Adrian “Gift Revolver” Gutierrez – the incredibly talented illustrator from the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, California – is quickly becoming one of the most sought-out cover artists in hip-hop.
In addition to operating his “G.B. VIZION” comic book entity with his brother Steve “Supreme Logic” Gutierrez, Gift Revolver has created unforgettable, unique cover art and contributions for Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun, MidaZ The BEAST, CZARface and plenty more. If reputation and work ethic are prophetic, Gift Revolver is just getting started.
In the last year alone, Gift Revolver continued to build his own burgeoning G.B. VIZION and accompanying G.R. comic line while crafting covers for Wu-Tang’s The Saga Continues, Trife Diesel’s Project Pope II, 9th Prince’s The MadMan’s Revenge EP and one of three legendary covers for Observe Since ’98‘s Return of the Savage.
Observe Since ’98 on Gift’s Illustration:
“Gift had been around for a hot minute but he really caught my attention when he did the artwork for the MidaZ The Beast album we dropped. As soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted him to be one of the artists for Return of the Savage. His style is so gritty and raw.” – Observe since ’98
On the heels of the recently-released Return of the Savage project (April 2019), Gift Revolver looks to build on a prolific calendar year via consistent creativity, iconic imagery and fortuitous frequency. With several collaborations and projects already lined up or completed, expect Gift Revolver to blow up in the art and hip-hop worlds in 2019.
Read below for incredible behind-the-scenes looks and stories on some of the best album covers created in recent memory!
ON ARTISTIC BEGINNINGS
I discovered I was ahead of my classmates artistically in first grade. I wasn’t super-advanced but noticed I was ahead of most of the students in my class. I remember drawing a half-animal, half-human creature running out of a cave. It was crude but my classmates thought it was pretty cool! I also have a lot of family members who have talents with art. My pops used to draw U.S. military soldiers, tanks and planes along with other foreign Armies.
Both my older and younger brother and sister also draw. My brother would draw Magic Johnson and other Lakers while my sister would draw Madonna and New Kids on the Block among other things when we were younger. My grandmother and aunt also used to draw a ton of Disney stuff for fun. From that point on though, I just kept at it for school projects.
Later – in maybe fifth grade – I was introduced to comics by my mom’s next-door neighbor’s son. He gave me a black-costume Spider Man issue and that sparked my attempt at drawing comic book characters. I wish I still had that issue; it was really a turning point for me during my youth.
ON IMPORTANCE OF ART FOR YOUTH
Art is freedom. As kids, we were always being told what to do and when to do it. Art is an escape from being ruled. It also allows you to pursue your interests visually. Art becomes story. You can tell whatever story you want. Art also helps to build confidence, determination and dedication in kids if it’s pursued more seriously. It becomes challenging to improve so that takes a level of focus.
The good thing is it’s the ultimate ice-breaker to make friends, and if you really want to be bold, it’s an ice-breaker with the fly ladies! If you have your eye set on a cool shorty, draw her favorite character with a little note and bong bong… you the man!
ON BLENDING ART AND HIP-HOP
One name: André Leroy Davis. The final page at the end of The Source Magazine. Those illustrations were cool as hell! They were comical but had that hip-hop grit and grime. They also always had a small story to it. We all see hip-hop artists as superheroes with varying abilities, so to see those images was to see our favorite classic artists in a cartoon/comic book-type form. There was a point in time where I declared to myself personally that “Gift Revolver” would become a household name in the underground hip-hop community for a quality of work similar to André L. Davis.
I’d like to think my hip-hop illustrative work is cut from Mr. Davis’ cloth.
André Leroy Davis on Gift’s Illustration:
I was and am just a lover of art, Hip Hop, comics, super heroes. politics and comic books so it was just natural for me to visually tell stories utilizing a combination of things that I loved and that meant something to me.When it comes to originality, work that connects with people, doesn’t lie. Creating art and Hip-Hop I knew what I was talking about, because I lived and breathed Hip-Hop. My sense of humor and who I am is in your face so my work strongly reflected that. I was creating something that no one else had created or was creating. I had not been seen before so it through folks at first and then they quickly connected to it. I believe that strong art that says something will always influence folks and inspire those who are ready to hear, listen and create.
ON WU-TANG CLAN CONNECTION
I received a DM from an Instagram friend named Brandon; I believe he is out of the Bay Area. (You can find him on Instagram as @ALLOUTFOUL. He has a super dope line of hats and tees – peep him!) He hit me with some potential work for Allah Mathematics. I think he may have recommended me to Math as a potential artist for covers and design. For a short time, he worked as a buffer for communication about some ideas.
