Tool original Artwork, and a bit about me.

Tool original Artwork, and a bit about me.

Alex Grey does a good bit of artwork for Tool. Guitarist for the band, Adam Jones, has also contributed a lot to the gig posters in the past. However, as most folks reading this article already know, Tool has used artwork from different artists over the years to make a different gig poster for the shows they play. Most of the artwork on these is pretty incredible. The fanbase certainly thinks so, as they get snagged up quickly and sell out at most shows. Since the release of Fear Inoculum, posters have featured artwork by a lot of visual artists including; Adi Granov, Robbie Trevino, Allen Williams, George Milonas, Max Verehin, Jeff Nentrup, Eliza Ivanova, Miles Johnston, Chet Zar, Joyce Su, Mark Brooks, Carly Elizabeth Schmitt, Esad Ribic, George Milonas,  Sean Cheetham, Dominic Hailstone, Brandi Milne, Esad Ribic, Korin Faught, Adrian Cox,  Lori Nelson, Camille Rose Garcia, Benjamin Conallin, Charlie Immer, Dimitri Drjuchin, Ryan Heshka, Arcano, Natalia Fabia, Peach Momoko, Travis Lampe, Moon Patrol, Alex Kuno, Alejandro Mirabal, Deborah Sheedy, Simone Bianchi, Farron Loathing, Stanislav Szukalski, and even the late great-Frank Frazetta. And although, having a Tool poster to their credit isn't the pinnacle of their art career, it's certainly a nice feather in their caps. 

Tool gig Posters

Although opinions vary widely on Tool, I know that they have influenced me heavily in my artwork. I think perhaps making art is my way of attempting to rescue my own lost soul. Another thing that varies is their range of music, and I find myself resonating with most of it. From their first Ep through the entire catalog of work, the sound and the lyrics have captured my imagination for nearly 30 years. I've been lucky enough to hit a couple of their shows and plan to see them play in May 2023 at Rockfest in Daytona, Florida. So regardless if you're a fan of my art, or a fan of Tool's music, I'll cover some facts that would have anyone with half a brain appreciate the hard work that's been put in. 


Here's a couple of facts about the band. The members of the band seem to have fairly diverse backgrounds. Let's start with the beat. Danny Carey was ranked among the 100 greatest drummers of all time by Rolling Stone - 26th place according to the magazine. This guy played basketball, drums, and even jazz before he got out of college. He also studied percussion with theory into the principles of geometry, science, and metaphysics. His drummer influences came from Fusion, Jazz and Rock genres. He's contributed work to over a dozen other projects besides Tool. 


You can't have Tool without aggressive bass. Paul D'Amour was the first bass guitarist for Tool. He left the band in 1995 after recording Undertow. Since then he's done a lot of projects, including some with Danny Carey and Maynard. Justin Chancellor now plays bass. Since the 1996, Chancellor has been a full member of the band performing on the studio album Ænima. He uses an assortment of 3 and 4 string bass guitars, several amps, and effects to achieve a huge range of sound for the group. Like all good Tool members, he's worked on at least half a dozen other projects while a member of Tool. 

Adam Jones Tool

Rolling Stone rated Adam Jones the 75th-greatest guitarist of all time. His creative experience also expands into the visual arts with his sculpture, animation, and film work. He's played violin, double bass, bass guitar, but never took a guitar lesson. Unlike the other bandmates, most of his side projects have been in the visual arts. He's done special effects and soundtracks in Hollywood movies since 1993. He even co-wrote an X-Files comic mini series back in 2010. 


Finally we have the winemaking, record producing, songwriting, singer - Maynard James Keenen (born James Herbert Keenan). He had a different path than his bandmates. After high school, he went into the army before going to college. The band Green Jello, which I listened to in high school, seems to be the early link between he and Danny Carey.  Afterwards he went to LA to pursue a career in interior design and set construction. Soon after, he found Adam Jones. When Tool made it big, Maynard was reported as being a bit of a recluse, focusing on his wine making in Jerome Arizona. Since Tool, he has performed as the vocalist for Pucifer, and A Perfect Circle. He's worked on 17 full length albums, including 5 with Tool. These albums span five different bands over nearly 40 years. 

These four men, have shaped a sound that stands out from most any other music made, but you can continue reading about them on the internet if you like. Now it's at this point that I think of the cartoon Voltron. Remember that giant Japanese mega-bot that was comprised of 5 robot cats, that came together as one? It was a super force. Each cat was piloted by a different human member of the team. I guess you could think about any band in this way, but for some reason Tool comes to mind for me. 

Tool Poster Top

The dark melodies, touchy lyrical matter, and hypnotic beats and bass are what drew me into Tool at first. Long after I'd listened to their music, I began to look into what influenced the music. Although gathering some facts about each member is a good start, that is only the launch point. 46 and Two, for example, has so much packed into the lyrics, that I had to look into it. I wrote a synopsis of 46 and 2 then made a short video about it, to pair with the artwork I made in honor of the song.

