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SeasonZero is a professional design studio that specializes in creating album covers, logos, and artwork for various bands. The studio is run by Matthias Bauerle, who we are interviewing today. He educates us on many different topics, including how to build up a large clientele for your company, and other interesting issues. Matthias has done a Plus tutorial for us as well that you may want to check out, titled "Creating Artwork For An Epic Metal Album." Lets dive into this artist interview!

1. Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?

Hey Emil and the dear readers. Thank you very much. Again it's a pleasure and honor to be a small part of your fantastic website! My name is Matthias Baeuerle, I'm 25 and work/live in a small city in southern Germany. At the moment I'm about to do my Bachelor of Arts at the Academy of Ravensburg, finishing this year in the fields of Media- and Graphic design.

I think the passion for design started in my childhood and later in my art classes in school since I was always drawing, which later turned into the wish to create my own designs. Getting my first version of Photoshop made a total digital junky out of me and I can't image working without it today.

2. Season Zero is your freelance design studio, give us a look into how you created it and what type of work you guys specialize in.

Being a musician myself, I've always worked on the artwork for my own bands and years later started to do this for other local bands too. Around three years ago I brought Season Zero to life and pursued more and more to work for bands and other clients related to music alongside my studies. The fact that I was also freelancing and working for an advertising agency during my studies gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about printing and DTP.

All those experiences made it possible, on one hand I was able to do the artworks/illustrations for a job, and on the other hand handle the whole technical things that are necessary to get a satisfying print product. In the beginning I also tried to do a lot of web design but one of my first real business decisions was to completely focus on print design (still there are a few MySpace/web design layouts I do - fortunately my fellow Sebastian does the programming part). By the end of my studies I will hopefully get the opportunity to work for bigger labels and bands.

3. You run a successful freelance studio with a long list of satisfied customers; what advice would you give to a designer who is about to open up his own studio and needs to attract some clientele?

I think a presentable portfolio and knowing what you really want to do is key. When I first started working for clients I tried to do mostly everything - flyers for some smaller companies, album artworks for bands, websites for lawyers and logotypes for mobile telephone companies. But my second real business decision was to create a distinct business profile.

In my case, I reduced the range of works and focused on bands and music. Because of the decision it's a lot easier to communicate and present your services and skills. Sure it is possible that you might lose some of your customers, but did you really want them from the start? The music industry is a whole different world than advertising in the common sense - for me it was too much trying to live in both worlds. But that's just my two cents.

4. How does Photoshop factor into your design process? Do you do all of your work in it? And how important of a program is it to you?

Photoshop means everything to me - regarding my work process. In the first case I try to realize most of my jobs with it. After thinking about a concept and some sketches for composition I actually open Photoshop and start working. I think it's a perfect program and it's getting better and better.

5. You have amazing Photo manipulation designs like "End Of Destiny" and stunning Typographic illustrations like "Only Type Will Tell" so your style varies. But if you could describe your design style in a few words what would it be?

I think my style can be divided in three chapters. The first one is epic, iconic and somehow Caspar David Friedrich inspired. It's definitely my favorite style because it gives me the chance to tell a story and create visual narratives. "End Of Destiny" is a good example for my preference for matte paintings whereas "Morningstar" shows the more character based side. It's always great if it's possible to have a band that likes this style and gives me plenty of rope.

The second one is more typographic/graphical. "Only Type Will Tell"or comparable artworks "Time and Tide Wait for No one" are the complete opposite to my photocomposing. They are reduced, abstract and type plays an important role. I've just started to develop my own style but I wouldn't want to resign to doing such artworks. In fact, it's quite important when you work for clients to show that you're flexible and could solve a graphical problem in more than one way. When doing commissioned work, the most important thing is to communicate the client's statement and not my own.

The last chapter is custom hand lettering and creating logotypes. Altogether, I always try to tell a small story with my work and by working for bands all three chapters are constantly needed and so it's definitely the perfect field of work for me.

6. Your studio specializes in creating album covers for various bands. Is the approach to creating an album cover different from the approach to creating one of your other large pieces? If so how are the two different?

Well doing personal artworks I'm able to create whatever I want - mostly inspired by mythology or literature. I always try to develop my skills and create new effects by this - mostly to show potential clients what is possible to do. Regarding "End of Destiny" the band "Godmade" loved my style and the concept and I could work on it as it was a personal piece.

But that's not always possible. I'm aware that this kind of artworks doesn't suit each and every musical genre - so in the end you have to be a graphical service provider and not an artist. You have to find ways to illustrate the music of the band and forget about your own likes. But by this it's always a creative and very inspirational undertaking that can lead to some very unique designs.

7. "Odin" is a truly memorizing design of an old warrior surrounded by vicious wolves and ravens. Please walk us through the process of creating this stunning design and tell us how you came up with the idea?

The composition was definitely inspired by art Nouveau artist Mucha - but I wanted to create something in my own style (not hand drawn). It's the attempt to have a mythological character/theme in a new non-cultural portrayal. I used a lot of stock photos to create the character of Odin - the armor, helmet and even the face is totally pieced together.

8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?

First of all, thank you for the great opportunity doing this interview and showing some of my works. Psdtuts+ definitely helped me to figure out some techniques that today are basic working stages in my artworks. So I definitely would like to encourage everyone to use your tutorials to develop your Photoshop skills. But it's necessary to adapt those techniques for your own artworks - in the end it's the idea that counts.

Thank you very much and don't stop buying records - there are so many awesome artworks and concepts out there that MP3's can't provide! ;-)

Where to find Matthias on the Web

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