Soon after, Allah Math reached out to me personally and we started working on things over the phone. He even invited me to a show when he was in L.A. and we got to meet and chill in person. I was mad nervous! That was an exciting night for me for sure and I’m grateful he extended himself to me like that. He really didn’t have to and I’m really appreciative for that! I’m also extremely thankful for Brandon reaching out and facilitating that whole relationship. I made sure to kick him down a percentage of monetary gain for that! You’ve got to take care of the people who take care of you; that’s the code.
Through Math and also 9th Prince, I was able to meet a handful of Wu-Tang members and just absorb some of that energy. I got some other things already in the stash with Math that the hip-hop and Wu universe may see in the future.
ON SELECTED PIECES
I actually reached out to 9th Prince via Twitter. I wanted to do some work for him because I’m a long time Killarmy fan. He responded wanting me to do some simple Photoshop work for one of his singles. We jumped on the phone and I told him it was a must I lace an illustration instead. It wasn’t the original plan but he figured he’d give me shot. What came was “War on Everyone”.
We continued to play phone-tag here and there and eventually he hit me with the idea of his project The MadMan’s Revenge EP. 9th already had the project done and already had the idea for the art. He was real specific on what he wanted on the cover.
When he told me he wanted to be holding Freddy’s head in his hand while wearing the Michael Myers mask and outfit with Jason brutally defeated… I was like, “Holy shit!“
I was excited it was going to be an October Halloween release and I thought it was an omen to see the new Halloween movie was actually coming out at the same time! I hopped on Google to find some reference photos for Freddy’s glove and face as well as the other characters. I took a photo of 9th off his Instagram page and used that as my reference for his face. I usually create folders for projects on my desktop with all reference photos inside them. That’s always my first step before any project.
The work itself was a little grueling but it came together well. I can say I was able to bring the idea from my head to the paper pretty damn good. I’m really proud of that work and 9th really gave me props on what I brought to the table! At first I just had a moon in the background but 9th recommended I put some crows flying around and then he suggested I remove the moon and place a glowing Wu-Tang sign there to shine as the moon! Once I added that it was a wrap and the official visual representation of The MadMan was born!
After I completed the “War on Everyone” single artwork, 9th hit me up when he was in L.A. with the Clan. He invited me out to run the streets with him to two different Wu-Tang events. We hit a Santa Monica spot where The Clan performed for a Wu Wear event and later that night to a spot near the STAPLES Center where GZA and the Clan had a show.
It was super dope and weird at the same time. 9th got me in the backroom with RZA, GZA, Cappadonna and Masta Killa. RZA greeted me and I got to see something super dope: right before the show, Cappadonna was in the corner bumping Big Pun on his phone. In my opinion, he was getting lyrically / mentally pumped up to perform. I thought that was the dopest shit ever! I didn’t say much back there; I was just taking it all in. So shout-out to 9th for that, I’m grateful he allowed me to tag along! As a fan it was cool to run around with him and get into a bit of Wu action!
My work with Allah Math started with the “Hood Go Bang (remix)” single. I kind of was given free-range on this one. I was given the track name and artists featured and just went to work. Exciting and scary because I’m assuming Math had some confidence in me, but scary because I had to bring something to the table entirely by myself. Naturally I felt a bit of pressure but the excitement of drawing that lineup blurred the anxiety.
I decided to go with the standard comic book cover and by that I mean just typical characters standing together. I made sure the poses and mean mugs matched the idea that the hood does indeed go BANG! I put a butcher’s knife in Rae’s hand, Meth had a blunt lit because that’s what Mef do; I gave Redman the “I’m down for the smoke” look and I gave U-God an almost classic prison-style pose and crouch in the corner. In the middle of all that is Math throwing the Wu-Tang sign at the viewer because he’s the God who’s bringing you this new chamber of Wu-Tang sound.
The Saga Continues album art was a little more simple as far as instruction. The idea was to remix the original cover and make the members more identifiable but keep the same layout and design with the buildings, title and dragon. Originally it was suggested to try and include Killah Priest if possible, but I found it too hard to squeeze him in with all the current members and background.
I looked for reference photos for each member that fit the stances I had for the layout. I purposely put Math, Method Man and Red together because they operate as a unit on the road and I put RZA, O.D.B and GZA together because they are blood family. Up top I have Ghost hovering over Rae in Cuban Linx fashion and had them flanked by Deck, U-God, ‘Donna and Masta Killa. We actually have another variation of this cover with a darker sky and darker dragon that looks a little more grim, but it wasn’t in-line with the original cover so I made the proper adjustments. That took me about a week to bang out. I chipped at it and hit the deadline on the dot with final approval from Math.
