It’s been a frantic few weeks making posters, merchandise, tour books, various other printed matter (and even a small contribution to making the screen-video with the good folks at the RCA) but the Peter Gabriel & Sting North America Tour is now off and rolling…
Should be quite a few weeks for jazz-fans at the Blue Note, NYC come October/November when Chick Corea celebrates his 75th birthday with a number of shows there – what a line-up. I’ve worked with Chick for some time now, and was very pleased to be asked to do the poster for the event (above). Happy Birthday Mr C.
End of December 2015 I was asked to design the poster/tour id for a forthcoming number of shows from Peter Gabriel and Sting; this would see the two of them on stage singing apart, together and each others songs – all done with a healthy dose of playful competition, hence the shows title ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.
First day back 2016 and I’m sat between the pair of them showing some ideas, some of which you can see above (along with the eventual choice). So they were in the poster without being on the poster, both Peter and Sting had their hands photographed in all the various combatative combinations the ‘R,P,S’ throws up. Peter wanted something playful, Sting wanted something Bold, and after a number of iterations a conclusion was reached that satisfied all. Bold Neue Haas Grotesk typeface and red half-toned pictures, simply does it.
Very pleased to have had two posters of mine (Much Ado About Nothing & A Midsummer Nights Dream) published in the book ‘Presenting Shakespeare: 1,100 Posters from Around the World, which is co-authored by Steven Heller and New York-based design studio Mirko Ilic. The book is published by Princeton Architectural Press, and contains around 1,100 posters from 56 countries around the world. It is going to be available for sale on September 29, 2015. More images at Mirko‘s site.
Much is being made of the current resurgence in vinyl, I for one am very much in favour of it (and have never considered it dead). The reissue market is also on the rise, even the trendiest clothes shops have small record sections devoted to yesterdays hip -and music, even the old stuff is always somebody elses new stuff. Of late I have been involved in the process of a number of such reissues, with the latest being for Peter Gabriel – his first four self-titled albums having been half-speed remastered (a process I can’t explain) and set to be rereleased as 2xvinyl in gatefold sleeves, very nice too. The first part of the art/design process was getting hold of the artwork of the time, fortunately much had been archived by the original designers Hipgnosis/Storm Thorgerson and Peter himself, and most was in pretty good condition. I set about getting all the original parts rescanned and photographed at hi-res, determined that if the music was getting a spit-and-polish then the sleeves ought to too. I had grown up looking at these record sleeves (I have a distinct memory of being wowed by the PG1 ‘Car’ cover in the window of Bullough Bros. Electrical on Portishead High Street when I was about 6!) and it was marvellous having the chance to see the original works in detail – the scalpel-scratched water droplets on the car bonnet of PG1, the tippexed and paper tears on the scratches of PG2, and the smudged, scraped and, frankly, vandalised polaroids of PG3 – it’s amazing to examine the process up close and see the ‘idea’ remain so pure throughout. Thats what I love most about these covers, they were idea led, sure there must have been marketing departments and the like but one senses from the energy they still exude that they were born out of passion for both music and design, the rest fell in behind, certainly ‘focus groups’ were as far from thought as the Apple iMac I type this on, and it shows. Wonderful art for new music. The first four Peter Gabriel albums are available now from the odd record shop, the giant internet shops and even from the man himself at petergabriel.com/vinyl
Ex_Machina is a 2015 British Science-Fiction (but for how long?) film written and directed by author and screenwriter Alex Garland. IMDB describe the plot – ‘A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.’ – which is true and yet there is a whole lot more. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly urge you do. Beyond the story and apart from the beautiful photography, design and special FX of the film, the music plays a critical role in the viewing experience (as all great soundtracks should) and Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s score is of no exception and fits perfectly in its surroundings, always there but not always shouting about it, a bit like the birds in the trees whilst walking to work. I had worked with Geoff and Ben previously with ‘DROKK’ so I was very pleased when asked to work on this one too. I was given a number of approved stills from Universal Films and set about putting something together that I hoped would look like an object that might be seen on a shelf in Nathan’s (the story’s eccentric genius whose residence is also a research facility) home and also a homage to rated dystopian sci-fi of old, namely THX1138. I opted for a gatefold LP that looks arctic fresh, clean and linear, no superfluous movements or flourishes as the film imagery is so good already, some simple modern typography with a dash of chaos by means of a frost/blue vinyl splatter. Hopefully nice to look at, certainly great to listen to.
