Somewhere Between The VCR Heads

Another record cover I designed recently has been getting a surprising amount of love… Nu:Logic’s second album ‘Somewhere Between The Light’ has been out for a couple of weeks now, and is my first Instagram post to not just reach but blow past 100 likes!

The design is a homage to old VHS packaging, which was an idea suggested by Nu:Tone and Logistics themselves. It was down to me to turn this idea into a record package, which tied together nicely with a retro thumb-hole cutout, printed inner sleeves for the records, and a solid black jewel case for the CD version too.

Even the shrink wrap looks good with the thumb hole design. Nice!

My Favourite None-More-Black Client

Critical Music marks its fifteenth anniversary and hundredth catalogue number today with the release of a super-limited-edition boxset I designed.

The design is intended to be part fanzine, part ultra-minimalist blackness, and contains five (!) pieces of black vinyl, in black sleeves, with a black booklet and black poster, in a matte black box with a gloss black print on it. Short of being made of vantablack, it’s like how much more black could I make this artwork for Kasra, and the answer is none… None more black.

To celebrate the blackness (and to torture myself photographically), here are a load of photos of black objects from the package, set against a black background.

Clean-up in Sector Six

I created the above illustration for Barbican’s Sci-fi poster competition. Clean-up in Sector Six imagines a team of domesticated robots commissioned to travel into junk orbit and collect the space junk that is floating out there. Inside their rocket ship, they dismantle the trash they capture, and after sorting it for valuables, use the rest as fuel for their engine that powers the ship. They’re kind of like space wombles! Of course, because their job is cleaning, they can’t help cleaning up their ship perpetually as well.

Here we see a robot vacuuming the vacuum chamber

I do like to think about junk orbit from time to time. Some of the stuff floating around up there would have been the most expensive objects ever created in their time. Now they just hover around out there, trying not to cause any accidents. Kind of like how I feel on the internet.

A Quick Cuppa

Here is my latest and greatest record cover artwork! It’s for St. Petersburg’s Bop, and a collaboration between Med School and Microfunk.

Bop wanted the artwork to look “pretty but a little bit dangerous so you wouldn’t drink it”. I tried using petrol to get a thin-film effect, but it made my Rickmansland studio smell like a garage. After a different approach, I ended up on this psychedelic cup of cha. It’s one of my favourite pieces of artwork in a little while, and it’s out today!

Another Post-it sketchbook is filled

Since I started making an effort to publish a new Post-it note every day, these books have been filling up a lot faster! I filled up my latest sketchbook in February, and it covers the time from Summer 2015 to now. It’s like watching my life flash before my eyes!

Let’s Make Tortillas!

I’ve got into the habit of making my own fresh flour tortillas. They’re more satisfying and less alarming than the store-bought ones you get here in Britain, and as a bonus you can make them the right size for the job, instead of the not-quite-burritos-but-too-big-for-tacos one-size-fits-all approach they have here.

They’re not difficult to make either, but things do start getting a bit jugglesome when they’ve finished their second rest and it’s time to cook them. I usually find I could do with several extra pairs of hands between the rolling out, transferring to the pan, flipping, and putting in the tortilla warmer, which happens on loop until I’ve run out of dough.

Several extra pairs of hands, or a squad of small robots! I realised the process was prime for the production line treatment.

Tortilla Production Line

As ever, this is an animated gif that loops about every second, but there is a lot more to look at than just one second of looping. As the dough disappears off the bottom and top (under its cling film), you have to imagine it’s going to rest for twenty and ten minutes respectively.

These robots are doing a pretty legit job of making these tortillas otherwise. We’d need an army of hungry people to eat them before they go stale though!

2016’s Christmas Card

STOLLEN

Lilly and I were busy travelling a bit this autumn, so Christmas cards became a bit more of a clandestine operation than in past years. As usual, we struggled to come up with a design. When I sent Lilly a sketch of this it made her laugh, so in absence of a better idea I took a punt on it.

When the plates arrived, Lilly was worried that it wouldn’t be understood by most of our recipients, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be weird. Our rotund Santa has stolen the stollen (which wasn’t the only thing we believe to have been stolen in 2016… Ahem).

Decent impression

I went for slightly smaller cards this year thinking I would do a design that didn’t max out our tiny press so much, but I still ended up pushing the tiny Adana’s limits. We got surprisingly good results out of it though, and the silver ink highlighted the reasonable impression it made too!

Appendix: A Nice Way to End a Strange Year

It’s not often you get the opportunity to revisit a commissioned design project, but it happened to me this year. To close out their twentieth year in business (and the coincidental timing of the big-number NHS300 in their catalogue), Hospital has published another book.

NHS300: Appendix

We called it Appendix, which I’m sure my more loyal followers wouldn’t be surprised to hear was my idea, given my puntastic instagram feed. It’s a 180-page hardback book, approximately the size of a 12″ record, that comes with a six-track EP of collaborations between some of the label’s current album roster. It’s a proper coffee-table art book!

Appendix: Identity

NHS300 is like a bigger, better version of NHS200. As well as being a lot larger and more robust physically, it also includes a lot more content. Naturally, it includes all of the label’s history and artwork roots, a lot of which has been expanded upon and rephotographed for the project.

