Scorched Tundra Countdown: The Artists

This year we commissioned two artists to work together to create the artwork for the Scorched Tundra poster.  Longtime festival collaborator Axel Widén teamed up with Chicago-based print maker Bryn Gleason to create the artwork for ST XI.  Below are their words on who they are and how it all came together.


Bryn Gleason

I was really excited to collaborate with Axel Widén on the Scorched Tundra Xl Artwork, not only because he has shown his creative talents with unique ST imagery for the last 10 editions, but also because our creative styles are so drastically different. The excessively bright and bold colors Axel uses to digitally create the ST Artwork contrasts drastically with my own style, which has an almost opposite aesthetic. Typically I use black, gray, white, and sometimes a hint of blue or a small accent of red. 

I work by hand on copper plates for intaglio printing. I paint with ferric chloride acid to etch organic water like gestures complimented by deeply etched and scraped lines. I often create eerie creatures in abstract and dark environments. For ST, I envisioned a frozen tundra abruptly destroyed by a blistering sun. I picture this place to suddenly be hidden beneath a mass of water, with hybrid creatures evolving to attune themselves to their new surroundings. 

Alexi Front, founder of Scorch Tundra, invited me to participate in Scorched Tundra’s first visual Art addition to the metal music fest in 2018. I etched a creature I call LadyFish, a grotesquely beautiful angler fish, into a copper plate. After inking, wiping, and printing LadyFish several times onto a nice think etching paper, I let the ink dry in the below surface area of the plate. I then sealed in all the details with a glossy clear epoxy, locking LadyFish into a water-like home where she can watch passersby as she hangs on a dusty dark wall of a concert venue or a brightly lit gallery space.

For Scorched Tundra Xl, I began the same process as I had with LadyFish, this time creating Tundra Turtle, a companion for the ST X angler fish. After I printed Tundra Turtle, I photographed him and sent a digital image to Axel, who worked digitally in Sweden to create a colorful ST environment for the Turtle. It was delightful to see my creature continue to evolve and come to life as Axel sent proofs of the critter screaming at the sunrise that was melting everything around him with bursts of color. To extend the collaboration even further, I am taking Axels design and reimagining it as a silk-screen printed poster.

Axel Widén

I’m Axel Widén, an illustrator from Gothenburg, Sweden. I’ve done most of the Scorched Tundra posters over the years (not to mention having the privilege to play there several times with Zombiekrig and Marionette). This year was different though as for the first time in the history of the festival I collaborated with another artist, the amazing Bryn Gleeson, who made a print of a copper plate etching that I colorized digitally. It was a great experience to combine our different skill sets and I’m very pleased with the result!