Catching up a little on this one: Last autumn I had a fun extra-project for an album I worked on. Med School came to me with Whiney’s second album, and the title for it was ‘Waystone’. I really liked the title, and it made me think of the Giant’s Causeway, which was the main inspiration for the artwork. To make it a bit more interesting, I had an idea of using rotational symmetry to ‘break’ the faux-3D graphics, making it feel like it bent around the other way.
The idea was a sell, but as this is Drum and Bass, Whiney wanted my original version to be grimier. I obliged, and although it wouldn’t have been my choice, it ended up opening up an interesting opportunity further down the album’s development run. The label wanted some extra video content and asked me if there was some way I could do a live painting of the artwork – I thought a stencil would suit the more roughed-up design very well.
Conveniently, the label had recently moved into a new office featuring some dead space waiting to be converted into a new studio. The back wall of this space was offered to me to fill with spray fumes, and I was glad I brought a new respirator with me (Don’t spray-paint indoors without one, kids)! I spent a dark winter afternoon down south of the river laying down a bit of colour:
It made for a good backdrop for a live-streamed DJ set before it was entombed behind the new Hospital Records studio this winter. And it gave me a good excuse to do a bit of artwork on a different scale to what I usually do!
A new record cover I created is released today! It’s the debut single for a new signing to Med School Music – a chap called Lakeway. Aside from the title, I was kind of given carte blanche with the direction for this project, so I ended up creating some artwork intended to feel ‘connected’ like nerves, which I then physically froze.
I made it by hammering some carefully-placed nails into a surface I painted, then winding cotton thread between the nails (it’s all one continuous piece again!) to form the letters. I was happy with the design at that point, but it needed to represent the frozen part of the title too, so (obviously?) I put the whole thing in my kitchen’s freezer. I sprayed it with water at intervals until the ice had built up enough around the cotton threads for the lettering to solidify satisfactorially.
It hung out with the frozen peas for a couple of days while we got final approval, then for a little something extra, I timelapsed the ice melting away from it again and reversed the result, so it was becoming frozen again. Harry at Hospital Records then swept in and edited the timelapse into some nice motion graphics to accompany the track uploads to YouTube.
It’s nice to have a bit of ice-cold artwork for this long hot summer we’ve been having in Britain!
I’ve been feeling good about a lot of the record covers to come out of my brain-hands lately, but the cover for New Blood 018 deserves a spot of text to go with it – perfect for the blog.
This artwork was inspired by a visit to my brother, who managed to break his leg while taking his kids to the park, and was in real-hospital as a result of the accident. One of his ward-mades was getting a transfusion while I was visiting, and I found the vividness of the blood running from the bag and through its tubing partly fascinating and partly humbling as it squiggled all over this poor chap’s bed.
The image stayed with me, so I took the idea of the constant line to the typography for this artwork, and designed a suite of artwork around the concept. My original version was just as bold as the blood I saw in the hospital that day, but the creators of an album series called ‘New Blood’ insisted that it was too bloody, so I changed the palette entirely to some classic clinical teal shades.
As well as the typography that made the cover itself, I also sweated the details with the entire tracklisting, with every artist and title drawn in the same single-line style. I was really pleased with how it looks, but we all agreed it wasn’t the most legible, so we compromised and I created a design that had transcriptions too.
I continued the single-line concept through all aspects of the design, including all of the label copy, which I snaked on single weaving lines through the artwork on all formats. With most of my indulgences approved in the end, the album went off to press, and is out on Med School Music this week.
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!
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!
The latest cover art project to come out of Rickmansland is Frederic Robinson’s Flea Waltz. It’s his second album, but first on Med School and first I got to create artwork for, and it’s a good one!
The brief started with Joan Miró, but I brought in a little bit of a Matisse to it too with the cut-out vibes, then I made it all out of wood. It turned out really well, and compliments the music too (if I do say so myself). Thanks to all involved for indulging me, and to Frederic for making a great album to inspire it!
