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!
Watching the Olympic cycling road race last week, I was struck by how unadulterated the cyclists’ uniforms were. They had essentially no sponsors at all, which is in stark contrast to the teams in which the cyclists ride.
One of the strange/charming things about professional cycling teams are that they are named for their sponsors. This would be a bit like Manchester United being called ‘Team Chevrolet’, or the England cricket team being called ‘Waitrose Pro Cricketeers’. Except pro cycling is such a fringe sport, oftentimes these teams are sponsored by companies who probably aren’t widely heard of in their native countries, let alone on the world stage.
The whole thing got me wondering – what if UCI WorldTeams were simplified to what the sponsors’ companies actually do?
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.
Hello Internet! I bookended this month with travelling. As we start this roundup, I was in Hamburg, being astounded by the amount of riot police in town, and struggling to practice my German. Toward the end of the month I found myself in Ibiza, trying to stay as far from the party towns as possible. Instead I hired a Vespa and drove up a mountain, which was a lot like being at home in Britain, except with nice weather!
My favourite post-it from the month was, as usual, one of the least understood. Never Lonely Tomorrow was a picture about the ever-increasing amount of gadgets in the world that you can talk to. The Amazon Echo and its success in the States particularly fascinates me, as it leans into Amazon’s core business of selling you… toilet paper? I’m sure there will be only more and more of these devices to talk to as the future presses on.
The other oblique fascination of the month wa They Say Love Is Blind, a more easily digested post-it note about how my rockets and my squid drawings look so similar.
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.
This April I have been trying not to glue my own lips together, having strange dreams about sandal-shaped buses and sunbathing goths, spending far too much money on MP3s (Streaming services? What are they?), and a little bit of travelling here and there too.
My favourite square came quite early this April, in the form of the advice slip. I’ve never understood why ATM receipts are labelled as advice slips. It’d make much more sense if they really dispensed advice, as I pondered in my drawing.
I was sad the world lost Prince too – another hero of imagination has gone. As I noted on Twitter, I’m still in denial about Bowie, so having His Purple Majesty go too is an extra sad time. Shame I couldn’t come up with a better post-it note to commemorate him.
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!
Whoosh! There goes the month of March in the year of 2016 into the archives of space-time. I spent a lot of time (moreso than usual) by myself this month, but that didn’t stop me coming up with some really silly pun post-it notes.
This month’s greatest success was iPad Thai, which for an idea I’ve had clinging onto a list for ages, was timed very well to meet the launch of a new iPad from Apple. My favourite drawing this month was probably the Fax Machine, because it’s just my kind of nonsense, but I think it was too much nonsense for the general public.
This month, beside getting terrified by the unfoldings of America’s presidential primaries, I’ve done a handful of good drawings on post-it notes!
My faviourites came through earlier in the month – the Classic is so classic I find myself wondering why I had never thought of it before, there was untitled but very satisfactory drawing of Lilly and I cycling up a local hill, and Al the amazing waterproof dog was one of my finer moments too, because it actually looks like a dog.
It’s not really right that I find myself surprised when my drawings actually look like they’re supposed to!