If Wu-Tang ever has a museum, I’m hoping they place that in the building.
TRIFE DIESEL: PROJECT POPE II
The Trife project was done in stages. I first started by designing a logo for him to use for the project. After that, we moved on to a suggested photo by Trife himself to be illustrated. Once I nailed the resemblance and color for that, he suggested a background that fit more of what he felt the project represented. One of my instructions was to play off the first Project Pope cover since this was a follow-up version. I had two large doves flying from behind him along with his neighborhood and fellow associates
I tend to always go with dark vibes so I had the cover looking a little more tough, dark and menacing with actual fire flames burning around his body. I also had a closed book on the floor beneath him. After soaking in the vibe of the cover, Trife decided a more vibrant and uplifting spirit should be depicted on the cover instead. He suggested we remove the doves and add children playing, bringing more color to the crew behind him as well as brightening the sky and opening The Book Of Trife below his feet and placing a microphone in it.
Now that I think about it, it kind of acts as a book-marker in the story of Trife’s book about what he has seen in his more recent years of his life. Oh, we also added a chalice on the floor beside him.
I found it interesting a little later on, the Migos released their project called Culture II that had two doves flying in a similar fashion above their heads on the album cover. Overall, this cover experience for me was a bit more staggered; we felt our way through it. It came out nice and Trife really put the cover and logo work on the forefront and even had it heavy in the music video for “Multimedia”. Peep it!
THE PERCEPTIONISTS: LOW RESOLUTION: THE PATEN LOCKE REMIXES
I reached out to Akrobatik via e-mail sometime ago; a few months later he hit me with a logo he wanted me to take a shot at for his group with Mr. Lif called The Perceptionists. I banged out a cool one you may see in the future. A few months later, Mr. Lif reached out to me about a cover job for the Low Resolution Remixes.
I had a few phone conversations with Mr. Lif and really dug his energy. He seemed extremely genuine, transparent and down-to-Earth. Those are qualities I love to engage with – especially in business. Lif and Ak seem like real genuine dudes; that’s amazing to experience as a fan.
The project was a straight shot. Lif sent me a specific photo to illustrate and I did just that! He sent me the cover fonts and boom – done deal. We experimented with a version of the cover where energy is coming out of Lif’s hands and Akro is holding the Earth in his palm. It looked super-cool but I don’t think it was what the art needed. I wouldn’t mind doing more work for the fellas in the future.
Akrobatik on Gift’s Illustration:
“I saw Gift’s work on IG and immediately wanted him to do something for us! The attention to detail in his work and his ability to bring an animated feel without being too cartoony was super-dope and perfect for artists like Lif and myself. Salute to him and his sick talents!” – Akrobatik
CZARFACE: “MEDDLE WITH METAL”
I acually illustrated an image of the character Czarface one day on my own as fan art. I was curious to see what my own take on that character would be. I sent it to Esoteric and just told him if he ever needed work to hit me up. You can find that image on the first page of the comic I illustrated for Czarface called “Meddle with Metal”.
A few months later Eso took me up on the offer and gave me the opportunity to illustrate a small story about the first time he and DJ 7L met and worked with Inspectah Deck. It’s a cool story about how a cat almost spoiled their first recording session. I know Eso is a big animal lover so I thought it was cool a cat was involved.
He sent me the script he wrote and just told me to bring it to life! I remember drawing the first pages at my kitchen table and just tripping out on the fact I was drawing a Czarface comic book! I only told my brother and my wife at the time what I was doing. I was just bugging out; it was a special deal to me.
I also remember receiving my check in the mail for the work and realizing, “Hell yeah, I can get used to this!” haha. It was an amazing feeling to realize it was also in record stores across the country. Thanks, Eso!
The final pages I submitted to Eso were what you see in the book with maybe two small corrections he suggested. Very minor details but true to the character and story. Other than that, it was smooth sailing. I’m thankful for the opportunity and now I am forever a part of the Czarface saga! Wait! A piece of art from the comic is also part of the newest Czarface meets Ghostface project in the music video entitled “Mongolian Beef”! The video literally came out the day I wrote this!
