Category Archives: Album Cover Artist Interviews

Interviews with album cover designers, illustrators and photographers

Interview with artist Kyle Lambert on his work on the cover for Muse’s Simulation Theory

 

Interview with artist Kyle Lambert on his work on the cover for Muse’s  Simulation Theory

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted March 22, 2019 by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

Those of you who’ve been reading my interviews with album cover artists over the years have seen many examples of “crossover” talents. In some cases, its musicians who, whether through their genes or through constant exposure to the visual arts, have taken on very active roles – as art director, illustrator, designer, photographer or muse – in the projects that produce the imagery that helps promote their music to the press and fan bases. In other examples, it is a visual artist’s exposure to new music (and the people that make it) that leads them to pursue opportunities to collaborate with a musical act or their label’s art departments. I’ve also shown you several instances when a visual artist who has built a portfolio of work for clients in the music business has then gone on to more/greater fame in other aspects of the art world (fine art, music videos, film and television, advertising, etc.).

Back in 2009, I published an interview article about a design firm called Pacific Eye & Ear (lead by Ernie Cefalu) who had an illustrator on staff at the time – Drew Struzan – who’d done some memorable covers in the 1970s for musical acts including Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Bee Gees and others – who’d later go on to great fame and fortune as a movie poster artist, creating iconic images for movie series including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Back To The Future and many, many more. Drew was a commercial artist (he stopped taking on commercial commissions several years ago) who learned how to work in a variety of traditional media – acrylics, pen and ink, airbrush, etc. – and then brought his own unique eye and abilities to create masterworks for each of his clients and, as a result, became an artist greatly respected by both music/movie fans and experts/critics in the fine art world.

Last year, working to update a list of people who’d worked on Grammy Award-winning projects (in this case, the rock band Muse and their 2016 “Best Rock Album”-winning effort Drones), I saw an article about the band’s then-upcoming release (Simulation Theory, released in November, 2018 on Warner Bros. Records) and that they’d hired a young movie poster artist – Kyle Lambert, whose work on promo imagery for hit movies including Stranger Things and Jurassic Park, among others – to work with them to come up with just the right cover art for that record and was so impressed with his successful effort on that music industry project – his first album cover – that I knew I’d have to find out more and share that conversation with you. Lambert’s choice of digital tools might rankle the egos of certain purists from the art world, but the results – done with a fan’s passion for his subject material – are certain to have evoked wide smiles from both casual fans of the visual arts to the most die-hard of ComicCon attendees.

I interviewed the ever-in-demand Mr. Lambert via email over the past few months about his work on this cover (its inspirations, the use of specific tools and what it was like to take on a collaboration with an internationally-renowned music industry client) and am now happy to share that with you, below:

Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – Kyle, I first want to thank you for taking a break for a few minutes from what seems to be a very busy work schedule to answer a few questions about your project with Muse.  If it’s OK with you, I’d like to first take you through my “regular” list of questions and so, to get things started, can you tell me how it was that you were first introduced to your clients – that is Muse, their management, the label or anyone else who served as your artistic cohorts on this project? Had you worked with them before?

Kyle Lambert – This was the first time I worked with Muse. I was contacted by Creative Director Jesse Lee Stout on behalf of the band to create the album cover for what would be their eighth studio album. Jesse was my point of contact throughout the process and the one who provided me with the brief and supplied feedback at various stages of the process.

Mike G – Prior to working on this project, were you familiar at all with the band, it’s “style” and approach to music and their back catalog?

Kyle L – I grew up listening to Muse while I was in school. I remember the song “Time Is Running Out” (from the 2003 album Absolution – MG) being a particular favorite among my friends. When I was hired for this job, I immediately went back to their catalog and listened to their music to reacquaint myself with their sound.

MG – I really want to know a) whether you got to hear any of the new record’s music before starting on the design project and b) whether any of the music influenced your approach to the design.

KL – At the time I was brought on board for the project, Muse had already released three singles that would be featured on the album and also had produced some visually creative music videos.

MG – So, was there a particular track from the record’s track list of what was to be included in the package – or something special about the music overall – that served as the inspiration for the package’s overall design?

KL – The final art combines portraits of Matt (Bellamy), Chris (Wolstenholme) and Dom (i.e., Dominic Howard) with the characters seen in the music videos for the songs “Something Human”,” Thought Contagion”, “Dig Down” and “The Dark Side”. In particular, I really responded to the video for the track “Thought Contagion”. The video has a really vibrant color palette and was filled with characters that looked like they belonged in a science fiction movie. After seeing it, I had a very clear idea about what I wanted to create for the album cover.

