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

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!

It’s Made of Paper!

Here are another two recent record covers I’m pretty proud of, both following a paper theme:

NHS291-Packshot-2400px

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.

ddesk

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.

NHS292EP-Packshot-2400px

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.

hardie-back

It’s all made of paper!

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

He Is Lynx

I Am Lynx

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!

Moving

I like to dip my toes into the waters of animation, and in this YouTube-dominated era of the music business, the importance of the video-sharing site has given me new opportunities to mess around with the medium. I’ve created some small animated loops for a pair of albums this summer, for Hospital Records and its sister-label Med School.

Hospital’s most prolific artist Logistics is back with a new album called Polyphony. Matt comes from an incredible creative, artistic background and has frequently collaborated on or designed his own record covers. The cover for this album was no exception – it was something he created himself on his phone (!), and I found on his Instagram account. We all thought it was fab in the Hospital office, so it became the cover for Polyphony.

Inside Polyphony

I loved the kaleidoscopic style, so I reverse-engineered it in the process recreating a small, hypnotic animated loop. This proved useful not only for the YouTube videos (as embedded above) but also became the source for the rest of the artwork on the album.

Keeno’s debut Life Cycle was a bit of a puzzle for me. He is a brand-new artist that incited a lot of passion from the Hospital CEO Tony Colman – many thoughts were expressed about classical music, reference points were made that I wasn’t getting and dead-ended sketches were produced.

After a while I gave up on the reference points and just followed my nose – I figured as the album was called Life Cycle, I should try and represent a life cycle visually. I remembered back to my past experimentation with phonotropes – using a turntable and a camera’s shutter speed to create animation. After all the sums and technical experimentation, I got the design working. The little guy gets eaten by the big guy all the way along the cycle, which made the nice radial image used on the cover.

Keeno Picture Disc

The next most difficult part of the project was convincing Med School to release the album on limited-edition picture disc, to make it all make sense. It’s taken me such a long time to write this that they’ve all sold out already, and it’s had to be re-pressed on regular black vinyl! If you were speedy and got a copy, put it on a turntable under a really bright light, and if you look at it through your phone’s camera, you should see the design come to life like it does in the YouTube video!

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”

The Trickartt DJ Bio Generator is back!

Hospital Advent 2013Part of my sprint toward the end of the year involved getting the Hospital Advent calendar ready again. I drew a nice medical-seasonal Santa behind an X-ray screen for the artwork this year, which was a good starting point.

We at The Purple Gates like to believe the record label is more than just music, so across the 24 days of Advent, we give away a bit of everything. This includes nonsense from me, so when we were scheduling the calendar, the 22nd was allotted to Ricky Trickartt’s Wonderful World of Colour.

We started scraping the barrel for one of my inter web experiments. As proud as I am of WashMa.ch, the Hospital Officers decided it was too esoteric to share. Instead, they suggested I give my DJ Bio Generator from 2009 a little revamp.

Just in time for the 22nd, I did exactly that; it now has additional ludicrous options and more current references so you can make a sillier Drum + Bass DJ Biography quicker than ever. Check it out here, make your own bio in a snap, and if you’re really a DJ, paste it into your Soundcloud profile (or wherever you like to share your mixtapes). If nothing else, it sure beats taking the task of biography-writing seriously and doing it yourself!

Press ‘1’ for Hair Emergencies

Press '1' for Hair Emergencies

Hey Internet! Here’s something cool I did recently – one of a few new T-shirt designs for Hospital. Maybe you know that most graphic output at Hospital is my work anyway, but this design feels a lot more Ricky Trickartt than most things I do for them, which is why (like George Forman) I put my name on it!

There are robots on it. Lots of robots. And a lot of other electronics, both modern and obsolete too. And best of all, they’re all unique! Tall robots, short robots, robots on wheels, vacuum cleaners, telescopic robots, dancing robots, and it wouldn’t be right without a washing machine or two as well.

doppel

So what’s with the hair emergency? The phone menu style comes from the robots, the emergency is because it’s Hospital, and the hair problems are all me.

original

Confused yet? Here’s what you need to do: Go to the Hospital Shop and buy a Robots T-shirt, in blue or white, wear it and love it. Alright!

Hospital Internet Evolution

surgeradio

The Hospital Records website and I have been on a long journey since I began working with the label. I’ve been planning on writing this piece about it for what must be several years now, but the thing with working on the internet is there’s never a finished point. You can’t carry on tinkering with a product once it’s been printed, but you can when you publish something on the internet! We launched a major redesign this winter, so now it’s had a few weeks to settle in, it finally seems like a good time to look back at how it evolved.

Back in 2005, before I got my foot in the door, their sites looked like this:

2005 2005-shop

They had their own website, which could only be updated by one member of staff, and their webshop was run by a third party. Oh how I remember that store – I used to buy white labels from it as soon as they were available, only to regret being impatient and not waiting a few weeks for the full artwork. Sometimes I would buy both anyway – Sainsbury’s must have paid me well if I afford so much Vinyl back then! Continue reading “Hospital Internet Evolution”

 
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