More Pandas Than China

Lilly and I went on a summer holiday to Sardinia this year, and while we were there, we were astonished by the amount of Pandas everywhere. Of course, I’m not talking about the Chinese bears, but the Fiat manufactured in the 1980s and 90s.

It was almost as if Sardinia is where Italy sent its Pandas not to die but to just keep on living.

We were both charmed by these boxy little powerhouses, so it was a good cue to make Lilly a new piece of artwork for her birthday. I began researching the materials that were used to sell the car during its original run, but there was no escaping this being a car of the eighties:

As magnificent as those are, I was looking for something that spoke a bit more to how thirty years later, the cars were still so happy rattling through the dusty landscapes of the Mediterranean. The native Italian materials weren’t any more inspiring with their woefully stretched typography, but France proved to have some more playful typographic ideas for selling these little Fiats:

The only trouble is I had no idea what the French typography said, and online translation wasn’t being much help to me either. My first few attempts of running the full slogan ‘Les Voitures à Malices’ through the internet tried to tell me it meant ‘The Cars With Malice’ or ‘The Malicious Cars’, and I couldn’t imagine even the French would try and sell a car on the idea that it would harm you.

Instead I decided it must’ve been idiomatic, so I asked a French friend to help me (her response: ‘I’m so French it’s beyond belief’), who explained that it meant ‘cheeky, facetious, witty all at once’, and was like boite à malices, ‘a box with lots of stuff that would be fun for kids’; a box of tricks. That sounded perfect to me, so I had to get back into the other hard part, illustrating the car in a way that captured its humble boxiness.

My first couple of attempts looked too boyish, and like something from a video game. Definitely not the right flavour. Instead, a basic profile shot proved to be the winner, and when combined with a bit of the mountainous terrain of Sardinia and a little more of the French marketing materials, everything came together just right.

Of course, the most important thing in all of this is that Lilly loved the artwork, so we immediately put it up on the wall!

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!

The Christmas Story

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With Christmas well and truly over, hopefully everybody has received all the Santa Cruiser cards destined for them by now! Here’s the story (and a few pictures behind the design.

I really wanted to do this illustration I came up with last christmas I called ‘The Nutkraken’ for our cards this year, but even after drawing it all up properly, the idea was nixed by Lilly.

nutkraken

Back at the drawing board post-it pad, I set about coming up with some other ideas, including this one I called ‘Santa and his Elvis’. This was nixed too:

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Eventually we came back to trying to reflect what happened in the past year, and decided that getting bicycles was probably the biggest thing. I put Santa on various bicycles, including some more conventional bikes like our own, and fancy racing bikes like my cat stickers, but his rotund nature meant he was best suited to a very upright cruiser bike. Here’s the final sketch, before tidying up:

cruisesketch

Everything was manufactured and ready to print:

A photo posted by Ricky Trickartt (@trickartt) on

The pressing wasn’t without problems, but it came out pretty good in the end:

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…And for our digital-native friends I did a special gif version to email them!

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Kinda Literal

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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.

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work on the project started way back in January with the single ‘You’ll Always Be A Part Of Me’. Continue reading “Kinda Literal”

Triple-feature

Back when she lived in the States, Lilly used to have posters from her favourite movies on the wall. For her birthday this year, I decided to bring some of her world back to our apartment here in Rickmansland, but being the artist I am, I couldn’t help but redesign them for her too.

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catThe To Catch A Thief poster was the biggest gamble. Lilly is very fond of Grace Kelly and not-so-fond of cats, so obviously (?) this is a poster with a great big picture of a cat and no pictures of Princess Grace. I know my audience. The design is based on the first edition cover of the original novel, and it was such a great idea I couldn’t resist repurposing it. Besides, it’s a whole lot easier to draw a silly cat than it is to draw a decent picture of Grace Kelly! Lilly’s reaction was that we should get a pet cat, simply so we can name him John Robie. Coming from a cat-agnostic, I’m taking that as high praise!

windowRear Window‘s poster took the longest to come together. My biggest problem with the original poster was the inappropriate use of Showcard Gothic. Not only was it a massive anachronism, given that the font was designed almost 40 years after the movie came out, but it was pixelated to high hell on the printed poster too. Once that was fixed, it took a few runs at getting the illustration to do justice to the fantastic set the whole movie is based around.

sciaThe poster for Charade came together easiest, but that’s because the source material was so great. I loved all the typography in Italian on her original poster, so that had to stay, and the bright yellow colour scheme was great fun too. All that was needed to tie it together were some of the graphics from Maurice Binder’s wonderful animated title sequence.

Movie posters are a little out of my wheelhouse, but I’m really pleased with the results. They took a bit longer than usual to work on, but that was mostly because I was trying to keep them a surprise. More importantly than what I think about them though, Lilly likes them too – she couldn’t wait to get them up on the walls!

Wobble Wobble Womp Womp

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Continuing with the theme of designing record covers for the YouTube generation, the artwork I created for this year’s New Blood compilation on Med School has been going down famously!

For this album, I created twenty bespoke videos based on my original cover art idea – using a subwoofer to vibrate a pool of blood-coloured oobleck – one for each track. You can see the whole playlist of them all here:

It’s surprising how different the results were based on the different tunes – some of the basslines created very uniformed ripples, whereas some made the mixture go absolutely nuts! Continue reading “Wobble Wobble Womp Womp”

Behind Glass

Hospital: We Are 18

Here’s an album cover that started in an unusual place: A shop window in Camden.

After Hospital had a successful six weeks doing a pop-up shop at Shoreditch’s Boxpark in the summer, they organised another pop-up in November – on Camden High Street, and for one week only. Holidaying meant I missed the opportunity to flex my creativity at the Boxpark shop, so when I heard about the next one, I told Hospital I wanted to go there and put a big H in the window. They agreed, but didn’t really seem to understand why I was so excited by the prospect. Continue reading “Behind Glass”

Year of the Boris

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”

Inside the Machine

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”

Speed & Ecstasy

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.

 
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