MG – Knowing what you grew to know about the people involved and your overall knowledge of “what works” in the entertainment business, do you feel that there’s something that makes Muse different from other bands in their “category”? Was the band – or the people at Warner Bros. Records – known to have a particular approach to promoting and packaging their music?

KL – Muse are a notoriously creative band, and the band members are the driving force behind all aspects related to their music. The idea to have a movie poster image serve as the album cover came from Dom, who was also involved in reviewing my designs throughout the process.

I think this direct contact with the artists was refreshing and led to the artwork being a true reflection of the sound of the album. For Muse, this was a unique approach to advertising their music, as they had never previously appeared personally on any of their album covers.

MG – Certainly a good example of a band working hard to deliver something “more” to their fans. So, let’s talk tech for a bit. How did you choose the tools you’d use on this effort? Can you help me better understand the “how the heck did you do that?” aspects of the project? I know that Apple products were used pretty extensively, but do you normally use their hardware and software to create your art?

Simulation Theory work drawing – Photo Credit Kyle Lambert and Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KL – The workflow that I used for this album cover is consistent with how I’ve worked on movie posters in the past. I use an app called Procreate on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil to sketch the initial idea for the artwork, and to do the detailed drawing. I use these tools because the Apple Pencil provides me with a very natural drawing experience, and this setup also allows me to work mobile if necessary. Most of the coloring is done using Adobe Photoshop on a Mac in combination with a Wacom tablet. I prefer to color in Photoshop because, at this stage of the process, I need a lot of layers and working on a bigger screen helps see more of the artwork. To finish it, I go back to Procreate to add some final highlights and details.

MG – It seems like you’ve found a good set of tools for this kind of work. Can you tell me whether any other special tools or techniques were used and incorporated into your work processes and how they helped you create the finished product?

Muse’s Simulation Theory iPad Drawing – Photo Credit Kyle Lambert and Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KL – One of the aspects of the artwork that took a while to figure out was the spaceship you see at the top. Initially, I placed a smaller version in the top right hand corner at an angle, but everybody wanted a more prominent placement for it. They felt it would be cool to have the spaceship looming above the band, similar to how Star Wars movies begin (Editor’s Note – the original Star Wars movie poster displayed the dreaded Death Star space ship and other fighter vessels).

I thought this was a great idea, but it did lead me down a path of drawing multiple iterations of the ship to convince the viewer that it’s coming towards them. For the final version, the ship is perfectly centered, which allowed me to use a feature in Procreate called the “symmetry tool”. It essentially let me draw only half of the ship, and then this tool mirrored my drawing on the other side of the page, which saved me a ton of time.

MG – Taking into account all of the production coordination needed for this work, can you tell me how long this process took – from start to finished product?

KL – I was given two weeks to illustrate the cover, which is quite typical for the entertainment industry, where everything is heading towards a specific release date, and so a quick turnaround is expected. This timeline also included a few rounds of changes and approval processes.

MG – So, no sleep allowed, right? While you’ve already described a lot about the process and how and when the artists were involved in the day-to-day development and review of your work, when all was said and done, did you feel as though you were given enough time and resources to do what you wanted to do? Were your clients happy with the results, and how did they express that to you?

Kyle Meets Muse – Photo Credit – Kyle Lambert and Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KL-Like you said, most of this was already answered in your previous questions, but I can tell you that Muse were really happy with how the final artwork turned out. The band invited me to meet them a few weeks after finishing the project, and I got to personally give them an insight into my work process.

MG – Of course, as I’m always hoping to give my readers something special in my interview articles, I’d like to ask you – without betraying any confidences, of course – if there are any other anecdotal bits of info about this project you’d be willing to share…every project I’ve ever looked into seems to have something of an “a-ha moment” or an “OMG moment”, so anything you’d be willing to share with me and my readers would be quite a treat!

KL – For me, my “OMG moments” have been seeing the reception of the artwork and all of the creative ways it has been used to market the album. Beyond posters and billboards, it was also turned into a digital coloring book, a retro 80s cassette, an Etch-A-Sketch portrait and a wrap for an arcade game. It was even featured in the music video for another track from the album – “Algorithm”!

