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Metallica’s cover artist on what it’s like to illustrate one of the biggest bands on the planet

A poster of MEtallica
(Image credit: Metallica)

Artist Michelle Harvey is living the ultimate Metallica fan dream. After creating S&M album-inspired artwork for a client, she ended up getting hired by the band to design the posters for their S&M2 tour (and our August issue cover art).

Michelle, also known as WolfSkullJack, sat down with us to chat about her dream job and what it’s like working for the biggest band on the planet.

First off, the illustration is absolutely stunning! Is it the first Metallica-inspired piece you’ve done?

Yeah, this one was the very first one. I did it back in August and it went live in September. But since then, there's been a few more of them and some haven't been released yet. 

Obviously, Metallica are a very well-known band. How did you manage to capture the individual spirit of each person in a way that’ll feel surprising or refreshing to an audience who are so familiar with their image?

I think being a genuine fan of the music. Knowing the music as well as I do and creating something custom for them. I hope that shows in the character of the art. Getting James Hetfield's tattoos right was tricky — trying to Google pictures and get the right angle. He gets new tattoos quite often, so I really hope I have it accurate!  

It must be amazing to know they saw your work and loved it.

Oh yeah! I think Lars is very involved with signing off on art. I got an email from their manager saying that he and Lars like the artwork and that just blew my tiny mind. Like, ‘wow, he’s seen it! That’s so cool!’ 

Now that you’ve ticked Metallica off your wish list, which band would you like to illustrate next?

There will never be another band that could match Metallica for me. Having said that, if I got an offer from Queens Of The Stone Age, or Slipknot, or System of a Down, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys… any of those guys, I wouldn’t turn it down! 

What do you think the biggest influences have been for you artistically? Do we detect a hint of Pushead in your style?

I know the iconography really well, but I didn't know the name Pushead! That was quite an accident but I'm glad that happened because it’s a nod to the original artwork. I've been drawing the same kind of stuff since I was a kid of 13 or 14: skulls, flowers, wolves. It’s very much about my desire to be in nature and humanity's conflicts with nature. 

Favourite album or playlist to paint to?

My music taste is kind of all over the place! At the moment I'm really digging the soundtrack to an anime series called Dorohedoro. I’m loving Heilung at the moment, a lot of my work is trying to tap into that same spirit of getting back to the wild. So yeah, I'm loving the live album, it’s really solid.

Favourite Metallica album?

S&M, one hundred percent! I mean, I love The Black Album and Master Of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, all that stuff as well, but S&M is definitely the most special and the most meaningful.

You can find WolfskullJack on her website, over on Instagram and at the Wolf Watch UK rescue charity. The latest issue of Metal Hammer is on sale now – grab a copy to check out our exclusive Metallica interview.