When I first spoke to John Metcalfe about his new record I immediately had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but I wasn’t sure how to achieve it. I was certain the cover should be an image which indicates a sudden bursting into (or out of) life, that flicker of electricity from which all things are born (or end). Some time ago I saw an exhibition of photographs depicting the moment a cathode ray tube tv is turned on/off and I found them immediately fascinating. I showed these images to John and he was equally taken by them. We got in touch with Kenzee Patterson, an Australian artist who works across a wide array of media, materials and technology and He was really into being part of this record – “TX-21PS72AQ (2008) is from a series of photographs depicting the flash that occurs the moment a cathode ray tube television is switched off. The random scattering of electron beams produces unique patterns in an array of colours. This fleeting moment has been fixed on photographic film, rendering visible a normally imperceptible phenomenon. As a medium, analogue photography has withstood its own imminent demise, making it the ideal witness to the death throes of an obsolete technology.”
We all immediately agreed the image was too good to spoil with titles or additional information of any kind as that would detract from its ‘non-verbal’ impact. This ties into one of the core ideas behind John’s album -‘that the absence of a specific narrative can provoke much more intense reactions in our subconscious emotions’
A couple of months ago I was contacted by one of the film-makers for an upcoming documentary ‘The Devil on Wheels’ which is based on and around the making of Steven Spielberg’s classic film ‘Duel’. Now, I love this film, always have, ‘Duel’ must have been one of the very first ‘horror’ films I saw and I was immediately taken by the thrill of it; So at first I was a little hesitant when asked if I would contribute a poster (along with others) to commemorate and help promote the feature. There are already some wonderful ‘Duel’ posters out there, both from the time and recent reboots, but mostly all centre on the truck (perhaps rightly so) but to me ‘Duel’ was always more than just this, here was a play on cruelty, one creatures determination to catch and kill another, seemingly for no other reason than because it could. I saw the truck as this great big rust-coloured snake winding along the parched Californian roads looking for its next meal, so that was the poster I did and very happy I am with it too.
Back in the carefree days of 2002 I used to spend an awful lot (more) time and money on comic books, at the time I bought a three-part mini-series written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith entitled ’30 Days of Night’, the story takes place in Barrow, Alaska, so far north that during the winter the sun does not rise for 30 days. In the series, vampires, being vulnerable to sunlight, take advantage of the prolonged darkness to openly kill the townspeople and feed at will. It was a great story and I remember thinking it would make a great film too. Five or so years later, this came to pass, a film was directed by David Slade which contained a great score by Brian Reitzell. Having recently worked with David and Brian on the ‘Hannibal’ LP art for Invada records I jumped at the chance to work on this Record Store Day 2015 release. The music was of course taken care of and sounded as good today as I could have imagined it whilst reading that book so many years earlier, David provided some wonderful photography and unused shots from the film, so along with some well-placed type and a lovely blood red piece of vinyl, I was pretty sure we’d have a good looking horror soundtrack on, and eventually, in our hands.
I have just delivered the sleeve art for a soundtrack that’s, uncomfortably, a little too topical at the moment. ‘Warning Sign’ is a 1985 science-fiction/horror film about an outbreak of a virulent bacteria which largely kills those who are unfortunate to come into contact with it. In my opinion, its not a particularly good film, but its saving grace is the dark synth tones of Craig Safan’s score which menacingly runs throughout proceedings. The original artwork was all black and red, as per the biological hazard symbol, but I was keen to do something a little more derivitive of the laboratories in which the action takes place – so I went mostly white and agar plate red. The image on the cover is a paint and pixels affair, my hand pressed on to paper, watercolours and a flick of paint here and there, stretched and embellished on the Mac, then printed on uncoated white/white board. The insert is a mish-mash of original tape boxes, films stills, my mucky fingerprints and mid80s computer type – all in a bit of a mess as the intention was to give the impression the art/layout itself was somehow infected/affected. Fittingly topped off with red/white splatter vinyl – well what else?!. ‘Warning Sign’ by Craig Safan is available on CD/Ltd Ed Vinyl from Invada Records.