pol abran cantador - the man behind the poster
THIS PIVOTAL DESIGNER OF DOOM THINKS HIS work IS "total crap." WE DISAGREE.
Barcelona born and bred, this ex-pizza delivery guy is the self-deprecating spearhead of today’s 70s-style graphic boom. Pol Abran Cantador worked at a metallurgic factory before launching BRANCA STUDIO, a design house who’s created art for the likes of Fu Manchu, Skeleton Witch, Kreator, and Pentagram. What began as a fledgling hobby for friend’s bands, soon matured into a brand identity synonymous with the doom genre itself. From clever designs commemorating the godfathers of Death ‘n’ Roll, to one-liners that feel like an inside joke — Pol piques our fascination with the psychedelic occult imagery of 70s heavy metal.
We talked with POL about living slow and dying old—
Give us a little background ON yourself and Branca studio.
Pol Abran Cantador: “My name is Pol Abran Cantador. And I was born in 1984 in Barcelona, Catalunya. Branca it's a mix of "aBRAN-CAntador" and means "branch" in catalan. I started to study design at 24. Before I was working in a metallurgic factory and as a pizza delivery guy. I studied in the public design school from my hometown Sabadell, at 20 km from Barcelona city.”
Your work has an UNDENIABLE 70s graphic feel — what inspires your subject matter?
PC: “I always loved the aesthetics from the 60/70/80's but when I discovered the doom music, it was the final point to go for it. The graphics from Electric Wizard, old Sabbath, the Rise Above Records stuff like Church Of Misery, Uncle Acid, etc.”
There tends to be a stigma surrounding appropriated imagery. What’s your stance, and where do you draw the line between turning an image into something original and ‘ripping off’ artwork?
PC: “There's a thin line between ripping off and tribute, and I think everyone has his own line. I always feel very depressed about this. Because I think that my stuff is poorly creative -- this was just a hobby that became a monster. I started doing graphics for my friends bands, and now I'm working for "big bands," so I don't know. I think this won’t last too long. This is some kind of trend and some day people will forget about all this stuff I do and I will have to get back to delivering pizzas. Or work as regular graphic designer.”
doubtful. What’s your dream commission piece?
PC: “Every commission is a dream, because I never thought I would be able to work as a designer. But I guess I have to say Black Sabbath. Or something official related to Sabbath. Now I'm working for Zakk Sabbath- that’s the closest I have been to them. I'm working for the guy who played and recorded albums with Ozzy from ‘87 to 2010. That's crazy.”
How do you think Barcelona affects your work?
PC: “Well, there was a small but powerful doom scene in Barcelona and Spain back in the day between approx. 2004 and 2010. There were a few good bands playing doom as Great Coven (with Tas, who played bass in Electric Wizard after that) Moho, Warchetype, Lords Of Bukkake, Cuerno, and that’s where I discovered doom. Now there are not many doom bands. I book shows with Twin Souls- a booking crew of friends- and we have booked bands like Pilgrim, Acid King, Sourvein, and Acid Witch, but it is very hard to get European Tours to come down here. Especially smaller bands. There is a Barcelona Doom Fest too, but it is very irregular and doesn’t happen every year for the same reason; the scene is so small here, it's financial suicide for the guys who make it. But they have balls and have booked bands like Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Lord Vicard, and Candlemass.”
If you could show your work anywhere, where would it be and why? What would the atmosphere be like?
PC: “Roadburn Festival. Because it has been the house of doom for many years. Now it's more than that, but it would be a dream to have my stuff there.”
Describe your DESIGN process.
PC: “I ask a few questions to the band/client, I think of an idea, I take or buy the right photos and I do digital collage. Easy. I don't do sketches. I just go for it, this way I find unexpected things in a creative way.”
If you could do a collaboration with any living artist in any field, who would it be and why?
PC: “I would love to work with Ghost because they are very careful with the artistic direction in every single way. Or Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson. These dudes take a lot of care in the design of their movies.”
WE'D LOVE TO SEE YOU COLLABORATE WITH WES ANDERSON. What projects do you have in the works?
PC: “I finished two shirts for a classic European thrash band and I will start designing the new Lp of a guitarist that has recorded at least 4 of the most important albums of my life. And a lot of projects with small but awesome bands. I'm living a dream.”
What will be etched on your hypothetical gravestone?
PC: “Finally I can sleep forever! Doomlife.”
drink of choice?
PC: “Coffee or Red Bull. Not so doom.”
WHAT'S DOOM, ANYWAY. List ten songs on your playlist this month.
PC: “I can't say. I listen to music almost all the time. It’s one of the best parts about working at my own studio- I listen the music I want all the day. These days I have been listening to the collaborative playlists we do in Branca´s Spotify with everyone who wants to throw songs. We made playlists of Best of 2016, Doom, synth, Christmas songs, songs about Tolkien.”
What cheers you up when you’re feeling low?
PC: “My family. My wife, mom, dad, sister and in-laws. They are everything to me. And now we are all healthy and happy, so this is everything.”
tell us something no one knows about you.
PC: “I don't like what I design. I think it's total crap. If it wasn't for Marta, my wife and partner at Branca, I would not be working as designer. But I think that my closest ones know that.”