In the world of ero-guro art, often the artwork is sometimes too cartoonish or too over the top in its violence. The sense of artistry can almost feel secondary to shock value. With Tokyo-based painter Meimaro‘s work, fine art and offal are paired together with graceful synergy. Much like a horror film in which cinematography and composition must work with grotesque special effects in order to maximize the impact of a particular scene, so do the paintings of Meimaro, which often feature graphic disfigurations.
情色猎奇（ero-guro）艺术作品往往要么过于卡通化，要么过于暴力。视觉冲击似乎比艺术感更重要。而在东京画家 Meimaro 的作品里，美学与血腥达成了优雅的平衡。正如恐怖片中，摄影和构图必须配合怪诞的特效才能最大限度地呈现出特定场景的效果，Meimaro 的画作同样如此，经常充斥着细致描绘的毁损面容。
“I have always loved horrific, grotesque, and dark art as far as I can remember, but I never drew these forms myself because I thought they were something that should not be publicly displayed,” Meimaro recalls. “When I came to know Takato Yamamoto’s paintings, however, that feeling was gone. The atrocious world depicted by the perfectly arranged and detailed lines and colors seems more truly beautiful than ever before. It made me realize that ‘whatever the theme or motif, it can be made beautiful by the artist.’”
Meiraro’s art shares some similarities with Yamamoto’s—whether it be the use of negative space, the deliberate line work, or the pale flesh of the human form undergoing variations of mutation or disfigurement.
Subject matter that most consider to be ugly, such as blood and exposed human organs, became a source of inspiration for Meimaro. To her, these elements are the ideal vessels to express the cruelty of humans. These motifs can give physical shape to feelings of grudge, jealousy, and hatred. Though unsightly, these aspects of human nature are still a part of existence, and she believes they need to be faced head on. Her gruesome art forces viewers to do just that.
淋漓的鲜血，暴露的人体器官——这些令大多数人不堪入目的元素成为 Meimaro 的灵感来源。对她来说，这些元素是表达人性残酷的理想载体，能具体形象地表达怨恨、嫉妒和仇恨的情绪。她认为，虽然这些丑陋的人类本性难登大雅之堂，却是真实存在，人们应该坦诚面对，而看上去触目惊心的作品也是在强迫观众直面这一点。
Meimaro’s work caught the attention of metal bands from Japan and beyond who have commissioned her for album covers and the odd piece of apparel. Japanese metal band Mayhem Fancy was the first to commission a piece from Meimaro for their album Spritzen, “I consciously used dark and muddy colors to express the weight of slamming death metal,” she recalls. The album art depicted a gory murder scene with a female victim’s entrails being pulled out. She included the band in the creative process as well by having the band members decide the words on the grave in the picture. “My illustrations usually depict a masochistic nude woman at the center of it all,” she says.
Meimaro 的作品引起了日本及其他地区的金属乐队的关注，并委托她制作专辑封面和服装。Mayhem Fancy 是第一支找上门来的乐队，邀请她担任其专辑《Spritzen》封面的制作，她回忆道：“我故意用黑暗和污浊色调来表达死亡金属的厚重。”专辑封面描绘了一个血腥的谋杀场景，画面上，凶手抽出女性的内脏。她还邀请了乐队成员参与创作，让他们构想画上墓碑的文字。她指出：“我的插画作品通常会描绘一个受虐的裸体女性。”
Meimaro herself being a metal fan has made her album art that much more true to the genre’s roots. She says of her initial getting into metal, “Originally, I listened to Queen and Billy Joel. I first heard about metal music when I was a college student,” she says. “I found out about it on a message board and bought the CD recommended there (Evil Warning by Angra). It really hit the spot. I blasted it every night before going to bed for several weeks. After that, I started researching, buying jackets, and immersing myself more and more into the world of heavy metal.”
Meimaro 本人也是一名金属乐迷，这使得她所创作的专辑封面能更忠实再现这种音乐流派的精髓。谈到开始接触金属乐的契机，她说：“我以前都听皇后乐队和 Billy Joel，第一次听说重金属音乐是在大学的时候。我在学校的公告板上看到宣传，还买了推荐的 CD（Angra的《Evil Warning》），一听就觉得很上头。连续好几个星期，我每天晚上睡前都要听。之后，我开始深入了解这种音乐风格，购买夹克，把更多精力投入进重金属世界中。”
She eventually got into the local metal scene, and became friends with members of Ayakashi Kagura and Urobilinemia—bands that she also created album art for. “These bands often went out for dinner with me and talked about their music. They appreciate my own art besides the album covers I do,” she says. “For Urobilinemia, at first, I was planning to draw an original illustration for them, however, they liked the work I had exhibited in the past, so I remade an existing piece into the current design. Something like the upper and lower thorns is a symbol of their musical aggression, and the blue background is the image color.”
