Introducing Khomatech, also known as Karol Lasia —the artistic genius behind some of the most remarkable covers of Ohm Resistance and VISION. While you can’t put his artworks into a certain category, it’s almost likely you have seen and remembered them. 

In terms of process, the artist creates his art using CGI – understand Computer Generated Imagery – which could nowadays be considered like ‘poppy’ and wrongly be associated with assets generated using AI-based models. In fact, his art is a testament to his talent and defies such simplistic associations. Expressive, intricate, monumental, or corporeal are just a few words that describe his impressive body of work.

With a career spanning nearly two decades and an extensive portfolio of projects, Khomatech has dedicated his life and passion to both visual art and music. While his contributions to the drum & bass scene’s overall aesthetic are significant, Karol’s artistic endeavors extend far beyond. He has also collaborated with other experimental music artists like Amon Tobin, Scorn, and The Blood Of Heroes, just to name a few.

Engaging in conversation with a creative monument like Khomatech inevitably leads to a lengthy and captivating discussion. In this interview, you’ll gain detailed insights into his creative process, his collaboration with Nik Roos from Noisia, and some of his favorite clients (including unexpected ones like Playboy). Additionally, Karol generously shares three exclusive artworks that were previously “laying around as concepts”.

Sit back, relax, and indulge in this interview, as Khomatech takes us on a journey through his artistic universe.

khomatech exclusive artwork

khomatech exclusive artwork

khomatech exclusive artwork

When did you start listening to electronic music and drum & bass in particular?

That must have been around the time Teebee released his ‘Through the Eyes of a Scorpion’ album. I was sold right away. As for electronic music in general, that started with Aphex Twin – Drukqs.

What interests you most about visual art?

I don’t know if I can answer that in any sensible manner. I was always drawing as a kid and being personally involved in playing or creating music never appealed to me much (nor did I seem to possess any natural talent in regards to it) so naturally I gravitated towards visual arts. The appeal is the same as it is for any artist in any discipline, I guess: to create something out of nothing.

When was the first time you saw the close connection between visual art and music?

Probably when we received an assignment in high school to create our own cover for an existing album. I figured I would use Photoshop instead of drawing or painting it like everyone else, and at some point, it, somewhat subconsciously, clicked that there might be a career in this for me if I committed to it.

Interesting, never had a similar task in high school. Not remembering which album it was?

I think it was a Sting album.

When you started to draw regularly, what were your first serious works?

My first paid commission was a cover for a mixtape on the Dutch drum and bass forum. That was a pretty big deal for me as it seemed to confirm to me that I could, indeed, make money doing what I love.

Some other notable commissions that come to mind were flyer designs for Major League, the largest drum & bass event in the Netherlands at the time, and getting to create artwork for Polar’s “In the End” album, to this day my all-time favorite dnb producer.

Polar - In the End artwork
Polar – In the End artwork

Considering what you’ve said it’s kinda unfair that you are not credited on this album’s page on Discogs. By the way, have you seen your pages on Discogs? I had already noticed that there are many release pages that don’t credit you.

Yeah, it’s par for the course in this industry, unfortunately. There are plenty of producers, DJs, and labels out there who won’t take ten seconds out of their day to put your name at the very bottom of a social media post consisting entirely of the image you created, a post that will reach thousands of people. I think a lot of visual artists in the music industry are treated like shit, and feel they are lucky to even get paid, so they don’t dare ask for the credit they deserve.

Can’t argue with that. I hope doing these interviews will help solve the problem of underappreciation.

You are still credited for a few Big Dada releases, which is a rather huge label. I guess those were some of your first covers. How did this collaboration come about?

I don’t remember exactly, I think Doubleclick (one-half of Two Fingers at the time) was a fan of my work and pitched it to the label. Those were fun.

Two Fingers - Instrumentals artwork
Two Fingers – Instrumentals artwork

By the way, why did you come up with the nickname Khomatech?

It was something Nik (Noisia) and I came up with as a moniker for a collaborative visual project we were loosely planning. Nik went on to do great things with Noisia instead, obviously, so that never took off. I decided to keep the name for my own artwork… and now I’m stuck with it, I guess.