Link to bonus content – follow this link to read a recent interview with Muse regarding the “look and feel” of their Simulation Theory record done by reporter Ed Masley for the Arizona Republic news service – 2/19/19 – https://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/music/2019/02/19/muse-interview-simulation-theory-tour-levitation-stranger-things/2882662002/

About our interviewee, artist Kyle Lambert –

Artist Kyle Lambert – Photo Credit – Kyle Lambert and Greg Preston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born in July, 1987 and raised and educated in Manchester, U.K., Kyle Lambert is an Illustrator whose portfolio includes advertising/promo and related work for a number of the world’s top brands including Apple, Adobe, Disney, GQ, Marvel, NBC, Netflix, Paramount Studios, the San Diego Zoo, Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, Vanity Fair and Variety, among others. He is perhaps best known for his artwork for the hugely-popular and award-winning Netflix science fiction/horror series Stranger Things, but fans have also raved about his artwork for The Blacklist and Timeless for NBC, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams’ 2011 film Super 8 and posters and packaging he’s done for releases for the films Jumanji, Jurassic Park and Wicker Man.

After first studying traditional painting techniques and attaining a B.A. in Illustration/Animation from The Manchester Metropolitan University – Kyle soon transitioned over to the use of digital tools/techniques and was first hired to create illustrated posters for an Apple fan event called Macworld in 2011. The posters were created on an iPad and were displayed at the event. You can find some images of this work on Kyle’s Behance page: https://www.behance.net/gallery/3926845/Mara-Digital-Painting

He continued his work for Apple Inc., U.K., as a Creative Trainer, teaching students how to use creative applications (such as the Final Cut Studio, Aperture, iLife, iWork, Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects as well as Autodesk’s Maya 3-D modeling package) while providing them with the support and inspiration they’d need to launch their own careers. He moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2016 to open his own studio (Kyle Art Studio) after he completed his commission to do the poster artwork for Season 1 of the aforementioned Stranger Things series for Netflix and where he’s been kept quite busy ever since.

You can follow Kyle’s career via his web site at http://www.kylelambert.com/

About Muse’s Simulation Theory

Muse Simulation Theory Box Set Package – Photo Credit Warner Bros Records and Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally released in November 2018 via multiple formats (CD, Deluxe CD, Vinyl, Cassette and Digital Downloads, as well as a CD/Vinyl Box Set) on Warner Bros. Records, Simulation Theory immediately topped the U.K., Dutch and Swiss sales charts (topping out at #12 on the Billboard charts in the U.S.). In addition to Kyle’s design and illustration credits (for the cover and for related merchandise, including clothing, song books and lithograph prints based on his artwork), other packaging/production credits go to MUSE and Jesse Lee Stout for Art Direction and Jesse Lee Stout and Alex Tenta for Graphic Design. For the Deluxe set, that artwork was created by artist Paul Shipper.

To see all of the available ways you might purchase this record, click on over to https://usstore.muse.mu/music/simulation-theory-super-deluxe-cd-vinyl-boxset-1.html , while a t-shirt featuring Kyle’s cover art illustration is available at https://usstore.muse.mu/clothing/mens/stacked-logo-simulation-theory-t-shirt-5.html

All images are credited as noted – Copyright 2018-2019 Kyle Lambert, Muse and Greg Preston – and are used by permission to illustrate this article. All text Copyright 2019 Mike Goldstein/AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All rights reserved.

Interview with SMOG Design about the I’ll Be Your Girl box set for The Decemberists

The Decemberists’ I’ll Be Your Girl Box Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Smog Design, Inc. about the making of their award-winning package for The Decemberists’ I’ll Be Your Girl

 

By Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

 As we’ve seen take place a number of times since the introduction of the modern album cover 70 years ago, certain market-savvy musical acts have teamed up with specific visual artists to collaborate on their overall “visual branding” (sorry for the buzzwords) for significant portions of their careers. Examples of these pairings include artist Phillip Travers working with the Moody Blues, Roger Dean’s visual stylings for YES, team Hipgnosis’ catalog of covers for Pink Floyd and Cal Schenkel’s mind-bending images for Frank Zappa and his chums (among others).

