Friday, 29 July 2016

We Have Lost The President

When author Paul Mathews approached me about illustrating the cover for his futuristic comedy, We Have Lost the President, I knew this would be a project that would not only pose new challenges but also be something very different to what I’ve done before.

The starting point was “Auto-Tech” robot, Brian, who despite only playing a minor role on the story, would be very present on the website and in the promotion of the ebook, so a design was needed for Brian, who was Paul described as being “like a dustbin”.

Having produced a few concept sketches for Brian, we agreed on a design, which I then took forward, knowing Brian would feature on the cover itself.

I produced various cover concepts, which included a headless president’s suit and various scenes of Buckingham Palace, which plays an important part of the story. 

However, we eventually settled on a view of an empty President’s office, being frantically searched.

For the final version, the character in the foreground was changed to a woman, but otherwise the composition of the piece remained close to my concept sketch, with added elements of stacks of paper, and the objects on the desk, which included a slightly comedic cactus, to inject a little humour into the already chaotic scene.

With the cover art complete, the next step was to bring it all to life with an animated trailer for the book. This was also an opportunity to emphasise the humour and originality of the story.

We Have Lost The President by Paul Mathews is available now as an ebook, from Amazon.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Music in colour

I’ve been intending to make a more ambient album for some time. While working on another music project recently, I started thinking about how nature evolves, preserves, protects and destroys, and what kind of music could work with that concept. And right there, I had the starting point for a new album project.

Firstly, I set myself some specific restrictions in which to work – no drums or percussion, no crazy bass lines and distinctive lead riffs. I wanted to make something expansive and flowing, with an organic feel to it. Something more exposed, raw and spontaneous.

Our emotions often feel at one and in-tune with the natural world around us, so I wanted to make something that might feel right to listen to when out walking through woodlands or countryside, just as much as it may be something more personal and reflective – and reflection is something we do more easily when we have that natural open space just to ourselves; those moments where we can experience a calm sense of time passing and be at one with our thoughts and memories.

I felt it was imperative to find specific sounds that added different textures to the music, such as you would find in nature – warm, cold, wet, dry, smooth or coarse.

I had been discussing the project with my friend Richard Hayes, who was again tasked with writing an introduction for the album. And during our exchange of emails, the phrase that became the album’s title happened to appear – Remnants From A Lost Time.

However, one of the main influences behind this project was synaesthesia. My synaesthesia has become a crucial part of my creative process, whether I'm creating art or music, although it is perhaps more profound when working on music.

When I'm composing something – which is usually improvised – I think in colours and textures. I might want a "blue" sound or a "yellow" tone, or something that sounds – or feels – like gravel os cool marble. This whole menagerie of colours, forms and textures plays out in my mind, and while it is unlikely to be evident to most of my listeners, for me, that association between sound and colour is a vital part of the process.

I wanted to work with green sounds and earthy textures, to match the natural environment which underpinned the album concept that was also inspiring the music.

With that in mind, for the album artwork, I set about painting some abstract art whilst listening to my own work-in-progress, which resulted in a series of pieces, which ultimately became the cover art.

Remnants From A Lost Time is available now via Bandcamp.