Appendix: Early Logistics

It also encompasses the five years that have (unbelievably) happened since NHS200. In that short time, there has been a hundred more releases on Hospital, another 38 on little-sister Med School, a huge shift in the stable of artists working on albums for the labels, and countless ever-growing parties, all of which is covered in this book.

Appendix: New Blood

As well as rethinking the design of the book from the ground up, another new feature is more writing from me! I seem to have made a bit of a career at Hospital of writing silly things on products as placeholder, only to have the label staff tell me to leave it there as they like it.

Ricky's RejectsThis has come out in Appendix in the form of a running ‘Ricky’s Rejects’ section, where I pick out some of my favourite record covers that never were and explain why they didn’t make the cut. From my first-ever album project at Hospital a decade ago, all the way up to NHS298, things are still getting caught in the filters, and I pick out some of the highlights. You’ll have to get the book to see them!

Appendix: Are We There Yet?

Appendix: 2016

I also got to illustrate a unique cover for this, which is another satisfying improvement over NHS200. It’s a hospital room entangled with all the things that make Hospital Records what it is – music, medicine and making things, which I hope is reflected in this book!

To promote the book, Hospital MD Chris came out to my studio in the shires and we chatted about some of the artwork highlights from the catalogue. You can see the video (and some odds and ends from inside my world!) here:

NHS300: Appendix is being sold exclusively on the Hospital Shop. It’s a totally limited product – we won’t be manufacturing any more once they’re sold. So if you want one, you can have it, and just in time for Christmas too. They’re shipping now! It’s an essential object for fans of the label.

Appendix: Spines

Lost In The Mail

“This isn’t what I expected when I said I was looking for a more fulfilling job”

PackagesPackagesPackagesPackagesPackagesPackages

A recent experience of having a letter go missing in the postal system inspired another looping factory gif. This one is simultaneously simpler and more complicated than the previous robot-laden ones – there’s a lot less happening in this one, but it’s also a seamless tile. That means this one loops in three dimensions – horizontally, vertically and in time.

A bit like my missing package!

US Presidential Election Diary 2016

US Presidential Election Diary 2016Where's The Beef?

The hardest part about drawing a new illustration on a Post-it note every single day is coming up with the idea. The horrors of the US presidential election campaign, though, provided plenty of low-hanging fruit. Join me as we look back across the past year-or-so in horror – it’s the scariest American invention since Halloween!

The Primaries

Bernie Bucket

16th November 2015:

Panic ensues in Rickmansland over whether Bernie is a Sanders or a Sanders. I remember back to my Year 9 English class, taught by a Mr. Sanders, who stipulated he was Sanders, and not like the KFC mascot. Unfortunately for me, sixteen years later I can’t remember which was which.

Trumpolini

8th December 2015:

If it wasn’t already obvious, the New-York-based reality television star has clarified that he will be campaigning for president on the platform of good old-fashioned fascism.

Imaginary

12 February 2016:

I wonder to myself, if this person is as powerful as he believes himself to be, then why does he have to prefix his twitter handle with the word ‘real’? Is it to differentiate himself from an imaginary Donald Trump? Who is actually a nice person? And not totally self-absorbed?

dump

24 February 2016:

It finally dawns on me: This is Biff from Back To The Future running for President of the United States! This man-child behaves like a cartoon high-school bully. Why doesn’t half of America seem to mind!?

Super Tuesday 2016

1st March 2016:

Super Tuesday is here, and the field is thinning out. Republicans are left choosing from a rotund vessel of chopped animal organs, a folding ironing board, and a pair of unwashed sports socks. Across the aisle, Democrats are forced to choose between an angry duck and a half-eaten sandwich. The two-party system works!

Down at 7/11

19th April 2016:

BBC News:

“It’s very close to my heart because I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down, and I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action,” Mr Trump said.

"Again"

10th June 2016:

One way to make ‘again’ make sense

Grate

18th July 2016:

Wannabe-despot seeks running mate to aid in campaign to Make America Grate Again

The Campaign Proper

I'm With...

2nd August 2016:

The election in one drawing

WrongWrong

8th October 2016:

After the Billy Bush tape is unearthed, the humanoid with expired toothpaste for hair is forced to make an admission.

Locker-room Talk

10th October 2016:

I guess it wasn’t worth apologising for after all, it was just ‘Locker-room Talk’. I guess if you look at it this way…

Frump

12th October 2016:

The Republican candidate attempts to set things straight in the wake of the Billy Bush tape:
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody”

Debate Notepad

20th October 2016:

As my American voyager and I watch the final debate of the campaign, I wonder to myself what exactly Hillary is marking down behind her lectern?

Huge Vacuum

28th October 2016:

Mr Reality-TV has been attributing the creation of America’s enemies to the ‘huge vacuum’ that Obama and Clinton left behind in the middle east. ‘I wish someone would come and collect it’, the locals think to themselves.

Thank goodness it’s all over tomorrow. Let’s hope we wake up in a peaceful world on Wednesday!

 
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