DJ 7L on Gift’s Illustration:
“I came across Gift Revolver’s work through Instagram, I was a big fan of what he was doing and thought he would be a great fit for some things we had coming up. When we started working on the ‘Mongolian Beef’ video, we had some images already floating around and knew he would be good to add to the mix.” – DJ 7L
I remember pulling into the Ralphs Grocery store parking lot bumping my car stereo. As I was about to get out, I saw a Facebook DM from legendary producer Domingo. I never really had too many personal exchanges with him so I figured it had to be important. When I read that he needed some art for the latest Big Pun release, I was like, “Holy shit…” haha. I jumped at the opportunity. It had turned out the original cover came into some legal issues because it had a good part of Marvel‘s Punisher logo front and center. New York graphic designer Arewhy did a great job on it but it couldn’t be used. So because of that I got the shot to throw my dart!
The art was simple and straightforward. Domingo suggested an Incredible Hulk vibe of crashing to the floor, smashing the ground along with some records. An early idea was to have names on the records – one of those names being Lil Wayne – but the space was too small to be legible. I initially had Pun’s back larger and exaggerated but Domingo said it was too much and it threw off Pun’s natural anatomy. He was right.
After I illustrated Pun, we had to figure out a backdrop and we were stuck. What I ended up doing was cropping a section of the original design that Arewhy did that had the Puerto Rican flag and Photoshopped it onto my image. I sent that over to Domingo and he said, “That’s it!” So I sent my illustration to Arewhy and he added his background graphics to it as well as the fonts and comic cover template.
It’s some of my older work but it’s so strong to this day. When I look at it, I feel like Pun is still alive!
Pun’s wife Mrs. Rios went on to produce t-shirts, socks and other merchandise. Another cool thing was Domingo and Mrs. Rios paid for and mailed me a collector’s plaque for the project that has the CD and cover art on it with my name and a special thanks. It’s the closest thing I have to a platinum plaque, haha. Grateful.
Domingo on Gift’s Illustration:
“I was looking for someone I knew was excellent in bringing an image to life when I was doing the Big Pun Bronx Legends Never Die project. I immediately knew who would be perfect for it: my brother Gift Revolver. Because his artistic work is unmatched in this field and he came through for me just like I knew he would.” – Domingo
ON CREATING ON BEHALF OF LEGENDS
It’s a special fleeting feeling. I’m a self-taught artist and I worked hard to improve and get to the place I’m at now. It’s extremely rewarding in a sense that these artists believe in me and my ability. It’s the closest feeling to a legend asking me to rap on a song with them. Some of the projects I’ve done were literally bucket list items for me personally.
The best feeling of all this is feeling respected for my craft by the culture’s literal pillars. I am hip-hop.
The fleeting feeling is the actual experience comes and goes and the work itself may disappear just as fast. Today’s climate calls for a constant new stimulation every other day. Even some of the aging fans in hip-hop have been reprogrammed to experience music in a microwave fashion completely different from the days of The Chronic and Doggystyle.
But one thing that’s super-special to me is the bragging rights. Hey, I’m also now a part of Wu-Tang history! But the work doesn’t stop and I need to get even better at what I do. So let’s get back to work!
I have a project with Chino XL that is supposed to drop. Chino is a longtime friend of mine who’s always brought me and the homies along during his career. Hands down my favorite emcee. Chino sent me a handful of rough cuts and it’s crazy dope! I can say I’ve never heard Chino over this specific sound and energy. It’s different and believe me when I say I’ve studied his work. Look for that.
In 2019, you may see some more work from me along with Allah Mathematics and Wu. I have a few projects scheduled with 9th Prince, as well. One potential collab project featuring Killah Priest called “KillahPrince”. I wasn’t able to draw Killah Priest on The Saga Continues cover but I find it interesting that I may be drawing him for another project. Funny how things happen. Also, a follow-up 9th Prince Madman project. I really dig that second identity. Stay tuned.
Also, you will see me with my longtime partner in crime MidaZ the Beast. We have a few projects in the stash ready to go. Don’t sleep on the Beast. If you haven’t looked up MidaZ, do the knowledge!
Other than that, I’m steady working on my comic book “G.R.” which is Gift Revolver. It’s a free webcomic we do that features a lot of our favorite hip-hop artist doppelgängers. A dark story but some fun guest lookalikes. It’s a collaborative project with my older brother Steve Gutierrez a.k.a. “Supreme Logic”. The story is a slow drip because I’m constantly working on several projects, but we post new panels as I complete them.
When a book is done it will go up for sale as a physical copy. Hit http://www.giftrevolvercomics.com
Lastly, I’m working on a scary stories / The Twilight Zone-type of magazine I’d like to get into comic shops later this year. That’s the scheduled agenda. But we will see what God really has planned! PEACE!