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Interview With Designers Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz – Talking Heads Fear Of Music Album Cover

Designers Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz discuss the making of the album package for Talking Heads-Fear Of Music, with design by Talking Heads and Spencer Drate; John Gillespie, art director, released in 1979 on Sire Records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

When you’re the lead designer assigned to work with a group of very creative people on a project, and that project turns out to be one that is considered to be one of the most-praised examples of that type of work EVER, it’s a safe assumption that this work would ultimately provide some long-lasting impact on your career, no? Well, in the case of Spencer Drate’s collaboration with David Byrne and Jerry Harrison – who both brought considerable training and talent to the table when working on designs for the packaging for their 1979 release on Sire Records titled Fear of Music, based on their educations at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design – it served to both inspire Drate to bring a an enhanced sense of independent and experimental thought to future projects for the label and its roster of musical acts and to continue to open doors for Spencer as he later set out to work as freelance art director, producing many memorable covers for clients in all areas of the music business over the past 30+ years.

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Interview With Designer James Faulkner – Public Image Ltd’s 9 Album Cover

Interview with James Faulkner – Public Image Ltd’s 9 album cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Interview Topic – the making of the album cover artwork for Public Image Ltd’s 9, a 1989 release on the Virgin Records label

By Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

When a team is assembled to create an album cover/package, a lot of talent can be brought to the table. In larger-scale endeavors – like the ones you’d often see for big-name acts, backed by significant budgets – a team might include an art director, a designer, a photographer and/or an illustrator (sometimes, both, particularly if there were logos and lettering to be done) and, as the folks tasked with these parts of a project would often find (and want to take advantage of), new techniques, materials and tools would be brought to bear. In the 80s and 90s, as computer-aided design was integrated into a products development and production, sometimes the tools that were “state of the art” at the time were found to be challenging to use, which would either slow down and frustrate some of the players or be seen as an opportunity to experiment and come up with something never before seen. Things like the budget, the production schedule and other distractions might force folks to knuckle down and get creative or, as might be the case in the production of the cover for PiL’s 1989 release simply titled 9 (which stood for the fact that it was the band’s ninth record), to frustrate the art director and leave him with less-than-fond memories of the process and, as a result, of the people who were there to apply their skills to the project via these new technologies.

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Interview with Taschen’s Julius Wiedemann about his newest book – Art Record Covers

Interview with Taschen’s Julius Wiedemann about his newest book –  Art Record Covers

By Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

March 8, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month, I reported on the latest effort by the prolific album cover art book editor and author Julius Wiedemann of the famed Taschen publishing house, who had recently announced the details of a new book just released in the U.K. (with buyers in the U.S. having to wait patiently until later in February to get theirs) titled Art Record Covers that, according to the press announcement, “showcases an alphabetized collection of artists’ record covers from the 1950s to today. Highlighting the relationship between image-making and music production, the anthology presents 500 covers and records by visual artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha and many more.”

The new book was assembled by “contemporary art and visual culture historian, writer and artist” Francesco Spampinato who, in addition to be an art professor at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, has authored two other recent books on design, including 2015’s Can You Hear Me? Music Labels by Visual Artists, published in 2015 by Onomatopee (Eindhoven, NL).

While some of you may recall that I’ve been working on a book based on the interviews I’ve done over the years with many of the best-known album art creators (due out later this year, I’m hoping), I am the first to admit that, as I’m not a trained art historian, I have always lobbied for the inclusion of album cover art/artists in the bigger ongoing discussion about the relationship between music and the visual arts, so it is inspiring to read books written by educators that further that conversation. Based on what I’d read and seen on this new book, I knew that I’d need to work to get a more-detailed look at the book and its contents, and the always-interesting Mr. Wiedemann was kind enough to work with me on a special feature for the ACHOF that I’m presenting to you today.

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Interview with Isle of Man PO’s Paul Ford on The Islands and Bridges Stamp Set by Roger Dean

Interview with Paul Ford, Stamps & Coins Coordinator, Isle of Man Post Office (UK) about the Islands & Bridges stamp set by Roger Dean

 

Roger Dean Islands and Bridges

by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

This past August, I reported on an art show that was taking place on the Isle of Man built around the works of artist Roger Dean.  With a portfolio that includes not only album cover imagery but (both alone and working with his talented brother Martyn) stage designs, architecture, calendars and a wide variety of merchandise, Dean’s fantastic work continues to impress fans with its ability to transport you to places beyond the imagination. He has worked in many different media, creating designs and illustrations for commercial and fine art customers, including several  architectural designs he’s done of dream-like living spaces and furnishings.

