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!
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.
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!
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This 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!
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.
“This isn’t what I expected when I said I was looking for a more fulfilling job”
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!?
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!
19th April 2016:
“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.
10th June 2016:
One way to make ‘again’ make sense
18th July 2016:
Wannabe-despot seeks running mate to aid in campaign to Make America Grate Again
The Campaign Proper
2nd August 2016:
The election in one drawing
8th October 2016:
After the Billy Bush tape is unearthed, the humanoid with expired toothpaste for hair is forced to make an admission.
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…
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”
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?
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!
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!
This weekend’s project was an upgrade of sorts for Speakerbot, the little robot that lives beside my turntables.
He originally came to be because my speakers sat on different shelves that weren’t the same height in an old apartment. Of course the way to remedy that was to make a robot to bring one speaker up to the right height. Here was my original illustration of the idea:
A couple of days later, he emerged from the cardboard
Then he had a well-received lick of paint
About five years later, the cardboard was starting to get a little soft and wobbly, so this weekend I rebuilt him out of MDF. Who knew cardboard could be so human-like?
An upgrade was done to his electricals, including some new switches on the light-matrix and a new meter that can just-about be hooked up to the music to display its current.
He stands a lot firmer now, and will hopefully last longer than the cardboard incarnation did!
Maybe I’m becoming a closeted sports fan?
Every summer for the past several years I’ve been wondering why all the people around me who support sports teams throughout the year go off to music festivals in the summer, while I prefer to stay at home listening to Wimbledon.
Yet I continue listen to Wimbledon while I work. Then the notion of summer sports ambience expands to the Tour De France, and as part of trying to figure out how on earth this sport works, I’m left wondering what the hell mining explosives suppliers and unopened hotels are doing sponsoring professional sports teams.
The next thing I know, it’s a Summer Olympics year and I’m watching that too.
The Olympics is a kind of madness though
Two weeks where hundreds of people from all over the planet gather to show off how they’re really really good at doing some really obscure (usually) physical thing, and the BBC is dedicating dozens of channels to presenting it all live for the nation’s bafflement!
I find myself watching Synchronised Diving, wondering why they made an insanely complicated way of jumping into a body of water even more complicated by expecting two people do it in sync. I’m not even going to try to keep a straight face when ‘Steele Johnson’ is on the screen in his tiny Speedos.
Next my attention is diverted to Taekwondo, where two people are trying desperately to kick each other in the head, live on prime-time television. After that, I’m watching a field of grown adults on undersized bikes race around a concrete obstacle course and hoping they don’t break their necks.
There’s so much going on it demands the attention of my post-it pad!
The intrigue begins with the cycling road race. A bit like a miniature Tour De France, humans race in the space in a couple of hours over a distance I couldn’t cycle in a week. The race is won by a Belgian chap whose name sounds an awful lot like Greg Van Lavamat. He probably would benefit from having a motor inside of him as well.
Look at the swimmers, propelling themselves 100 metres in the time it takes me to paddle 25! They must live in the water, a bit like the ducks on the canal.
I can’t say I’ve ever watched fencing before this Olympics, but I have to wonder if it’s the fencers that have taken a lot of influence from Daft Punk in recent years, or if Daft Punk were influenced by fencing?
Never mind that, it’s stopped raining so the tennis is back on. Oh look, it’s Rafael Nadal, sweating profusely, going through his pre-serving routine. Have another banana, Rafa!
There are people who aren’t on television who take table tennis very seriously. To call it ping-pong would be offensive. I can see why- this sport is madness. Their postures remind me of dinosaurs, but they move like fireworks. I can’t even!
Oh yeah, basketball, that’s a sport that is totally competitive outside of the United States. Why is the coach drawing his tactical plans on an etch-a-sketch?! Is chalk too old-fashioned? Is an iPad too modern?
What would the Olympics be without a little bit of the track-and-field? I find myself wondering – am I the only person who thinks this is completely insane? I mean, pole vaulting, how do you even get into that? Is that your only job as a human? Or do you run online marketing pyramid schemes between vaults or something?
Strange as all that is, it only barely scratches the surface. I don’t even know what to write about the dancing horses event or the synchronised swimming duets, except that a fortnight later I still can’t work out which is more bizarre. I’m exhausted from just having watched!
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!