One day in a meeting at The Purple Gates, Tony said ‘I’ve had a great remix done from Are we There Yet, maybe we should do a whole album of remixes’. A few weeks later, I was briefed on ‘Are We There Yet: The Med School Scans’.
Tony’s idea for the artwork was Soviet X-ray bootlegs, but this wasn’t something we could produce with any kind of authenticity, even on a small scale, without looking like just another X-ray record cover.
Instead I came up with an idea for coloured vinyl with a purpose (rather than coloured vinyl for novelty), and made a cover design that you have to scan with the record to be able to read.
The whole project looked great once printed – fluorescent Pantones worked perfectly with the colour-blocking idea and look super-tasty in person!
More newness! Here is the artwork I created for Krakota’s debut album. He called the album ‘Strange System’, which is totally up my alley when it comes to record titles.
The title made me think of black boxes (as in science/engineering, not aerospace), which are systems that you can give input to and get output from without having any idea of what happens inside the system. I had some crazy idea to create some artwork completely obscured by a black box, but that was too, well, obscure. Everyone on the project seemed to like what I was drawing to go into the box though, so we ended up with that as the cover itself.
Everything is connected in this artwork! Clearly some of the objects are straight out of the mechanical/system corners of my noggin, but a lot of it comes from Krakota – his love of vinyl, celebratory beers and coffee to fuel the writing process, audio bits and pieces, and objects taken from some of his track titles. On the cover is a xylophone (from Xylo), a ghost, some samphire, an ice machine (for Ice Hands), some bones (for Lazy Bones), and the odd elastic bands. There are more track titles in the gatefold artwork too.
I kept my illustrations on this artwork as geometric as possible to make it feel very mechanical, so to contrast that and bring it back into the world of humans, we had all the artwork printed on a nice and heavy unbleached card stock. It roughs it up just the right amount and looks pretty fresh in physical too.
I received a package from Russia this week, which isn’t something that happens very often in Ricky Trickartt HQ. Inside were finished copies of some artwork I had created for St. Petersburg’s Microfunk – more cardboard cassettes, but in a totally different vein to last time!
The album is a collection of tracks from various members and friends of the Microfunk collective that were lost or unreleased over the years. The concept was about finding new life in something that had been left behind. I was commissioned by Bop to illustrate this concept with the bouquet from the bowl, and got to have plenty of fun filing the inside with pipes too!
I love print so much. The art looks great on the heavy brown paper stock and white ink – it almost looks like I drew each copy myself with some super-fine white Posca markers.
Thanks to Bop and everyone at Microfunk for the project. You can get a copy on their Bandcamp page.
Here are another two recent record covers I’m pretty proud of, both following a paper theme:
The Hospital Mixtape series has been a bit of a puzzle since it started a couple of years back because despite it being called ‘mixtape’, there’s a certain discomfort with cassettes behind The Purple Gates. That means it’s down to me to find a way to think alternatively about tapes.
This year the mixtape was put together by S.P.Y, so I took the raw and minimal production finishes from his last album Back To Basics, and set about mixing them up. I got the knives out and ended up crafting a 1:1 scale cassette tape out of reverse cereal box and ribbon. I even made a cardboard case for it too, for the ongoing messy desk imagery used in the series.
A bit of careful photography and a lot of retouching later, it all came together.
Hugh Hardie is a new Hospital signing. For his debut EP, titled ‘City Soul’, I drew a very rudimentary skyline and chopped it up into something a lot more abstract. I had recently bought myself a slightly mad paper circle cutter, and this proved the perfect job to take it for a spin.
The textures came courtesy of logarithmic graph paper from my grandpa, excess ink from Etherwood’s Blue Leaves album project, and a copy of The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (which I thought was appropriately city), ran through my increasingly temperamental photocopier.
The whole cover then got a bit of explosion treatment on the back cover.