In addition to this show – titled Islands & Bridges – that ran through mid-November at the Manx Museum – a National Heritage organization on the U.K.’s Isle of Man – Dean’s works served as the basis for a collection of postage stamps produced by the Isle’s Postal Service, an organization that has gained a world-wide following of collectors who have been impressed with their previous series of collectibles, including specially-commissioned stamps featuring quintessential U.K. and Isle of Man subjects such as the works of the Aardman animation studio (Morph, Wallace & Gromit and Shaun The Sheep), artist Matt Sewell’s illustrations of birds and, of course, the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races.

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Interview with Susan Archie, 2015 Grammy Award Winning Designer

Interview with Susan Archie, principal of World of anArchie, winner of the 2015 Grammy Award for “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” for her work on The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27), released by Third Man Records/Revenant Records.

Paramount, Third Man Records, Revenant Records, Susan Archie, Grammy Award, Box Set, Interview, Album Cover Hall of Fame, 2015, article, interview

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors

With a thorough understanding of digital technologies being such a key driver to success in today’s music business, music fans often forget that the earliest recorded music came about as the result of an application of a new technology – i.e., those introduced by the early French and American inventors of the phonograph and the gramophone. While we take for granted the various advances in recording technology that have taken place since the late-1800s, without the energies applied – and risks taken by – music industry pioneers, there would be no archives of the performances given by the musical acts that have gone on to influence modern music and music engineering.

Like many an American industrial enterprise, the early U.S. recording business was also an attractive one to those individuals and companies looking to entice the public to buy their products, with some companies (Edison and Victor, for example) impressing consumers with the quality (sound and manufacturing) of their hardware (AKA record playing devices) and software (recorded content, in its many forms – first cylinders, then 78RPM discs, etc.) and others looking to simply “spend-a-little, make a lot” as production of devices and content quickly scaled up as the century turned.

In that second camp were the owners of the Wisconsin Chair Company who, around the start of World War 1,  launched a brand called Paramount to manufacture phonographs and, to provide a broad range of recorded content to play on those phonographs, operated Paramount Records as a way to produce what would turn out to be hundreds of ground-breaking recordings “on the cheap”. By the time Paramount ceased operations in 1932, it had compiled recordings of an impressive of performers spanning early jazz, blues, gospel, the Vaudeville and operatic stages and other popular musical styles. Continue reading

Interview with Emilie Sandy – Deja Vu Album Artist Portrait Series

Today’s Interview Topic – the making of the photographs included in the series titled “Deja Vu”, featuring the portraits of many of the best-known photographers from the world of album cover imagery.

Chris Gabrin and Elvis Costello portraits

Chris Gabrin as Elvis Costello, by Emilie Sandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever I view a photograph these days that was used on a well-known record cover – particularly, an album I remember buying from one of my favorite record shops (oh, so long ago), I tend to first recall my initial reaction to the image overall (i.e., what was it about the photo that pushed my “pause” button while sifting through the record bins) before moving on to the details found upon further exploration and assessment of the final shot used. I often wondered where the photos were taken, who the people were that you might find in the backgrounds and what sort of photo-trickery was used to create a number of the impossible scenes that were created for our enjoyment well before the availability of the photo-manipulation tools used most-frequently by photographers and art directors today. Getting these answers was one of the main reasons I began contacting the people responsible for a number of these images to ask for these details directly, resulting in the nearly 100 interviews I’ve done and shared with you over the past 7-8 years.

While I know that many of you have shared the same thoughts and fascinations about “the making of” many of your favorite covers, I have never before seen a case where someone who displayed the same interest in album cover-making as I have embarking on a project where, using her talents as a designer and photographer, she worked to “get inside” both the production processes and the minds of the people who’d taken many of her own favorite covers. Using her professional relationships with photographers including Anton Corbijn, Chris Gabrin, Gered Mankowitz, Terry O’Neill and others, U.K.-based photographer Emilie Sandy collaborated with these talented people several years back to have them re-create (to the best of their ability) and/or re-interpret some of their best-known album covers. The resulting series of images was called “Deja Vu” and, I think you’ll agree, they certainly work to shed a light on the subjects, their approaches towards making memorable album cover images and how they have ultimately influenced a young photographer’s career and her own approach to shooting photos that will endure. Continue reading

Interview with Juan Betancourt – Animated Album Covers


Tumblr, Betancourt, animated, animation, album covers

 

 

 

 

ACHOF’s Mike Goldstein interviews artist Juan Betancourt about his impressive collection of original album cover art animations

By Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

All of us, from time to time, are inspired by great art and design. Whether it is while we’re attending an exhibition in a gallery or museum, visiting the home of a friend, strolling in a public garden or walking through a retail showroom, seeing something that stops us long enough to admire it is an event that occurs with striking regularity. Sometimes, we’ll see something that makes us think “I could do that” (either in a good way or in a “my kid could do that” way) and, if the response is strong enough, some of us will take photos, doodle in our sketchpads or enroll in a pottery class, hoping to use or enhance our existing skill sets in efforts to make great art ourselves.

