I met up with Filip Ivanovic at his Comiccon booth in Artist Alley. By his own admission, he’s done pretty much everything related to graphics, from web sites to advertising to film, before ending up in the video game industry. After a stint at Ubisoft, he went to work at Behaviour Interactive where he’s been for the last 12 years. There, he worked on many projects, from family titles to games that appeal to hardcore gamers. Currently he is working on Star Citizen, the most crowdfunded video game of all time (85 million dollars and still climbing).
“The dark side of some of my pieces comes a lot from the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft” he says, ” and from my life experiences and society.” Looking at some of his art, I found it hard to imagine Filip doing video games aimed at kids. “But I love Pixar and the classic cartoon,” he told me. “I don’t stick to one style, and I loved doing that stuff.” Filip draws inspiration from many artists; some for their sense of composition or their brush stroke, others the subjects they depict. “I could list so many, but my main influences are James Jean, Ashley Wood, John Dyer Baizley, Ben Templesmith, William Bouguereau, John Singer Sargent, Gustave Doré, Alphonse Mucha, H.R. Giger… I could go on and on!”
Filip is a huge music fan, and I’ve often run into him at metal shows. He’s hard to miss as he usually stands a head above everyone else on the floor. As a freelancer, he’s been making a name for himself in the music industry doing posters and album covers for local and international acts. “Yeah, I’ve done album covers for bands like Cryptopsy, Talamyus, Teramobil, Nervous Impulse and Canceric, who are launching their album tonight at the Foufs; the next Necronomicon coming out in the fall too but I can’t show it yet. I also did the cover for Humanoid, the side project from Augury’s guitarist.” I asked him what the process is like when he collaborates with a band on merchandise or album covers. “It can vary a lot between artists”, he explained. “Some have a very precise idea of what they want while others will give me free reign. For those I’ll submit a few sketches, and then I’ll refine the one they picked. And in some cases, the band has a series of symbols and references that need to be included in the image, so I need to integrate those into my style. And sometimes, as was the case with Nervous Impulse, they wanted a piece I’d already done.”
Filip’s work can also be found on a multitude of official Heavy Montreal merchandise, as well as being the official artist of Grimposium, an event that will showcase book launches, panel discussions, art exhibitions and shows, and will lead up to the Heavy Montreal festival in August. His art style is of course a perfect match for these events. “Over the years I’ve learned to put more emphasis on emotions and intensity, through lighting or facial expressions. When doing commissions, there’s always the deadline that limits you, so that’s a challenge. I try to express pain on a personal level, or on the larger scale of society. My work may seem really dark, but my goal is to put people in front of certain facts: the planet’s well-being is very fragile, many people suffer alone, poverty, political corruption, etc”.
What covers does he himself admire? “You can’t go wrong with Derek Riggs’ work for Iron Maiden, especially “Somewhere in Time”. “Clandestine” and “Left Hand Path” from Entombed are also among my favourite. I’ll be sharing space at Grimposium for the second year in a row with the artist Dan Seagrave who did those. I also love “In the Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson, “Rust in Peace” from Megadeth, most of Mastodon’s covers, and so many more.”