If you look closely on the right bottom corner on the front "Master of Puppets" sleeve, you will see two small letters, D.B. Have you ever wondered what they mean? They are the initials of Don Brautigam who did the cover painting. Don graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York in 1971 and has since made a living painting book and album sleeves as well as doing some advertising jobs. His list of clients is impressive, as he has worked with the largest names in music business, well-known authors, and companies. His clients include AC/DC, ZZ Top, and The Rolling Stones, as well as authors like Dean R. Koontz and Stephen King, and companies like Pepsi, Warner Communications and BASF.
The painting was done almost 20 years ago. Brautigam has done hundreds of paintings since then, so as he says, "my memory of this picture and circumstances are at best vague". Other sources have told me that the design was originally a sketch done by James. Don copied this sketch very closely and that is why the two hands are so hard to see, have the same color as the background, and have no nails. It was never intended to be like that. James has always been the creative part of the band. He designed the Metallica logo, and his black and white sketches have been used on many single covers like the live CD of "Nothing Else Matters", "The Unforgiven" seven inch picture disc and several "Fan Can" CDs which were sold to the members of the fan club only.
Right after I did the below interview with Don, the original 17" X 17" artwork was sold on Ebay for $7000 by Jon and Marsha Zazula. They were the owners of Megaforce Records and Crazed Management which was the label and management company for Metallica in the early 80s.
How long have you been painting?
I think I started painting when I was around four years old, and have painted almost everything including cars and motorcycles. Both of my sons, Jim and Dan, also started painting about four, and Jim is now in art school at The Cooper Union. This can be a great thing, as well as messy. I suppose my wife Diane thought of it as just messy.
When you give away a work of yours, like the "Masters of Puppets" painting, do you feel you are giving away a "part of you," or is it just another finished "project?
Although you get paid for the job and I am always happy to sell the originals, for me there is always the feeling of someone leaving home. In the end I am happy if someone wants them enough to buy them.
When you get the final product, a book, record or whatever with a large logo and title all over the sleeve. How do you feel about that?
For the cover of "Master of Puppets," I knew the area that would be used and great consideration on all jobs I do goes into the design with that in mind. I didn't do the logo for Metallica but I think it works well for the cover. Sometimes I think the color, selection of type, or placement on a job would not be my choice but that is not really my choice. Other times I am thrilled to see the results in a store. I have also incorporated logos on paintings that I wished I could have changed a bit.
Who contacted you when you got the job to paint "Master of Puppets?"
The usual process at that time with my agent was he would contact me and I would contact the art director. Since this goes back a few years I don't recall exactly how it happened.
The album was later released on CD with a much smaller cover. Do you think your illustration looks good on CD?
I think the album size shows more detail, but I do like the CD format. In some cases when I don't like the overall look of any job, I wish they were even smaller.
Do you get any awards, gold records etc, for the albums you have illustrated?
Yes, I have had a few albums selected for the Society of Illustrators show. Anthrax sent me a gold album and gold CD with my pictures on them, and they certainly made an impressive gift.
Anything you want to say to the Metallica fans?
Yes, I can only say I hope you enjoy the music, and in the end if you like the art I am happy.
NOTE: This is a short piece of a chapter in the book I am currently working on, "Master of Puppets - A classic album", so it is copyrighted. Sem