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Entrevista - Chris Achilleos 2013

*How did you receive the commission to arrange the Whitesnake “Love Hunter” cover?

It was a long time ago, but I seem to remember just receiving a phone call to go and see the band’s manager.

*Did they (band, label, managers) tell you how they wanted the artwork to look like?

I always ask for a brief to get an understanding of what the client is expecting of me. He suggested some kind of union between a sexy woman and a giant white snake. That was it.

*What do you remember of the process of painting that cover? Could you explain what technic you did use?

Most of the work went into the composition of the image fitting it into a square frame and the working out of the scales on the serpent. I used my usual technique at the time of waterproof inks and airbrush.

*This cover was even censored in some countries. Have you seen the censored covers? What do you know about?

I only found out about this censoring a long time later. I was not aware of the controversy around it having heard nothing from the band or the manager.

*Did you know Whitesnake or David Coverdale before? Do you like their music?

No I didn’t know them personally or professionally before I was commissioned. As far as the music goes, I listened to their albums when I was working on the piece and I liked some of the tracks.

*Why the relation between Achilleos and Whitesnake did not go on after the successful cover of “Love Hunter”?

Because they never got back to me for anything else after I delivered the artwork. Perhaps something to do with our contractual agreement concerning merchandise license! They wanted to pay me as little as possible and that meant no merchandising to be done from it, but they did it anyway.

*Is it true the original “Love Hunter” artwork was stolen in the 80’s? Can you explain it?

Yes this is true. The artwork, together with some other paintings were taken from me under false pretenses by someone I trusted. He disappeared to America and I never saw them again.

*Uriah Heep ‘Fallen Angel’ was your first hard rock cover? What do you remember about that artwork and the band?

The artwork was originally done for a book cover. It was decided not to use it as such so it became available. The art director at the record label thought it was great and just the thing for the cover. So he decided to use it instead of commissioning me to do a new picture. I never met the band.

*What did the famous “Heavy Metal” film and record cover mean in your career?

I was approached by the American producers to work on the film as conceptual artist, designing and developing the character named “Taarna” and her bird. For this I went to New York and Montreal to meet the producer, Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) and to follow his instructions. After I finished with that I was asked by him to come up with a concept design for the film poster, which I did. They also asked, as far as I am aware, 3 more artist to come up with their concept and they were to choose which one they would use for the poster and main promotion for the movie. They decided on using mine. They later used it for the cover of the double album of the movie soundtrack.

*You painted the “Heart Attack” cover by Krokus in the 80’s. What do you remember about?

It was another job that came through an agency. I never met the band or even heard the music by then, I was just asked to design a concept around the title of the album “Heart Attack” using the band’s name. I originally included a fantasy figure reclining on the letters, which was my favorite bit. But I was told to take that out as they preferred it without it! They were wrong !!!!!

*In the last decade Gary Hughes from Ten called you for the Ten cover “Return To Evermore” and the two volumes of his opera “Once And Future King”. What can you tell me about those artworks?

This was the first time that I really worked with a musician and it was a real pleasure as Gary is a very nice and talented man to work with. We are both great fans of history and the Arthurian legends. I put a lot of work into them both. They are two of my favorite pieces and I know how much Gary likes them. The plan was to release limited edition prints of them but this did not happen for various reasons. My hopes are that this can still happen one day.

As far as the cover for Ten, Gary chose to use one of my existing fantasy paintings.

*Why have you painted such a few album covers, when I assume you have received several proposals?

There was a lot of demand for fantasy art to be shown on albums in the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately it was too early in my career to cash into. By the time the eighties came there was not much demand for it.

I would have loved to have worked directly with bands and musicians, and I know I would have done some great works.

Occasionally I still get requests for covers, but these come direct and mostly from young musicians with a lot of enthusiasm and praise but who have no budget.

*What is the music you like best? Could you tell me bands...?

I am not going to start listing, too many!

I have been listening to all sorts of music from my teenage years, later through Art College and the 70s, and onward to today’s.

One thing I say is that I still enjoy dancing and prancing about to heavy industrial / techno music haha !