Tool Poster Middle

Of course, being raised in the western world, being extremely screwed up from my childhood trauma, and having survived this long, I've gone to psychotherapy - for over 13 years now. One of my therapists considers himself a student of Carl Jung's work, and even has a role in the Carl Jung society. There was plenty of interesting and powerful material to choose from Jung's work, but Maynard chose to deal with the "shadow self" in the aforementioned song. My therapist acknowledges my "shadow self" work was initially started over 17 years ago when I got sober from drugs and alcohol, utilizing a 12 step program. Every few years, I seem to forget how truly awful I can be and start to judge others again. This invariably ends in a period of depression as I revert back to judging myself. I then know to reach down again into my shadow and reintegrate it into my daily life. This is usually a long process, that allows for healing, humility and and repair in my relationships. I think that's why forty-six and two is such a meaningful song for me. Besides this, I've made art influenced by lyrics from Swamp Song, and a large Tool fan poster made as an influence from all their work. I'll probably continue on this trajectory and hopefully I may get in contact with whoever is managing the gig posters. 

Tool Poster Bottom

Not that I want to compare my artwork to Tool, or my hard work to each of theirs, but I'll give you an idea of what effort and experience it's taken so far to get the work where it is today. Like most of you, I drew pictures as a kid. I got some praise and attention for it from adults, so I continued on when the rest of you retired your markers and crayons.

Original Tool Inspired Artwork - Adam Wellborn

Craving further attention and praise from my peers, I kept on making the art - even when I got in trouble for it at school. For this, I got put on a drug called Ritalin back when I was nine years old. This pharmaceutical, intended for the treatment of ADHD, has only one small compound difference from the street drug Crystal Meth. Ritalin hasn't been prescribed to children for a long time now. I guess they finally realized how absolutely terrifying it is for a child to take this wretched pill.

From the age on nine until about 15 years old, I took the drug most days. This put me into a cloudy panic state that I was unaware of. I knew I was terrified, but didn't know it was because of the medication. According to many therapist's opinions, 9 years old is the time when kids begin to develop the way with which they will communicate and interact with adults for the rest of their lives. While that may not be a hard fact, I can tell you this. From the ages of 9-15, I withdrew completely from any social setting and spoke as little as possible. I spent every spare moment drawing. I found that making art and listening to music to be my only solace in a hostile, alien world that I felt very separate from.

Over those six years I looked at every type of image that I came across. Photos, magazines, library books, an art history book that I stole, and comics that provided me with lots of source material for my drawings. With no one around to critique my work, as I had no friends, I was able to just get things wrong a lot, and eventually work through my mistakes and figure things out on paper. With little distraction other than the mandatory public school, sleep, and my parents' insistence that I attend church, I was drawing for nearly six years straight.

High School Art - Adam Wellborn

There were some neighborhood kids that I killed some time with, but they mostly made fun of me which made me withdraw even more into my artwork. When I finally figured out that the Ritalin is what had me so scared, so much of the time, I quit taking it against medical advise. Now, after having been on a drug everyday since I was 9, having endured plenty of school bullying during my time on the drug, then losing my grandfather (who acted as my dad) at 15, I was not okay inside. Naturally I turned to other drugs to comfort my pain and loss. At which point I also fell victim some sexual abuse by a much older adult. I got away from that, but not the drugs. They would stay with me for the next decade.

College Artwork - Adam Wellborn

I found friends for the first time in high school after getting off of the Ritalin, but needed pot to make friends. Later, I got into whatever felt good and worked fast to satisfy my insatiable need. After high school I continued drawing a little off and on as I worked manual labor jobs of all sorts. I even drew tattoo designs for trade with other inmates when I did some short jail stents. Finally, at the behest of my parents and some kind, and loving guidance of a manager at a factory I worked at, I agreed to apply to art school. I began attending classes at the Atlanta College of art when I was 21 years old. By this time I was a full blown alcoholic, but managed to graduate inside a regular four year term. I learned a lot in the cross curricular educational style that they borrowed from the Bauhaus School in Germany. I studied math, writing, art history, science and was introduced to many forms of making art. I spent some time in the design department, and later switched to Illustration for my major.

Artshows - Adam Wellborn

After graduation I floundered in marketing until my life just fell apart due to my heavy drinking. I was very alone. I was very sick. I was very depressed, and like always I turned back to drawing. I found myself in 12 step meetings, where I sobered up, and got back to living. I worked odd jobs for bit before getting back into marketing. I did web design, animated videos, and content marketing, all while making drawings and paintings throughout the years. From abut 2010 until now, I've been showing work off-and-on in galleries or cafes. Save a few years after graduating high school and few years during my sobriety, I've been drawing and painting since I was a child. Making art saved my life. At one point, drugs saved my life. Now, I guess I'm making the art in attempt to save my lost soul. 

Some Tool Inspired Artwork - Adam Wellborn

So unfortunately, or fortunately the dark sounds and subject matter of Tool resonates deeply with me. Sometimes it takes me to a dark place, and other times it helps to release me from dark spaces. If I've learned anything, it's that I know very little, relationships are all I have, I need to think less, I cannot predict nor control the future of anything, and I'll be best to embrace whatever comes as though I've made the decision to have it in my life. At this point, I think that is what my art is about. 



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