David Despau. "Manson". All rights reserved.

I want to present in this post an image created by one of the most important current Spanish illustrators: David Despau. He is the Creative Director of the BBDO agency at the same time he works as illustrator. The quality of his works had made that he appears in important illustration books as Taschen’s “Illustration Now3”, “200 best illustrators” from Luerzers Archive, “Illusive” and “Hairy” from Gestalten.

The illustration of Marilyn Manson has been made by ballpen, pencil and Photoshop. I have chosen it because he represents maybe the most popular icon of the Gothic culture.

I have contrary feelings about Marilyn Manson. He obviously is one of the phenomens that has popularised the Gothic movement, his provocations, scandals, extravagances have risen him to the top of Gothic culture transpassing the bubble of underground, main characteristic of this movement. The date was october 1996 when Manson released “Antichrist Superstar”, one of the best and popular albums of the 90’s. This was the inflection point in the career of Manson, since then everything was different for him, the fame. I consider the excellence of this album comes from the production of the album by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails (he is just one true genius of Industrial Rock). Before and after this release, the albums of Marilyn Manson are average, not masterpieces at all, with a few exceptions.

I mean that Manson is a market product, a mass media icon, but he is not at all a genius of Gothic culture. His fame is undeserved. So, as sympathiser of Gothic culture, I admit Manson is important to spread the movement but he is not at all the main reference. We must not forget the real initiators of the genre: The Cure, Bauhaus and the Batcave in UK in the late 70’s and early 80’s, spread all over Europe in the 90’s. So, Manson is a later icon, he hasn´t invent or renew this movement at all.

However, and disagreeing in many points the Manson’s policy I think he, as icon, is important to show the Gothic culture to the mainstream, an underground movement that I consider very important inside the music history of the end of 20th century. And it´s just for this cause that I deceided to post this image.

The illustration of David Despau caught some elements of Manson’s philosophy. First of all the Manson’s name is written in a blood puddle. The blood appears in all the Manson’s shows: he simulates to cut himself on stage, referring to auto-mutilation acts, to masochism, to primitive pulses. This primitivism appears also in the practise of tattooing, a characteristic of the so called “modern primitives”, a practise usual in Gothic culture. This time the tattoo appears in his arm: an skull. The skull is a memento mori, another Gothic point of refletion. The illustration captures also some aesthetic extravagances, such as rings, make up, false contact lens and dog necklace. These elements have been copied by his many fans all over the world.

I think that Despau has been able to combine in a few traces, textures and colours, the most important charcteristics of Marilyn Manson, it´s a perfect resume of what Manson means.

More images of David Despau:



3 thoughts on “Illustrated Manson

  1. first off, great illustration. I think it is unfair to tie him down like a Gothic Icon, never really has or will ever be and he has not really claimed to be it either.

    He was a icon of the underground and the icon of the perfect american moms nightmare. For some he still is.

    He is a genius, but only if you are able to read between the lines and see how he can rap you/mass media/sheep around his fingers and we all go along with it.

    1. Dear Pixie J,

      Thanks for your comment. I respect your position about Marilyn Manson as a genius, but I think there are more interesting american dark bands and more talented. They belong to so called Death Rock: Christian Death, Mephisto Walz, Shadow Project and a genius (who commited suicide) is Rozz Williams. Try to find some music from them, you´ll like it for sure.

      All the best,

      Pedro Ortega

  2. I see him as a genius, not a musically genius and I have great respect for how he controls, trick and questions the media and not the other way around.

    Musically, he comes too short when it comes to Norwegian Black Metal. there is some wicked mines there. only goats, no sheep.
    but still thanks for the tips.

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