’ve created work for some iconic bands, from Napalm death to Converge to Agoraphobic Nosebleed. When did you first get into heavy music? What attracted you to it? 
    I must have been around 10 or 11 when I got my first metal record which was Iron Maiden's "Can I play with madness" 12" single. Heavy music always felt more intense and sincere than what was on the radio plus they usually had some cool monster on the cover. 

    When did you get your first break in terms of music illustration? 
    I started doing smaller illustration jobs for my friends bands around 1998 and my first legit record cover work was for the Converge/ Agoraphobic Nosebleed split lp around 2000.

    Do you play in any bands yourself? 
    Hahaha, no not anymore, but I used to sing in a hardcore band called "Cheerleaders of the Apocalypse". That was tons of fun but I quickly realized I was better at drawing than singing.

    Can you tell us a bit about your work for Artist Editions? How did the designs come about? 
    The first design "Lilith" is based on the character from the bible. Not too many people know of her but I always found her to be quite fascinating. Apparently she was Adam's first wife but got chased out of paradise because she didn't want to comply with the rules and be an obedient housewife. She was one of the first independent women.

    The other design "Demon Heart" I came up with around Valentine's day. The idea was quite simple - I wanted to have a design that looks pretty and cute from afar that shows it's true colors when you look closer.

    Do you have any favorite t-shirts of all time? 
    I have way too many to list here but some of my favorites are a 1980s Misfits shirt, a 1989 Danzig tour shirt and my Chain of Strength "True Till Death" shirt.

    What’s so great about a t-shirt anyway? 
    I was always fascinated by t-shirts as a way of communicating because as kids we used them to signal what bands or movies we liked and we would fanatically try to track down old and extinct t-shirt designs. The really good ones you wear until they fall apart.  

    What’s next for you? 
    World domination, obviously.