后来，她混入当地金属圈子，与 Ayakashi Kagura 和 Urobilinemia 乐队成员打成一片，同样也为乐队的专辑封面带来帮助。她说：“我们经常厮混在一起，一起吃饭、一起听歌聊音乐。除了我设计的专辑封面之外，他们也很喜欢我的其他创作。Urobilinemia 十分中意我之前展出过的一幅作品，后来这幅作品成了他们专辑的封面，画面顶端和底端的荆棘细节代表了他们在音乐上的激进。”
While Meimaro is blazing her own path with album covers that are unlike anything seen by her contemporaries in the field, she remains inspired by other artists and their album art. “I consider Osaka based artist Toshihiro Egawa (Cryptopsy, Deeds of Flesh, Devourment, Mortician) as one of the artists who established death metal art,” she says. “I admired his cover art that delicately depicts the unique sludgy world of death metal with a profound touch. I tried to imitate it for a while, but… it made me realize that the pictures I like and the pictures I want to draw are two different things. After all these experiences, I have settled on my current style of painting.”
Meimaro 正以专辑封面设计开辟自己的道路，虽然她的作品不同于同时代的其他专辑封面设计，但她仍然会从其他艺术家及其专辑设计获得启发，她说：“我觉得大阪艺术家江川敏弘（曾为 Cryptopsy、Deeds of Flesh、Devourment、Mortician 等乐队设计）是引领死亡金属艺术的艺术家之一。我很喜欢他的封面设计，其中细致描绘了死亡金属独特的污浊世界，充满深刻寓意。我有段时间试图模仿他的风格，但后来发现，自己喜欢的作品和想画的作品是两码事。经历了这些之后，我最终确定了现在的绘画风格。”
The relationship between the music on an album, the logo and the album art is not to be discredited. When thinking of Metallica’s Master of Puppets, it is impossible to not think of tombstones and puppet strings. Establishing a relationship between the sonic and the visual is essential for Meimaro. “When I first listen to a CD I bought, I like to look at the cover illustration and compare it to the lyrics and music. The cover art makes a strong first impression on the listener. It is probably the first thing most people mention when describing a CD they have in mind. Even if the cover art is blank, the music gives it meaning. My goal is to create cover art that tells a deeper story about the music.”
Concerning her creative process of making album art, when Meimaro receives requests, she normally asks the client to send her a demo and lyrics to help the creative process. She believes in the synergy of a band and artist working together to create the precise mood of what the album should be, musically and visually. After listening to a demo several times, she gets an image of what the album is trying to convey and gets to work. “Heavy metal, in particular, may be easy for me to imagine because the atmosphere of the illustration or logo is somewhat fixed depending on the genre. At times like this, I am glad that I like heavy metal.”
一张专辑中的音乐、标识和专辑封面之间的关系也很重要，譬如提起 Metallica 乐队的《Master of Puppets》，就不可能不想到墓碑和木偶的提线。Meimaro 很注重在声音和视觉之间建立关系。“买新 CD 回来听的时候，我喜欢先看封面，将其与歌词和音乐进行比较。封面设计会给听众留下很强烈的第一印象。大多数人提起一张 CD 时，首先想到的可能就是封面。即使封面设计是空白一片，音乐也会赋予它意义。我的目标是通过封面设计，讲述出关于音乐更深层次的故事。”
关于她的专辑封面创作过程，当 Meimaro 接到邀请时，她通常会要求客户把 demo 和歌词发给她，以便在创作过程中参考。她认为乐队与封面设计师要共同合作和参与，才能精准传递出一张专辑在音乐和视觉方面要传达的内容。在听了几次 demo 后，她了解了专辑试图传达的画面，然后才开始下笔创作。“对我来说，重金属音乐专辑的封面相对而言更易于构思，因为不同音乐流派的封面或标识的风格基本是固定的。在这种时候，我就会特别庆幸，自己喜欢的是重金属音乐。”
Meimaro has created album art for half a dozen metal bands as of now, including Putrid Pile and Vulvodynia from the US, and she still hopes to work with more in the future. “My first choice is and always will be Angra; I especially admire Andre Matos, their first vocalist, and I have listened to him for a long time.” she grins. “Some other bands include Sonata Arctica, Gamma Ray, Arch Enemy, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Napalm Death, Mayhem, etc. But this is just a small part of the list! In Japan, I am a big fan of SEIKIMA-II and MUCC. I also can’t leave out Chthonic and OTEP, whose worldviews I love so much.”
到目前为止，Meimaro 已经为六支金属乐队创作了专辑封面，包括来自美国的 Putrid Pile和 Vulvodynia 等乐队，她希望未来能继续和更多乐队合作。“Angra 永远都是我的第一选择。我特别喜欢他们的第一位主唱 Andre Matos，我听他的歌很长时间了，”她笑着说道，“其他乐队包括 Sonata Arctica、Gamma Ray、Arch Enemy、Fleshgod Apocalypse、Napalm Death、Mayhem等，但这只是其中一小部分！在日本，我特别喜欢 SEIKIMA-II和 MUCC。另外当然还有 Chthonic 和 OTEP，我非常喜欢他们的世界观。”