A haven for heavy metal
The Weta artist shows us around not one but two studios, and previews forthcoming projects
After a busy day working digitally at Weta Workshop, Nick Keller swaps a stylus for a paintbrush and rocks out while creating heavy metal album art.
My workspaces are a somewhat schizophrenic scattering: there’s my PC workstation at Weta Workshop, a similar but more humble set-up at home, and a rented studio space at a local communal art centre in Wellington City.
The day job as a concept designer – mainly for film and TV – requires me to almost exclusively create digital art. My painting studio caters to my love of traditional art. This means I can be working on a personal piece, or freelance projects such as heavy metal album covers. I can be found here at all hours on weekends and late on weekday evenings after finishing at Weta.
My setup is constantly evolving as I adapt my workflow. At the moment, a repurposed office desk with makeshift extension serves as a handy junk-accumulator. I can access said junk while painting at my main easel.
Unless I’m approaching a deadline, I’m not particularly good at working from home. I find myself much more focused when I have a dedicated workspace, absent of distractions. Generally speaking, I’ll start an oil painting project in sketch form, then mock up some Photoshop compositions, colour palettes and so on. Quite often
I accomplish this by staying after hours at my Weta PC.
When I’m ready to move onto the canvas I migrate to the studio. Until recently, it was a bomb site of reference print outs, stuck all over the place. A studio laptop has helped cut down on unnecessary printing.
I’m still trying to find the sweet spot when it comes to taking a digital mock-up far enough to adequately inform my final piece, without overworking it and merely recreating it in paint. The thing that fascinates, satisfies and infuriates me about the art form is the evolutionary journey of a painting. Nick is a senior concept artist at Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. Visit www.nickkellerart.com to see more of his art.
Here are two recently finished album cover pieces I produced in tandem. Usually I like to have multiple works on the go, so as to keep up momentum and avoid any lull between projects, which seems to inevitably happen anyway. My exceedingly comfy reading/drawing chair. My partner claims it’s hers and as a consequence it’s made the journey between our two studios a number of times. This is my Weta Workshop workstation. It’s a PC with dual monitor and Wacom tablet setup on the mezzanine floor above the design room. The rather large expanse of tabletop seems to encourage a lateral spread of my junk. Pictured on-screen is a digital mock-up for a personal oil painting I’m planning out. My progressively evolving collection of pewter skulls. Not quite in evolutionary order. My temporary abode of recently finished album art projects that are looking for a more permanent home.