Here in “AlbumCoverLand”, great talent has produced many, many examples of images that have ingrained themselves in our minds and memories, helping us recall both the music we most appreciate and, quite often, the circumstances we found ourselves in when we first heard it. Fans of this art have honored these images (and the designers and bands that produced it) by purchasing posters, t-shirts, fine art prints, bumper stickers and other such merchandise for their own collections, while smaller numbers have memorialized the designs by re-creating them on their basement/bedroom walls and tattooing them on to their limbs. Musical acts have borrowed memorable album images and modified them for use on their own records, with the resulting “homages” or “parodies” in many cases as memorable as the originals (think Zappa’s “Were Only In It For The Money” cover, a parody of “Sgt. Pepper’s” by The Beatles).

From time to time, album cover visuals have inspired other artists to re-imagine the main image in full motion, whether in brief animations or in longer-format movies. Back in 2006, there was a popular web video that a team of talented animators at a company called Ugly Pictures created titled “Album Cover Wars” which pitted many famous record covers against each other in a rather bloody battle, with Billy Joel (on the cover of 52nd Street) firing a machine-gun at Rick James (on the cover of Street Songs), with Eminem finally shooting James in the head, spilling blood on Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp shoes (and that’s just the beginning). More recently, several individuals have worked to bring a number of our favorite covers to life either as “animated .gifs” or more fully-fleshed-out video creations. In early October, I located one animator – Juan Betancourt – who has received a lot of attention lately for his Tumblr site featuring an ever-growing collection of classic and up-to-the-minute animated covers and asked him to give us a look behind the scenes into his efforts to add new abstractions to already-familiar cover images…

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Interview with Glen Wexler – Heaven and Earth Dig album cover

Today’s Interview Topic – the making of the album cover artwork for Heaven & Earth’s Dig, a 2013 release on Quarto Valley Records.

Glen Wexler, photographer, album cover, Heaven and Earth, Dig, interview, ACHOF, Mike Goldstein, article, photograph, album art, record sleeve, Boston, Led Zeppelin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always been fascinated by the work of art historians and scientists who’ve developed and deployed technologies that have allowed them to look beneath the surface of centuries-old paintings to find either earlier versions of those same works or, in the case of 2007 investigation of a Renaissance portrait of a young woman that, after digitally peeling back the layers of oil paints, a work that turned out to be an undiscovered (and incredibly-valuable) masterpiece by Leonardo daVinci (watch this episode of Nova on PBS for the complete story – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/mystery-masterpiece.html). The results of efforts taken by forensic scientists have produced results that, in some cases, have flown in the face of the assumptions and determinations made by art experts (as exemplified by the aforementioned daVinci and a similar episode featuring a work supposedly by Jackson Pollock), while in others, we’ve been able to gain a better understanding of the processes followed by great artists as they experimented with ideas prior to the execution of a masterwork.

As it’s my goal as a journalist (and fan of album cover art) to present you with stories about “the making of” popular album cover images via the interviews I do with the creative talent behind them, I always try and get a better understanding of just how a great image came to life. In many cases, it’s certain that most good album cover artists are constantly building upon what they’ve learned via the execution of previous cover art commissions. In today’s example – the cover for Heaven & Earth’s Dig, done by designer/photographer Glen Wexler – it seems clear that the work he produced for his client comes as the result of a concept whose time had come, simply being the perfect time for the application of ideas he’d developed over several years and preceding projects.

Being as it is that the band’s music is, in itself, a more up-to-date iteration of classic “arena rock” from a long-ago era (rebuilt using vintage instrumental layers and modern production techniques), I think that you’ll find Glen’s approach to the creation of this album package – the cover, along with the stylish imagery featured on the LP sleeve, booklet, etc. – has followed that of the time-honored traditions used by past masters, with the results just as impressive. In today’s interview, we hear about this project’s details from “the master” himself, as well as his take on how/whether today’s album cover art is done in such a way as it will stand “the test of time”….

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