It’s interesting because you and Nik’s works have a similar impact and you actually collaborated a few times. I’ll ask about it a bit later.

Can you name your own sources of inspiration? What influenced the formation of your style the most?

That’s a constantly evolving process, things that influenced me back in the day seem trite and meaningless to me today – and I would have hated some of the pieces I today have on my walls when I was younger.

One of my biggest influences, when I was starting out, was Dennis Sibeijn, who went by Damnengine online. I was always fascinated by his themes, process, and the general atmosphere he managed to convey in his work. While I’m trying to move away from the visceral, ‘dark’ stuff a little bit these days, I don’t think my work would look the way it looks today if it wasn’t for him.

Ectoplasm I by Damnengine
Ectoplasm I by Damnengine

Still, are there any main principles that you stick to? Apart from that your works are usually 3D.

If it works, it works. That’s as much attachment to principle as I want to commit to nowadays.

Indeed it’s hard to describe your output because it is so varied. However, your covers for Ohm Resistance do have distinctive designs — those dirty colors and sharp lines that I can’t help but associate with the label.

I’m actually working on my first Ohm Resistance artwork in years right now. Can’t say much more but it’s going to be something special.

Silent Killer & Breaker – Amongst Villains artwork
Silent Killer & Breaker – Amongst Villains artwork

The artworks that you made for the Blood Of Heroes albums look great, they really convey the atmosphere of those LPs and kinda remind me of the original film. Did you actually watch the movie?

I still haven’t seen it after all these years, haha. I probably don’t want it influencing the way I feel the art ‘should’ look.

The Blood Of Heroes - The Blood Of Heroes artwork
The Blood Of Heroes – The Blood Of Heroes artwork
The Blood Of Heroes - Remain artwork
The Blood Of Heroes – Remain artwork

Can you name your idols and favorite works in design, apart from Damnengine? Specifically in the music industry.

Tool’s ‘Undertow’ album art is no doubt my favorite of all time, and if I had to pick an artist whose work occasionally features on album covers, it’s Denis Forkas by far.

Tool - Undertow artwork
Tool – Undertow artwork

Your own best works, in your opinion?

Oh, whatever I’m working on at any current moment. I tend to strongly dislike my own work the older it gets. I can’t stand those two Blood of Heroes covers you just posted, for example, haha.

How do you get ideas for a cover design?

I always try to figure out what I’d like to create that’s new and exciting for me, something I haven’t done before. Could be a particular theme, style, look, palette… anything really. Once I have that figured out, I try to cram the concept for the artwork inside that framework and imagine how it might inhabit it, and what it might look like once those restrictions are applied.

This process probably runs counter to all conventional logic and common sense, but it’s what works for me as it forces me to keep reinventing myself. I hate settling for something I already did before, and I think it’s a trap way too many artists fall into. They develop a certain style and milk it until it becomes a boring gimmick.

You worked with Nik Roos on a few Noisia EPs. Considering he is a great visual artist too, the artworks turned out really awesome, especially the one for the Purpose. What was the working process like? Did you have separate duties?

Yeah, Nik seems to be one of those rare cases who can do it all. I’m very happy for him that Noisia became such an insane success story, but part of me will always wonder what kind of visual work he would have created if it hadn’t taken off the way it did.

Purpose was Nik’s idea from the start, he had already sketched out the spaceship that was to be the main subject of the piece by the time he approached me for the project, and he knew exactly what he wanted. I’d say we worked separately as much as we did together on that one. I find both methods have their place in the creative process – sitting behind a screen together and trying out a lot of new things in a short timespan is exactly what you want to be doing in the early stages when you don’t want to restrict yourself to a certain concept too much. This is definitely one of Nik’s strengths, he’s a lot more open-minded and willing to delete everything and start over from scratch if something isn’t working in the early stages, whereas I have a much stronger tendency to get married to the first strong idea I think I have – even though it might not be that strong after all in hindsight.

Once that’s done, it’s good to retreat and work on all the details solo so you can get in your own comfort zone. Afterward, you meet up again and re-assess everything.

I’m a big fan of collaborating with people who can be in the same physical location as you as it really adds an entirely new dimension to the process.

