Hobbits, heavy metal and an artist

An apocalyptic explosion of pyramids with the hint of heavy metal is just what Nick Keller intended for the album cover of Beastwars.

The former Tauranga Boys’ College student has just won ‘Best Album Cover’ at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards with an imaginative original design for Wellington based band Beastwars.


The design that won Nick Keller the ‘Best Album Cover’ award at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

This 28-year-old has one creative mind, producing the cover from a brief provided by the heavy metal band.

“I really loved the idea – the band wanted it to show a really apocalyptic event,” says Nick.

“I used a lot of symbolism and played with the scale and different levels of pyramids.”

Nick worked his way through the process from original sketches to oil on canvas, before creating the finished product with a touch of enhancement from Photoshop.

“I worked with the band on the concept and tried to incorporate elements of the band into the design. They let me have free-reign. I created two paintings for the front and back cover.”

Nick has spent the last five years working for Weta Workshops in Wellington.

In his role as a concept designer, Nick has created original costumes and armour design for the characters and creatures of Narnia and the Hobbit.

“I have been working on the Hobbit for the last two years. I think the hardest part is coming up with new ideas. It has been intense lately with all of the filming happening.”

Having pursued art for most of his life, Nick is aware of the differences in opinion when it comes to art and says he loves the design, but others may not.

“I think art is subjective and some people may not like it.”

One person who loves Nick’s work is his mother Dawn.

“It’s really interesting when you see Nick’s work in its original form on canvas it is just amazing.”

Dawn says Nick has always been good at art getting 100 per cent in School Certificate Art.

“When all of the other children were drawing with crayons, Nick was drawing really recognisable things.”

While at college, Dawn says Nick was given a lot of encouragement and motivation by his art teacher Grant Thompson.

“Grant was a really great mentor. He made him believe in his talents.”

Nick finished college in 2001 and went to Auckland University to study civil engineering, but later decided to follow his passion for art.

Winning this award has opened doors for Nick and he is currently collaborating with other artists.

“This is something I really enjoy working on. The award has spawned a lot of job opportunities for me and I am working on a few other interesting projects.”




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