Darkness season looms. Before it arrives, we wanted to check in with Justin Bergo, our 2021 Darkness Artist. The Mankato-based illustrator’s design will be released to the world at large this Friday (October 1) before the beer’s release on Halloween. We asked him about his influences, his background, and where you can buy more of his stuff.
What is your background as an artist? How did you get our start?
I started drawing when I was young. My uncle used to write for TSR, Inc., the company that made Dungeons and Dragons, and he gave me some monstrous compendiums as a gift. I was hooked. I took those home and started drawing and tracing the monsters in those books. Soon after that I was collecting comics and drawing Ninja Turtles and monsters on everything, which has continued my whole life. I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a BFA in Art with a focus in drawing. My time at school focused my skill and broadened my outlook. I ‘ve worked commercially as a freelancer and done commission work ever since graduation.
What are some other projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve curated gallery shows and smaller showings for my art throughout Minnesota. I’ve also done commissions for projects throughout the gaming space, plus some album covers for bands that I love. I am excited to explore where this great opportunity with Surly leads me.
Who are your influences, artistic or otherwise?
I draw influences from all over but I would say music is one of my biggest drivers. Music plays such a huge part of my life. While I was drawing this beast for Surly I was listening to a lot of Minnesota HC and punk: Disembodied, Threadbare, Man Afraid, Rad Owl, D4. I also went across state lines with a mix of Touche Amore, Brutus, Pup, and Spanish Loves Songs. And of course, Propagandhi. Propagandhi is always in there somewhere.
Off of an impossibly long list of inspirational artists I have learned / stolen from I would mention these: Aaron Horkey, Brandon Holt, Ivan Belikov, Berni Wrightson, Jason Knudson, Robert Longo, Chuck Close, Ralph Steadman, H.R. Giger, Brom, Jeff Easley, Jae Lee, J.M.W. Turner, Francis Bacon.
All sorts of mediums and styles. I know the list is long but if a few people can find a new artist from it, that would rule. And of course that is just a drop in the bucket.
If someone wants to check out or buy more of your art, where can they do so?
What is your favorite Surly beer?
My favorite surly beer?! I have to say DARKNESS!!! I was introduced to Surly through Darkness so that is it. Now I get to work on this year’s bottle? Darkness for sure. My everyday sipper? Furious.