Noisia - Purpose EP artwork
Noisia – Purpose EP artwork

Was the Collision EP cover inspired by Akira? 

Noisia - Collision EP artwork
Noisia – Collision EP artwork
Akira manga art
Akira manga art

No doubt.

You did a lot more work for VISION Recordings. What was working with label management (including Noisia) like? Did you talk to the producers themselves before creating each artwork?

It was pretty easy-going generally as Nik was in charge of art direction and as such was quite capable of communicating his vision for the project. If only every label had a capable art director.

Thys & Amon Tobin - Ithaca artwork
Thys & Amon Tobin – Ithaca artwork

Also, I really wonder how you would describe the weird thing that you drew for Hybris – Extraction, I don’t know how to perceive it.

Fractal barnacle?

Hybris - Extraction EP artwork
Hybris – Extraction EP artwork

My favorite artwork of yours has to be Malux – Motive. It looks fucking epic, and I particularly love the choice and usage of colors. It also resonates with Malux’s music really well. Can you just tell a little backstory behind it? Was there a particular inspiration?

I don’t remember there being any specific inspiration for this piece. I wanted to keep it simple and create a typical sci-fi scene with a very large object in it. Finding the right camera angle to convey the scale was quite difficult so I ended up going for a more orthographic, head-on view.

Malux - Motive artwork
Malux – Motive artwork

In addition to the usual covers, you created animated versions of them, for VISION releases in particular. How much more difficult is it to come up with ideas and create videos compared to images?

Not much at all, as the concept has already been defined by the cover art. It’s a lot of additional work though, as animation is very time-consuming.

What drawing tools do you use?

Zbrush for modeling, Octane for rendering, and Photoshop / After Effects for compositing.

Many of your works have some kind of narrative. How important is it to you?

I think the narrative is everything, as subdued as it may be. Art is meaningless to me if it doesn’t tell a story somehow. I understand that this is all heavily dependent on the viewer’s interpretation but I see too much work out there these days that doesn’t bother to tell a story at all – at best, it rehashes old tales we’ve heard a million times before.

Can you tell an interesting backstory about any of your covers or some other work?

I once almost botched a large advertising project because my agent kept telling me to change the color of the bushes from brown to green, and since I’m colorblind, I kept sending him versions with bushes in all sorts of different colors except green, all while the deadline had passed already. This caused everyone a great deal of agitation, up to the point where I had to call a friend to come over and help me find the right color on my screen — a shameful but entirely true story.

Well, that’s a really shit story.️ So, if you are colorblind, how do you choose colors when you draw?

Haha, it all worked out in the end, thankfully I can laugh at this kind of stuff nowadays. I pick colors based on what looks good to me… just don’t ask me to name them or change them to specific ones unless you give me the exact RGB code.

I can see most of the colors just fine, I just often don’t recognize green as being green, etc. And usually just end up guessing them instead when prompted.

Do you have a cover with a hidden meaning/message that no one has revealed yet?

I think the meaning is always for the viewer to decide. I try to keep things as ambiguous as possible.

It seems like you set up a fruitful relationship with the label AGN7 Audio. What is working with them like?

VA - Reflection artwork
VA – Reflection artwork

It’s awesome, they give me all the time and creative freedom I could possibly need and always seem to be over the moon with the results despite very common delays on my part. I really try to do something unique for them at every opportunity.

Do you also like doing graphic design? You’ve done quite a lot of stuff for Warm Communications.

I like doing it as a supplement to a piece of artwork, provided I get to create both; figuring out the typography and logos that should go with it. On its own, it doesn’t appeal to me quite as much anymore.

Who was the most interesting artist/label to work with? Maybe you have a dream collab? What about a collaboration with another visual artist?

I have to be partial here and say working with Nik was always the most interesting, seeing as we had a lot of direct contact and I feel our ideas and processes complement each other well. We’ve also done quite a few projects at this point and I feel we always pushed the envelope whenever we sat down together.

AGN7 was one of the most interesting labels to work with as they basically gave me a perpetual carte blanche, which really forced me to push myself and break old boundaries that I might not have needed to break if the briefings had had more conceptual restrictions.

