Hello Internet! I thought I should show you some highlights from the record covers I’ve been designing over the past couple of months.
2016 started a lot like 2015 at Hospital Records, just with a lot more rainbows. It’s a trusted design, now with rainbows on everything (just how I like it!) – CDs, picture discs, posters, T-shirts, stickers, slipmats, you name it.
Over at Med School the first album of the year was ‘Futurist’ by Keeno. Young Keeno picked the title just because he liked the word, so I came up with this futurism-inspired illustration of a man composing at a grand piano. Of course, with a title like Futurist, I had to use the typeface Futura for the artwork!
Med School hit the decade landmark in 2016, which is a terrifies me if I think about it too much because I came up with the original blood-stained identity for the label back in 2006. The Ten Years extravaganza took a few twists and turns, but ended up here, in what I’m affectionately referring to ‘Tennis Years of Med School’.
Also included here are a couple of earlier ideas for this artwork – one looking back at some of the artwork from the past decade (which made no sense as this album is all new material!), and one papercut version of the final artwork that got downvoted by the label.
Lastly for now is Maduk’s debut album, Never Give Up. Maduk had 12 tracks on the album and a concept that each track corresponded to a position on a clock-face of colours, which gave a nice rotational direction to the artwork. Creating the artwork involved working backwards, trying to minimise what I started with his single last year. I’m really pleased with this one, but as is no secret, I’m always pleased by bright colours!
The other big album project I’ve been working on lately is London Elektricity’s ‘Are We There Yet?’. Tony already had the image he wanted for his album cover from a photo shoot while touring in Japan, but he wanted to go all-out for the special edition of the album, and it was left to me to figure out how.
Because of the album’s travel-related title, we agreed to do a series of twelve postcards (one for each track on the LP) and a fold-out map too. First I was given a list of track titles, then I got to listen to the album not long after. Tony’s music always sounds like a slightly-retro adventure to me, and I know he’s really into science fiction, so I decided to treat each track as an intergalactic destination, and made each postcard to be a 1960s-inspired travel poster.
Once I finished all the postcards I turned my attention to the fold-out map. I couldn’t really make a conventional map as the elements from the postcards transcended planets, oceans and objects, so I came up with this abstract illustration for the job.
The style of this work is a little bit outside of my usual repertoire, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out! The map artwork is included in all formats, but to get the postcards, you had to get one of the super-limited box sets.
The first of two big albums I’ve been working on this year is out today – Etherwood’s second album, Blue Leaves. There was a lot of artwork involved in it, so here’s a drop of some imagery, notes, and a few exclusive bits that didn’t make the cut.
work on the project started way back in January with the single ‘You’ll Always Be A Part Of Me’. Continue reading “Kinda Literal”
This week’s new release I had a hand in (literally!) is ‘Perspective’ by Anile on Med School. After MD Chris came up with the record cover in a record cover concept, we sent Hospital’s ‘resident doodler’ Snapclicker out with his camera to find us something to work for the title, and this shot from the Barbican Centre jumped out as being perfect for the job. I gave it a retro jazzy feel front and back, and with everyone happy, it went off to print.
When the final copies arrived at The Purple Gates, I couldn’t resist going back to Barbican myself to keep the image going, in kind of a wormhole style. It worked a bit better with the CD, I think. If I was to go any further though, I’d need a much wider lens!
The latest release I’ve had the pleasure of working on is Lynx’s new album, and his first on Hospital Records, simply titled ‘I Am Lynx’.
We haven’t often done the full-on collage thing at Hospital, at least since 2006’s Computer Love EP, but we all thought it’d go well with Lynx’s idiosyncratic musical style. Steve was up for it too, so he sent through a folder of some classic childhood/family photos and a list of objects and memories from growing up in 80s/90s Britain for me to get to work with.
I pulled the collage all together in a way that radiated around Chelone Wolf‘s portrait of Lynx, to show all of these things making him who he is today, along with a few sillier lynx moments.
I’m really pleased with the cover, it’s mega colourful, totally ridiculous and very Monty Python (we even included Bronzino’s Cupid foot), but it’s also probably the most personal artist’s album cover I’ve ever designed.
Digital and CD are out on Monday, with the vinyl following soonafter (thanks, Record Store Day). Go and cop it!
