"As a newborn, Ernie Parada was abandoned on the benches of Union Square Park in downtown New York City. The local squirrels, well known for their outwardly friendly demeanor, took him in as one of their own. It was there that he developed his love for illustration, design, and unsalted nuts. "...at least this is what you can read on Hellgate's site. Absolutly no reason to doubt it's true.If you are familiar with Jay Ryan art, you may know that squirrels are, maybe, the most important animal in the Rock Poster world. How do you find yourself involved in the NY Hardcore scene when you come from a squirrel family is another story we have no space here to speak about. Maybe in a next interview ?
Right now I'm on shuffle, but I can tell you in this session it had, Sick of it All, Riverdales, Iggy, Teenage Bottlerocket, Agnostic Front, Snapcase, Stereo State...
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Ernie Parada. I am a born and bred New Yorker who grew up in the NY Hardcore scene. I've been in at least one band every day of my life for over 30 years now (I started young - first gig at 14 years old.). The reviews say that I'm "seminal", which is a nice thing to say, but I don't know, it always sounds disgusting to me. The bands I started and were for lack of a better term "mine" were Gilligan's Revenge, Token Entry, Black Train Jack, Grey Area and the Arsons. I'm married and have two kids and live in Astoria NY.
When did you start drawing?
As far back as I can remember. I remember getting coloring books and rather than color them in, I would try to reproduce the line drawing on a clean sheet of paper with a pencil. In school I used to draw things for kids to receive payment in loose doritos.
both. I would take the drawing advice of anyone who would give it. I would go to Pearl paint and just ask the guy behind the counter as many questions as I could until I became annoying. In school i would spend all my time drawing skatebord decks, and try to recreate perfect dead kennedys and circle jerks logos from memory.
Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?
I'm a freelance advertising art director. Mainly digital. I've been in the Advertising world for a long time now - about 15 years. I started in publishing, I was the art director of Guitar Magazine, and then one day the focus became "online".
I learned all that I could about the web (which was in its infancy at the time.) and its been paying the bills and keeping the lights on for about 15 years.
Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
No, but I'd be happy too.
As a kid, my dad had me completely schooled on Picasso, Gaudi, and other spanish artists. I was always surrounded by wood carvings of Don Quixote, wailing saints, and suffering, anguished christ figures, and I loved the twisting and rolling of the forms and how they were defined with such severe, deep cuts. I didn't manage to get any of this into my work at such a young age, but the whole thing clicked for me when I first saw Sean Taggart's Agnostic Front-"Cause For Alarm" cover. That for me was ground breaking. From that day on a copy of that cover hung over my desk for years. The way an arm, or a leg can go back and twist around some other things and come back and turn again, or the way an open mouth can be such a giant cavern you can almost hear an echo. it reminded me of the craziness in the picasso's like guernica, or other stuff from the 1930's.
I met sean at a SHOK gig and grilled him for tips. His influence on me is obvious in stuff I did for Cornerstone, In Your Face, and other stuff early on. The more current stuff that I love is the Heads of State, Scrojo, Justin Hampton, Horsebites and Sal Dellaquila. Their stuff just blows me away.
What are the principal steps in your work ?
The first thing is getting the idea that I think will work. I have to start with some semblance of an idea. Once in a while I get backed up against a wall for time and I end up doing something that I feel has less that a well formed idea, and I always regret it. I think that the concept should mirror something about the personality of the band. It's my work and it should "look" like me, but it should "sound" like the band. Next step is reference. sometimes I take pictures and sometimes I download them, and then cut them and arrange them until i have a rough idea of the composition. Once I know (or think) I have a well rounded concept, I get to drawing.
Depending on where I am, I'll either do a rough sketch in a book, but usually I just draw it into illustrator with a tablet. 99.9% of everything I do is vector. I used to click everything out, but now It's all pen strokes. It takes some getting used to, but for me it's worth it. I find that very few people agree with me on this one.
How long does it take you to do a poster?
well, there's that idea part that's hard to nail down. Sometimes I think I have a good idea, and then three quarters of the way into the drawing it occurs to me that it is indeed a terrible idea. But, once I get a good one, and the ink is flowing nicely, and my hand isn't fighting me, it could take minutes. The printing usually takes me a day. If I start 100 copies of a 4 color poster in the morning, I'll be done around 5:30.
You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?
For which band have you already worked for?
Counting everything? t shirts, CD and Vinyl covers included?
Bad Brains, Bouncing Souls, Sick of It All, Samiam, Cromags, the Bronx, Foo Fighters, NOFX, 7 Seconds, Wu Tang and a bunch more Im forgetting.
For which band would you love to work?
Thats a tough one, given the list I already hit, but If I had to say "man, I'd love to do something for them," I guess i'd say DEVO, or anything with Ian Mackaye in it. Oh, and I'd love to do something for Social Distortion. Unless of course, we could go back in time. That would change everything.
yes and no. I chase down the ones I really want, but people do call me and ask me to do things for them too.
What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?
for me it's color choice. I spend a hell of a lot of time trying to decide what the color combinations should be. What color should the paper be and where in the darkest to lightest, and warmest to coolest scale should it sit? ugghh. there is no perfectly clear answer.
Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
I would like to think that I'm part of a scene, because that's all I really know. I've been part of a scene for my whole life. For better or worse, it defined who I became, and who I was. If I could be considered with any of the names I mentioned above, I would consider it an honor.
A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?
you can see my illustration and poster work at http://www.hellgateindustries.
com, The advertising stuff is at http://www.ernieparada.com. If you'd like to hire me for either, just drop me a line.
Dr. Know of the Bad Brains said to me "Erningham, I knew you were a talented bastard, but this is ridiculous."
another guy said to me "I went home with your poster last night and just stared at it for an hour."
What can we wish you for the future?
A healthy and happy life for my family, friends and myself and I wish it right back at'cha in advance.