Connoisseur Of Dark Arts: An Interview With Haze Of Darkadya Books
Darkadya is a multi-volume book series that focuses on dark, esoteric and occult artists across the globe. The series provides a high quality, physical platform for the artists to share and promote their works and is currently looking for new artists to feature.
The book series is run by Haze, who has a deep connection to the metal community and also runs ViaOmega Magazine, which focuses more specifically on extreme metal news and reporting. While the Darkadya series isn’t tailored for the metal community exclusively, the books do tend to include a plethora of artists that have created visuals for album covers and even some of the album covers themselves.
As a fan of the visual aesthetics that accompany metal music and the esoteric traditions and ideas most of these artists base their work off of, I was quite excited when I heard that 2018 would see the release of a new volume in the series. After learning that the new volume would also offer each customer an opportunity to pledge their money directly to a featured artist, I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to interview Haze to discuss some of the intricacies of this new volume and to talk about some of the influences and inspirations that she’s had over the years.
In what year did Darkadya start and how was it formed? Was the idea placed in your head long before you began the company?
HAZE: Darkadya is relatively new. The idea began two years ago, in mid-January 2015, and I began planning it the day it entered my head. I’m privileged enough to be in contact with many truly talented people and was often asked by bands if I could recommend a good artist. To make it easier, I put together a series of books with abbreviated artist portfolios, in order to represent their skills as best as I can.
How exactly did you first get involved in the metal community? Was there a specific reason bands would come to you when they were looking for artists?
Once you get into metal there’s no escape! Ever since I was 13 and was introduced to more than just rock, it became my life and has continued to this day. It feels right to make connections and forward the right names to the right fans. I’m very selective about what I publish, so it’s more of a matter of preference. It all comes from your roots and mine started rather early. But I still love the rock and heavy metal music from my younger years.
Were you involved in the art scene long before this? How did you come to have such a passion for the arts?
I studied architecture both in Poland and in the USA, but graduated in Poland. I have been drawing since I was a kid, really. I suppose it was genetic in my family, so the passion for art is definitely inherited.
Is any of your own art in the Darkadya series?
Funny you ask. In the very first issue, I had to let go of one of the artists at the very last minute (and by that I mean the VERY last minute), so one of my friends suggested that I put my own art into the issue instead. And that’s how my little doodles ended up in there. My own art’s progress has been significant and has evolved since then, but it was still fun to be a part of my own project. I did not put any significance in it and the money pledged to myself, I used to make merchandise and set up giveaways for the supporters.
What is the primary intent behind Darkadya and has it changed over the years? Is there a meaning behind the name?
I wanted to make something different from any other book that intended to bring profit directly to the artists. Since I don’t come from a rich family, I can’t afford to invest thousands of dollars in pre-printing a large amount of books, so I decided to make it more like a project and run the pre-sales through one chosen month. The customer is able to choose their favorite artist and upon purchase, the profit from the book they bought is immediately sent to the artist chosen. Each artist is able to see the process and the progress.
With the first book, half of the profit was given to the chosen artist and the other half was shared between all participating artists. However after considering the pros and cons, I decided that this idea was not the best. I instead decided to make it more democratic than socialistic (laughs) and do it the way that is truly fair – giving the total profit to those who bring people to the checkout. I never cared for the profit myself because it was my way of thanking the artists for keeping it all alive, as I am who I am today thanks to art.
As far as the name goes, it takes me back to my architecture years. Dark-Arcades-Ja = Dark-Ad-Ya. Dark Arcades, as in ancient architectural colonnades, were always in my dreams and visions, to keep it brief. I kept seeing myself walking through colonnades full of art. “Ja” is Polish and means “Me.” It is pronounced “Ya”, therefore it is for those who can relate to the dark art.
So this is truly a passion project for you! What are some of the ways you’ve seen benefits from running Darkadya the way you do in comparison to how most other businesses are run (namely that you support the artist first and foremost and see little to no profit yourself)?
