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.

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!

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

Still Not There Yet

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!

Mystery Machine

Krakota's Strange System

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.

Krakota Black Box

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.

krakota-gatefold

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.

Check the Hospital Shop if you need a copy in your life!

Lost Property

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!

Lost Dubs on Microfunk

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!

Lost Dubs on Microfunk

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.

Go Fish!

Here’s the last project to close out the work-year: Hospital playing cards!

cardddd

Hospital and I had been talking about doing a deck of playing cards for a long time and I finally found a few free days to crack on with it in November, just in time to get them out for the holidays. The idea to do the King, Queen and Jack as Surgeon, Nurse and Physician came to me when we first talked about doing playing cards, so I started by drawing them up, and followed them with some more conventional number designs.

When we got the specs from the printer, I discovered there was space not just for two jokers but two extra cards too. I drew a Joker based loosely on Tony the CEO, then after a bit of scratching around I decided a bonus pair of turntables would be better than the rules of Bridge.

somecards

The last detail was the box, and I decided if there was ever a playing card package to pay homage to, it would be the magician’s favourite Bicycle.

They’ve turned out really cute – it’s nice to get ideas out of my head looking like I imagined them!

Where We Going?

swi-tl

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.

art-its

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.

five

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.

mapp

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.

tdp

Kinda Literal

crinkled

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.

final-YABAPOM

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

Wormhole

Perspective

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!

Perspective CD

 
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