It occurred to me while I was in the shower this morning that the ten-year anniversary of my first album cover happened while I was in Africa. John B’s in:transit album hit stores in June 2004, just as I was cocking up my A-Level exams at school. John was kind enough to take a chance on a student doing his record cover for him, but he didn’t realise just how young a student I was at the time!
Here I am as a very proud eighteen-year-old, showing my dad my work on the shelves of our local HMV:
A decade later, I continue to love designing record covers, and I still work with John B on his, but my ridiculous hair appears to have outlived the record store as I knew it!
Considering that it’s probably the biggest project I’ve had the pleasure of working on to date, I’ve come to realise I haven’t said much about the work I’ve been doing for Netsky over the past twelve months!
2012 has really shaped up to be our Belgian friend’s year- I remember being astonished at how quickly he ascended over the course of his debut album in 2010, but that was nothing in comparison to his follow-up! The sheer expanse of this project has really brought it together – it’s not just record covers; the artwork goes much further! Continue reading “Year of the Boris”
Aside from having to say goodbye to my old Vespa, one of the projects I worked on this Autumn was that of Enei’s debut album, Machines, on Critical Music. When I was given the heads-up, the first thing that struck me about the project was just what a great title Machines is!
I immediately thought ‘I like machines!’ and began dreaming up all the ridiculous things I could draw for the artwork: Washing machines, sewing machines, vending machines, washing machines, fax machines, robots, washing machines, salami-slicing machines and so on. Did I mention I wanted to put a load of washing machines on his album cover?
The daydreams didn’t last long, and from the giddy highs of domestic machines, I fell to the low of realising that all of my typical inclinations would be way too kitsch for the album, and my usual tact of just-getting-on-with-it wasn’t getting me very far either. Continue reading “Inside the Machine”
Matt Logistics’ fourth studio album ‘Fear Not’ is out this week, and once again, I have had the pleasure of doing the artwork for the project!
I love working on Logistics albums as I so often get the opportunity to go the extra mile with my artwork – starting from his debut in 2006 where I soldered together 750 lights into the album cover to 2009’s Crash, Bang, Wallop, which I hand-painted a canvas for, Fear Not has become a multimedia art project involving sleeves, stickers, animations, videos, hand-painted T-shirts and even Rubik’s Cubes. Continue reading “Fearing Not”
This winter I worked concurrently on two album projects: John B’s Light Speed and High Contrast’s The Agony & The Ecstasy. Both projects are for different artists and evolved in different ways, but since the art was completed and wheels were set in motion, I’ve been noticing increasing unintended parallels between the two projects and their artwork.
Both album covers were driven by the artists themselves and both had different motivations- High Contrast rather controversially wanted the baroque Caravaggio classic The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew to represent The Agony & The Ecstasy, while John B had some press photos done last year complete with full make-up and styling, one of which he wanted to use for his album cover.
Both albums use transitional serif typefaces – I tend not to use serifs very often in my line of work, so two at once was a rarity! HC pushed for Perpetua on his – I have to admit this wouldn’t have been my first choice (the upper-case U having a tail bugs me) – I was angling for either Garamond (historically appropriate) or Bodoni (classical Italian), but Perpetua works in the entirety of the project. John left it up to me so I took the extravagant haute-fashion stylings of his photos and decided Baskerville fit that aesthetic and the more grown-up sound of this album quite well.
As well as both being driven by the artists’ own motivations for the cover image and both using transitional serif typefaces for different reasons, the most curious parallel that struck me was in this interview John B did with This Is Drum & Bass:
TiD&B: If you could compare your sound, and your new album to perhaps a work of art, what would it be?
John B: No idea… Maybe one of those crazy Renaissance scenes where there’s loads of stuff going on; someone dying from a dagger wound, a bunch of sexy Renaissance ladies with their boobies showing, some angels, and a lion or two.
I’m reasonably sure John hadn’t seen HC’s album cover at the time he did this interview, but it struck me as curious that he pretty much described it (minus the boobies and lions, of course) to analogise his own sound!
Lastly, both albums were a long time coming! It has been six years since Electrostep and five since Tough Guys Don’t Dance, both of which facts are a slightly alarming reminder of how long I have been doing my job now!
Light Speed is out now on Beta Recordings, and The Agony & The Ecstasy is out tomorrow on Hospital Records.