Hi everyone. Omg third quarter 2020! Home stretch on this crazy year. I’m sure 2021 will be way better, because that’s how it works right? RIGHT???
Gotta say, this has easily been the least inspiring year I’ve experienced on this planet. Sometimes, I’ll get ideas for personal work, but then I’m like, what’s the point really? Everything feels so contrived, and I just can’t help but shake this feeling like there are bigger things I should be worrying about right now.
It’s Looking like these next few months might be the most trying for a number of reasons. We’re expecting our fourth child and of October, cold/flu seasons coming and I don’t think I even need to mention the societal challenges we’re staring down the barrel of. It’s a strange time to try to be creative, to be a parent, to provide, to protect, and to constantly feel like I should be doing more.
At the same time, I shouldn’t complain. I know I’m on the luckier side of things. I have a great support system and have been fortunate to keep busy enough with work, but damn. Lot of crappy stuff’s happened too. Its hard to stay positive some days.
How are you all holding up? What are you doing to maintain?
As crappy as 2020 has been, At least I can now show some stuff I did last year for my friend’s upcoming album release!
My friend Ian is a rapper who goes by the name “Aesop Rock”. Ian is a very nice man, and is also a very talented musician. I was a fan of his work long before we met. Connected with him through friends years ago, and over the past decade he’s grown to become one of my closest buds.
Ian actually studied painting in college and was aiming to make a career out of it, but somewhere along the way he made some rap songs and through them forged an alternate creative path. Its cool because he can think like a visual artist which makes him a lot of fun to work with and bounce ideas off of..
After listening to the album a bunch and lots of conversation about themes and concepts, I ran off to my little corner and drew up a few different ideas I thought could work. I knew it was gonna be a double album and thought it would be fun to do a panoramic type Illo that would wrap across the front and back covers and then around into the inside as well.
I swung wide with a few different ideas based loosely around the album title “spirit world field guide”. I wanted to do something that felt magical or otherworldly, spoke of “discovery” but not too literal. Glowing bunnies, space man confrontation, deer in the forest…
Ian really liked this one with the floating deer, which was great because honestly I felt like I could do the most with it. Initially I had a lady floating opposite the deer, but didn’t love it. Ian didn’t love the lady either. Went ahead and fleshed her out a bit more and tried some different ideas. In the end we decided on skull. its iconic and feels kind of ambiguous and “spiritworldly.”
The painting was fairly straightforward. Tried to work things graphically, using lots of silhouettes and really tried to just play up the two central figures on the cover as much as possible. Hid a bunch of animals in the trees and branches, had a lot of fun with it.
The layout was a bit more involved than usual because of the albums length. I had to try to figure out how to squeeze 21 track credits inside, which is harder than it sounds! Ended up doing kind of an “astral map” type treatment anchored around the moon and seemingly highlighting and connecting stars with ley lines. The text treatment with the chromatic offset was done to reference the idea that the spirit world layered on top our own.
Also drew a bunch of these little icons as supplemental graphic elements to incorporate into the album’s graphic design, and to be used for merch and whatever else.
Also did a bunch more for “the gates” music video Brilliantly animated by the incomparable Rob Shaw. I had a blast on this stuff. Being such a “renderer” by nature, it was a lot of fun working more symbolically. These were all drawn in procreate on my iPad. The “quick shape” feature makes drawing stuff like this pretty satisfying.
heres a link to the video:
pretty cool what he was able to do with them.
anyhoo, stay safe everyone.
Wow, the painting for this album is incredible! Great graphic style, quite different from what I have seen of your naturalistic oil paintings. I presume this is digital, as the intense light and glow effects would hard to pull off with traditional media. The icons are awesome too.
Oh man, Muddy Colour and Aesop Rock, not a crossover I expected, but a pleasant one. And great work on it, I loved seeing the cover art when i first saw it as the new song debued, so it’s fantastic to get a bit of a behind the scenes look.