By Andrew Fader
Jacob Bannon, raised in Andover, Massachusetts, may not be someone you’ve heard of, yet his influence on both metal music and art is tremendous. If you’ve seen any sort of shirt or other piece of merchandise with the “skull with wings aesthetic,” it all comes back to Bannon and his prolific art and music career.
In 1998, Bannon received a Bachelors in Fine Arts and subsequently won the “Excellence of Design” accolade that same year. Bannon’s interest in the arts began after finding one of his father’s old paintings. From there, his art was inspired by the artwork of skateboards, BMX, and metal music culture. He doesn’t consider himself a traditional artist, as he finds that definition limiting. He instead refers to himself as a “Life” artist,; an individual whose many creative outlets are interconnected by the same place internally.
Bannon is also the vocalist for acclaimed and hugely influential band, Converge, which originates from the Andover area. Bannon’s art work is intrinsically tied to the music that he and his band members create. While Bannon is an integral part of the band (he has been the vocalist for Converge since their inception in 1990 and writes all of the lyrics) he is relatively hands off in the composition of the music. Bannon has created the album covers for most of Converge’s albums.
Bannon has also contributed artwork for dozens of bands throughout his career. These bands include As I Lay Dying, Bane (a band from Worcester, MA), Every Time I Die, Fall Out Boy, Modern Life is War, Norma Jean, Poison the Well, and Underoath. His band Converge saw critical acclaim and, subsequently, a cult following after the release of their fourth album, Jane Doe. The artwork for that particular album is perhaps his most prolific and is often seen as a symbol for the underground metal scene. Bannon explains that Jane Doe’s artwork came from the album’s lyrical themes which “…were born out of a dissolving relationship and the emotional fallout from that experience.” He goes on to say, “Visually, I just wanted to capture that disillusionment with relationships and channel the negatives I felt. I did this in hopes of creating some sort of positive out of all the negative I was experiencing” (RevolverMag).
Converge's 2001 Album Jane Doe
Converge’s 2004 Album You Fail Me
Converge’s 2006 Album No Heroes
Converge’s 2009 Album Axe to Fall
Converge’s 2012 Album All We Love We Leave Behind
Killing the Dream’s 2005 Album In Place Apart
Killing the Dream’s 2008 Album Fractures
Killing the Dream’s 2010 Album Lucky Me
Underoath’s 2004 Album They’re Only Chasing Safety
Modern Life Is War’s 2013 Album Fever Hunting
As of late 2000, Bannon and his friend Tre McCarthy founded the Deathwish Brand/Label, a record label that focuses primarily on aggressive music, and the label has released over 200 albums to date. Bannon has contributed art and logos to several of these albums. To learn more you can visit www.deathwish.com. If you visit the “Sight” section of the website, you will be able to find a select portfolio of his artwork.
Bannon makes his living off of his art. In fact, he both sells some of his art online (in limited quantities) as well as displays his art in galleries. In 2014 he appeared at two gallery events; One in Beverly, MA at the Mingo Gallery and another in Boston, MA at the Distillery Gallery. He attends galleries all over the country. You can find his prints over at jacobbannon.com.
As to Bannon’s process of creating his artwork, he states that he keeps busy all day, whether it is making fine art or doing design work. There is no real structure to his schedule or art making. Much of his self-reflection comes from the process of creating art.
It’s quite clear that Jacob Bannon is passionate about both of his creative outlets: making music and art. Bannon is in a unique position where his paintings affect his music and vice versa. He may not be a household name, but there is no denying that his art is as influential as the music he and his band members create. Below there are two videos. The first is a mini documentary, Rungs in a Ladder, by McFarland and Pecci that gives greater insight into Bannon’s personal life as well as his artistic process. The second video plays Converge’s most recent album All We Love We Leave Behind accompanied by moving stills of his artwork that coincide with each individual song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4r2wlMSLJ0 – Rungs in a Ladder
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-vZRGK4FbI – All We Love We Leave Behind Album Stream with Bannon’s artwork