Another label I have to mention here is Don Diablo’s Hexagon imprint. I’ve been its lead cover artist basically non-stop since 2015 and it’s been a huge learning experience. The visuals aren’t what I’d normally create, and the music is not something I’d normally listen to, so I had to step out of my comfort zone to a substantial extent to make it work. I’m happy to say we’ve really nailed the look of the label over the years (and it has evolved quite a bit across 350+ cover designs), and Don is one of the most easy-going clients a designer could ever wish for. The conceptual restrictions that come with such a clearly defined label identity also offer a very welcome balance to all the projects I have where I’m fully in charge of every step of the process, as this can be quite an exhausting responsibility.

Playboy Magazine was the most interesting client outside of the music industry due to the high level of professionalism in every aspect of the process, from the quality of the articles I had to provide illustrations for, to the art direction, and down to the bureaucratic and financial details. Despite all of this, they still basically said “Just do your thing” and didn’t try to box me in whatsoever. I have very fond memories of working with their former AD, Rob Wilson, so shout-outs to him are in order here.

I would love to work for Wizards of the Coast at least once and am currently gearing my portfolio toward that goal. I’ve been an MTG fan since I was a kid, so I won’t take no for an answer on this one!

As for visual artists, I would love to work with, there are many. Working with Former has been great the few times that we were able to synchronize our schedules. We went through a pretty harrowing month together, working on his “Pleasure Model” video with Noisia, and I would love to do more personal projects with him as we tend to enjoy the same things visually but our own styles are quite different regardless. He never fails to surprise me with his ideas, both visually and musically.

Another artist I would love to collaborate with is Chase Stone, even though I, unfortunately, don’t know him personally. He’s a true master of his craft and I’d give up the metaphorical kidney to get a glimpse at his process.

What kind of illustrations did you make for Playboy? Can you send us an example?

They generally accompanied articles of a more serious nature, both fictional and non-fictional. Here’s one I made in 2009, for an article about the Mexican drug war raging just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

khomatech Playboy

And one about SETI, and the search for extraterrestrial life.

khomatech Playboy

Looks like you did some serious work there. How long have you been working on your longest project?

There are a few that took a couple of months each.

It looks like you are also into photography. As a fan of photography myself, I can understand the love for texture. I remember seeing a portfolio of your photos on your website, but it’s not there anymore — why so? On the Internet one can find your photos taken in Pripyat, I really like them.

It’s just not really on my radar anymore, I feel like I’ve gotten everything out of the medium that I could for now.

I am also unsure if your photos were ever used as record covers. Why not?

Not to my knowledge, haha.

[Actually, Karol used his own photo from Pripyat for an artwork for Nickbee’s Sounds of War EP]

Nickbee Sounds of War EP

Nickbee Sounds of War EP

You had already put out and sold a few artworks as NFTs. Do you ever create art with the intention to sell it as NFT? I wonder if there are plans to release more NFTs, including collaborations with producers like the one you did with PBDY.

At this point, every personal piece I create will most likely be available as an NFT. I just wish I had the time to do more of them.

The Crucible NFT
The Crucible NFT

I’ve read that among your clients were Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and Playboy Magazine USA… That sounds impressive, but I haven’t found any details.

Yeah, the Mercedes-Benz project was a long time ago, and unfortunately, the Cadillac NFT project was never published.

Can you tell us what kind of stuff you created for them?

I did a series of showroom posters for Mercedes, and Cadillac wanted an NFT image to commemorate the launch of a new vehicle. I’m not sure why they eventually decided to pull the plug – my assumption is the negative environmental connotations.

Have you ever had a bad experience while working on a project? Any canceled drawings?

Very rarely, but it happens.

Has there ever been a case when you drew something for music that you didn’t really like? How did you cope?

It’s definitely happened, more often in the past than now. I’d just focus on the fact that the client at least was happy with it and move on to the next project.

Would you like to add something?

Just an appeal to my fellow artists to always keep pushing the boundaries and never settle for less in an era where settling for less seems to have become the norm. Thanks for the interview!

Interview conducted in February 2022

Thanks to Khomatech for this in-depth interview. Don’t forget to follow him on socials and to support his work.

You can check the first chat of this interview series, with Uno, dedicated to putting in the spotlight visual artists from the bass music scene.