If you’re asking about the financial benefits, the answer is rather disappointing because there’s no secret behind it – there is such a small amount left over after all payments and fees, that I can only manage to get a few bottles of red wine (laughs). The first and second tomes of Darkadya were even, as far as expenses and earnings go, so it balanced out okay. The others have continued in pretty much the same way.
As strange as it might sound to some, to me it was truly a form of gratitude for what is most significant to me. As far as finances go, I pay my bills with commissioned artworks, jewelry and other crafts. If I were living off of my print businesses… I would die of starvation rather fast!
How did you become interested in the esoteric and how has it affected your art?
Spirituality has been an integral part of my life since I can remember, with all of the ups and downs. One either has a calling for the occult studies and practice, or follows the rest. From approximately age 13 to 25 I was searching for my path. I dug into lots of resources and finally it found me, showed me where to go and where I belong. As opposed to many who like to elaborate on the details of their practice, I would prefer to refrain from speaking too much of my studies. Not many can relate to such subjects, and those who do will find themselves after all.
I understand you have different themes for each volume – What is the theme behind this volume and what does it mean?
So far there are two themes in the series. One is “The Book of Art From Below”, which features the portfolios of dark artists. The second is a new addition from last year called “Live Metal,” which features photographer’s portfolios. This focuses on concert, portrait, and behind the scenes photography. As the series continues to grow there will be more additions, such as “Tattoo BlasphemiArt” and “Sculpture Masters.”
How do you choose artists to be featured in Darkkadya? What will you be looking for in the art for this series?
If an art piece stops me and makes me say, “Holy shit! This is amazing,” then I know I must feature it in my book because it’s worth being seen by many. In the upcoming book there will be 25 spots for artists. I have decided to pick 20 on my own and, since I have a lot on my plate lately, let other artists apply for the remaining 5 spots. So not only is there a chance for anyone to be included, but also for me to learn more about artists I haven’t yet heard of, which I love.
You can’t do this all by yourself, can you? Do you outsource anything or have friends help?
Haha! I wish I had help putting together the books and the magazines, but unfortunately I don’t know anyone crazy enough to do it without benefits, as everyone has bills to pay.
Tell us a little bit about the process you undergo for each new volume that makes Darkadya a reality.
It all starts with the search for the artists. After I have my roster, everything follows the same submission process: the same amount of photos and artwork, bio, etc. I’m making sure everyone understands the process of pre-sales, payouts and so on. There’s no black magic behind it, the cards are laid out for all to see. Once everything is submitted, I get a glass of wine and a cup of coffee and spend the long nights putting it all together. I then send everything over to the printery for one test copy, in order to check the colors and the quality.
Other than that, it’s up to the fans how far the run goes. This is all about the fan’s support, more than anything. So far it’s been truly amazing and I love seeing such enthusiasm from all of the book collectors. For me personally, it’s a thrill to work with some of the world’s best artists.
Any words to aspiring artists, zine makers and anyone interested in applying for the newest volume?
Yes, thank you for asking this question. As opposed to a load of pages that only promise of their greatness, I do pay attention to the submissions and look through every single one of them. Everyone’s art is appreciated and valued. If I can’t put someone in the book, I do offer exposure in ViaOmega. Many people only expose names that are already well known. I, in fact scout for the unknown and the worthy to promote through the book. So to those who read it and want to be published, send over your art. I want to see what you’ve got.
Lastly, where can people send in their artwork to apply for this newest volume of Darkadya? Where can they go to follow Darkadya and keep up to date on this book?
The best way to apply is to fill out the form through our website. Send a link to your portfolio and include a BRIEF description so I know who you are. Scouting is currently going on for the new book. We already have some of the greatest names in art confirmed to participate and I’m looking for new faces as we speak.
If you are at all interested in seeing what Darkadya is all about or potentially being featured in the upcoming book, take advantage while you have the chance!
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