Isa Pilapil

Jormungandr : Tales of Revilement

by Isa Pilapil Please click images for a larger view.

This is a commissioned piece for the Taiwanese death metal band Revilement, whom Brimstone in Fire were fortunate to open for in the Davao, Philippines leg of their South East Asia tour.

Upon the release of their album Pillars of Balance in December 2011, they needed a corresponding design for their tour shirt. Recommended by a mutual friend: local underground events and music promoter, Alvin ‘Insane Bazooka’ Esperanza,  I submitted a crude sketch and hoped for the best.

Jormungandr Draft

The design was enthusiastically approved, and I was equally psyched about the project.

Instead of searching for ‘apocalypse’ references, I began expanding on their album’s predominant theme: ‘the fall of mankind’ by exploring ways to deconstruct various creation myths.  This is when I became reacquainted with the Norse mythical figure Jormungandr, or ‘Midgard Serpent’ who holds the world together by biting his own tail. Interestingly, Jormungandr also falls under an even greater archetype, the Ouroboros –one of my recurring subjects.

Depicting Jormungandr commencing the end of the world by finally letting go of his tail was an epic blueprint to begin with.

Here are stages of the pencil-work:

For the initial concept, the imagery for the back of the shirt included a Ptolemaic diagram of  the universe –ostensibly referred to as the Geocentric view. There is reason to believe that Ptolemy’s diagram was not an interpretation of planets and their orbits, but rather the Alchemical order of elements. The Ptolemaic Diagram of the Universe is from

Music of the Spheres

Each planet in the diagram above has a corresponding ‘element’ e.g. Mercury – Quicksilver (mercury), Venus – Copper, Mars – Iron, Earth – Fire etc. Earth is located in the innermost sphere of the diagram. Therefore, Jormungandr’s unraveling would not only destroy the world sphere, but disrupt the concentric outer spheres around it creating utter cosmic chaos.

Jormungandr Scaled by Isa Pilapil

I created this image digitally to represent what is going on in front in full scale. Together with the Ptolemaic diagram, the outcome was not bad at all –In fact, I even ended up with two versions.

Jormungandr + Geocentric Universe

However when I started drawing in the rubble,  the design elements started becoming visually cluttered. There was also something about the archaic fonts in the  diagrams that visually clashed with the serpent vector.

In my work, I always favor theoretical basis over visual appearance. However,  this was one of those rare (practically inconceivable!) occasions where design prevailed over reason.

The end results speak for themselves though.

by Isa Pilapil

by Isa Pilapil




Oil on pre-made wooden boxes with transparent acrylic lids


The Despair Series is a continuation of the Metaphysical Armor concept.

To ‘capture’ an idea I literally drew (or painted) using ‘nothing’. All the visual representations are illusions. Despair is an illusion. 






This series is also influenced by a Brimstone in Fire song that shares its namesake.

Music: Mikah Azurin, Alfredo Bunye & Christian Igna
Lyrics: Mikah Azurin
… Escape your brain and take control
life is not found safe at home
no one else can face your plight
so smash your cage and fly outside
Tear up the maps and walk past the edges
out to the zones where monsters will be
they’re waiting to teach you the wisdom you’re needing
so sit at their feet and learn how to see
Through the lies you sow to hide your blunders
the tricks that keep your pride intact
until you leave your fear behind
there’s no escape from despair


These works are part of a group exhibition called Regalo at Avellana Art Gallery. The wooden boxes were given to all participants to compose with.

Brimstone In Fire Glyph

This glyph was designed for our band, Brimstone in Fire.

The original design by Dondi Bunye, is literally the alchemical symbol for brimstone (sulfur) :

within the alchemical symbol for fire.


Below is the first attempt at the design, which I find quite crude in hindsight. The orientation of the letters is also Don’s idea, and it proved to be quite a challenge. It turns out that there is no accurate way to make text radiate and what-more, twist from a central point.

I decided to include this second picture of attempt number 2 which was botched from the start.  I don’t think I need to say what went wrong:

And finally the main picture above is the approved attempt no. 3

Here is our band’s website:



Oil on canvas

28 x 24″

This painting was created  for a local metal band’s album cover.

The image on the left was the original concept, however it never went past this underpainting stage because a better idea came to mind.

The female figure is a representation of the Biblical Eve after the “Fall” of mankind.  I wanted to explore the unseen implications behind that proverbial ‘forbidden fruit’.  The serpent, who prior to being punished allegedly had humanoid features, might as well have been a guardian of the Tree of Knowledge. Eve’s actions could have been a conscious choice.

There is no meaning in a life where one reaps fruits he did not sow.  

This is why there was discontent, even in Paradise.

*          *          *

Ouroboros Painting by Isa Pilapil

The image on the left is a small 1′ x 1′ oil painting created for the album’s compact disc.  It is a personal interpretation of the pre- “Fall” serpent.  This is the progenitor of my “Ouroboros”, a recurring theme in my works.




Here is how the two paintings in their final applications turned out:






Control Denied  “The Fragile Art of Existence” from the album The Fragile Art of Existence

Dirty Little Sphinx

Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave MoreauThis started out as a pencil drawing, which was eventually digitally manipulated.  I’ve always been fascinated by sphinxes and intend to create a whole series based on the subject –if not strange mythological creatures at least. On the left is one of my favorite paintings: “Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Gustave Moreau.

“Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”

Noneuclid “The Digital Diaspora” from the album The Crawling Chaos