At this year’s NAMM show in Anaheim, California, groundbreaking blood-wielding surrealist Vincent Castiglia and SLAYER/EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt officially revealed a custom-painted Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar, detailed completely with Holt’s very own blood. The blood was drawn from Holt backstage after a SLAYER show on Long Island, New York. Castiglia collected 18 vials, all of which were used on the guitar.
Aside from marking Castiglia’s first use of a guitar as his canvas, this was the first time a guitar has ever been painted entirely in its player’s own blood. The guitar is not currently for sale and is not yet in production — this is currently an original, one-run design!
Earlier this month, Artisan News spoke to Holt and Castiglia about the collaboration backstage at SLAYER’s concert in Port Chester, New York. You can now watch the chat below.
Said Holt about his new guitar: “I’m able to go out on stage with a real genuine work of art that I’m able to plug into a shit-ton of amplifiers and use it as a tool. It’s not just a wall hanging… I mean, granted, it would look beautiful on any wall, but that’s not what it was built for; it was built for destruction. But it’s a thing of beauty; it’s something that’s breathtaking and it’s drawing a crowd everywhere. I’ve gone with that guitar on this tour since it made its debut in Chicago, and it’s just phenomenal. It’s one of the most talked-about guitars I’ve ever seen out there in the blogosphere.”
Castiglia offered the background story on how the production of this guitar came about: “While working on his torso piece, my client and friend Brian Werner (vocalist of VITAL REMAINS) suggested the possibility to me. I thought about the logistics, whether it would be possible or not, and figured hey, if I’ve been able to take my paintings and medium as far as I have already on canvas, why not do it on a guitar body? After some trial, and some extra preparation, it all worked out perfectly, and this guitar actually became what I’d cite to be one of my favorite, most detailed works to date. I pushed it as far as was physically possible in terms of detail. The subject matter, look and feel, and functionality of the piece are all in perfect line with my work.
“The piece is historical in that, to my knowledge (or the knowledge of Google), this is the first functional guitar in human history to have been created entirely in the musician’s blood. That puts it in a unique position, as it’s a functional piece of fine art that memorializes Gary Holt’s life’s work with his lifeblood, my mind and hands having been the vessel for its creation. It was an honor to work so intimately with Gary Holt and ESP on this project, which was, literally, ‘Bonded By Blood.'”
ESP director of artist relations and product management Chris Cannella added: “When this whole project came up, I was excited at the idea. I was already a fan of Vincent Castiglia’s work as an artist and tattooist, but this was something I was cautious of. Was it going to be another gimmick of blood in the ink, etc.? Blood drips or something easy to do? When I saw this come to fruition my jaw dropped! Such beautiful detail and accuracy!”
Vincent Castiglia withdrawing blood from Gary Holt photo credit: Lisa Holt