I’ve never really thought of Hospital as the establishment, but having been a going concern for a quarter of a decade now, it suddenly seems pretty well-settled in the musical landscape. For one of the many facets of this anniversary, Hospital organised a virtual art exhibition with our old friends at Art Vinyl, makers of nifty ‘Play and Display’ record cover frames.
The virtual nature obviously makes it pandemic-friendly (I still haven’t got my second vaccine yet!), so after a couple of false starts and venue changes, Chris at Hospital and the Art Vinyl guys got set up in Defected Records’ basement event space.
Chris and I had to pick fifty covers, which seems like a lot, but was pretty difficult considering Hospital’s catalogue is closer to 450 now, and that doesn’t even include the not-quite-100 on Med School as well. We filtered it down to albums that came out on vinyl only, and began whittling down to our favourites from there.
There’s more than just the record covers in the exhibition though – there are a selection of some of the original pieces of art I made for the covers dotted around, as well as many other bonus features. And! Chris and I also wrote a little commentary about some of our particular favourites in the exhibition.
I’ve been designing covers for Hospital for about fifteen years now, and I’m not sure if I’m proud or terrified when looking at this exhibition!
On the subject of how I make record covers for Hospital…
I also recently revisited the footage of making a pair of EPs for Logistics, from just before the pandemic-era. I’ve edited them into a nice new ‘How did this happen?’ video, which talks through the inspiration, and how I made the artwork. Check it out below!
And check out the 25 Years of Hospital Art exhibition!
Behold my latest record cover! Long-time collaborator Logistics has a habit of kindling inspiration in me, usually by bringing his music with some kind of twentieth-century art or design reference point that is totally in my wheelhouse.
For this EP, Logistics gave me some images of library music sleeves, so I took these reference points and set about creating a unique piece of artwork that (hopefully) feels like it could be part of the same niche. I came up with a scheme to do a spin painting for the artwork. The technique is wildly unpredictable, and (as is the way in the topsy-turvy world of independent music) the constraints didn’t afford the luxury of creating an entire spin-painting turntable, but I managed to cobble together a setup using my power drill, some scraps of wood, and my communal back-garden on a sunny day.
The trial-and-error began. I discovered that acrylic paint was too thick and ink was too thin, but paint from a spray-can was just about the right consistency to drift with the centrifugal forces, but still stay opaque. A few attempts later I was starting to get results I was happy with.
A little colour-shifting later, the results pleased the label and Logistics himself, so it was on to the packaging details. The cover design was divided into thirds, so I found a slightly abstract way to divide the centre labels into thirds too.
Because this is a cover for Hospital’s most-prolific musician and the reference point for the artwork was library music, I also went to the effort of presenting the inner sleeve as a library of Logistics’ music in itself. I combed through the entire back catalogue, fought it into a sensible (again thirds-based) layout, and after a bit of to-and-fro over what should and shouldn’t be included where, we have another satisfying detail for the project!
The record is available on Hospital Records now.
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.
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.
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!
Matt Logistics’ fourth studio album ‘Fear Not’ is out this week, and once again, I have had the pleasure of doing the artwork for the project!
I love working on Logistics albums as I so often get the opportunity to go the extra mile with my artwork – starting from his debut in 2006 where I soldered together 750 lights into the album cover to 2009’s Crash, Bang, Wallop, which I hand-painted a canvas for, Fear Not has become a multimedia art project involving sleeves, stickers, animations, videos, hand-painted T-shirts and even Rubik’s Cubes. Continue reading “Fearing Not”
Music-making man-machine Logistics’ third album (well, fourth if you count a digital-only album) Crash Bang Wallop! is hitting stores, shelves and record players worldwide next month, so as this blog is now somewhat alive again, here is a little bit about the process of creating this album’s arwork.
This project started in typically late-notice fashion (ah, my topsy-turvy relationship with underground music), as while the project was mentioned several weeks prior, there wasn’t a title until mid-July. This meant a fast schedule, and the project came a long way in a short time.
Continue reading “Crash Bang Wallop – Process”
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