With our Figment Concert Poster Contest in full swing I thought I’d clean out the ole bookmark list and give you some relevant links to check out.  So here it goes –

1.  Having trouble figuring out how to create an authentic rock poster?  Here’s a tutorial.

2.  Minneapolis truly is a rock poster design mecca with Lonny Unitus, Aesthetic Apparatus, FLORAFAUNA and Chuck Ungemach among others calling it home.

3.  It’s also great to read about a band like Os Tornados, a six-piece 50’s & 60’s inspired rock band out of Porto, Portugal, whose keyboardist prefers to draw or paint the band’s posters as a way of translating the band’s analog esthetic. While you’re at it check out their music, it’s great.

4.  And speaking of other great rock poster design mecca’s Portland, OR is no slouch either!

Well that’s it for now.  We have some great interviews coming up, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you have an article, site or other piece of interweb flotsam jetsam that you’d like to share let us know about it by posting it as a comment.  Until next time!

Cleaning Out the Bookmark List

November 6th, 2009

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I’m an internet pack rat, scouring the interwebs for stuff I think will interest, inspire, and entertain all of my Figment brethren.  The only problem is that I often fail to bring this great stuff to your attention!  So today I’m cleaning up my list of bookmarked internet flotsam and jetsam, and posting links to some stuff I think you’ll really find interesting.  So check them all out when you get a chance.

Pitchfork has a great new featured called “Take Cover” that looks at album cover design by talking with the designers themselves.  In the first installment, they interviewed William O’Brien about his design for Grizzly Bear’s newest album “Veckatimest.”  Check it out.

In the “Do Not Try This At Home” file I found this beauty of a story!

I’ve always gotten a kick out of parodies, especially song parodies and this one by Cody Johnston of Cracked.com is a terrific send-up of The Decemberists.  So give “Hampshirefields” a listen.

And in the “We Are Not Alone” file I found this great Guardian.co.uk column by Michael Hann on…you guessed it “Imaginary Bands.”

I first read about Arik Roper’s new exhibit at Fuse Gallery in NYC on Arthur.com, but I found even cooler stuff on his blog.  Looking forward to seeing the gallery show.

Love feedback infused rock n’ roll?  Well then pray at the altar of Blue Cheer!

Well that’s it for now, but if you’ve got something you stumbled across that you think would be a good fit – let us know and we’ll work with you to get it up on the blog.

Sleevage!

October 27th, 2009

Sleevage

I was mucking about on the interwebs the other day and I came across this great Aussie blog devoted to album cover art called Sleevage.  From the early 60’s to the digital artwork of today, Sleevage spotlights album cover art with a dash of the cover’s history and a little of their own take on what makes it special.  From Andrew W.K. to Iron Maiden and XTC they’ve got it all.  So when you get a moment check out Sleevage, it’s a great source of inspiration for your own designs.

sparhusen2

Spärhusen, the so-called “almost greatest band from Sweden” were almost at the top of their game when their plane the “Swedish Fish” crashed on July 25, 1974.  For 35 years fans have wondered what might have been.

Well, wait no longer, because Spärhusen is back and in a far-reaching conversation with Figment News, keyboardist Olf Nystrom brought us up to date on band’s past, present and future.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

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Spärhusen is a mock-u-mentary web series from actress-writer-producer Ileana Douglas, and co-creators/co-stars Rob Mailhouse and Todd Spahr airing on My Damn Channel.   The program also co-stars Keanu Reeves and Wallace Langham.

In addition to the web series, Spärhusen’s long-awaited album, “The Best of Spärhusen”, will be available on iTunes and MyDamnChannel this fall.  You can also follow Spärhusen on Twitter and Facebook.

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So if you’re looking for more fake band inspiration make sure you watch Spärhusen!

R.I.P. Mr. Magic

October 3rd, 2009

DJ Magic Pic

I was reading the NY Times this morning when I ran across this obituary for rap DJ Mr. Magic.  I’ve always liked old school rap, but I must admit I’m no rap historian and I’d never heard of Mr. Magic or his radio show.  What caught my attention more was the role he played in getting rap music on commercial radio.  I had no idea.  I follow hip hop music a bit, but I must admit not as closely as rock.  Mr. Magic was clearly a key player in the early days of rap, but my ignorance regarding his contributions goes to show you that there are many people (DJs, tastemakers, journalists, publicists, etc.) who contribute to a genre’s success with little or no recognition beyond the most avid followers.  So the next time you see another band on Figment succeeding in an area you feel you carved out or helped promote, don’t be jealous, know you did your part to make it happen and in doing so created more opportunity for your existing bands or ones you’ve yet to dream up.

R.I.P. Mr. Magic

Kieron Gillen

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”

He also said,

“It is foolish to pretend that one is fully recovered from a disappointed passion.  Such wounds always leave a scar.”

Only one of these quotes from Longfellow was directly referencing music, but you could easily see where both could apply.   While it is true, music is the universal language of mankind, only some of us speak it eloquently and the rest are left only to appreciate those who can.

I was struck by this very fact, when I read a quote by Kieron Gillen in regard to his Image comic “Phonogram”,

“It’s my love letter to music. It’s an honest letter – I’ve been shacked up with her for long enough to know that she’s a bitch with a cruel tongue and will happily destroy people on a whim – but it’s still hopelessly in love with her.”

Hmm…sure sounds like Longfellow and Gillen are talking about the same thing…right?  Music can be a bitch, but an intoxicating one that many of us will never master.  So how do we express our love for it?  Well, it depends.  Some of us become avid fans, others write about it, and still others use it as a form of inspiration to create other forms of expression.  Phonogram is all of those things put together.

So what is Phonogram and who is Kieron Gillen?  Phonogram is a comic book created by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie and published by Image Comics.  Gillen and McKelvie have described it as “Hellblazer meets High Fidelity“, and it’s deeply inspired by music in much the same way the fake bands you create on Figment are.  What’s really interesting about it though is that it manages to express through words and pictures what makes us all so passionate about music – its’ magic.  Gillen and McKelvie describe it in this way,

“Music is magic.  You know this already.  You’ve known this from the first time a record sent a divine shiver down your spine or when a band changed the way you dressed forever.  How does something that’s just noises arranged in sequence do that?  No-one knows.  It’s just…magic.  Everyone knows that.  It’s just that some realise that it’s more than metaphor.”

Clearly these guys have a passion for music, but yet they aren’t musicians.  Instead, they are writers and artists who convey their passion for music in a medium best known for superhero’s and villains.  Hey, maybe we are talking about the music industry after all?  But seriously, Phonogram may not be music, but it is without a doubt inspired by it, and in its own way creates a little of its’ own magic.  With that in mind we thought it might be interesting to find out more about what goes into creating Phonogram and how it applies to what we’re doing on Figment, so we tracked down Kieron Gillen to ask him a few questions.

Figment News:   Tell us little bit about Phonogram and how you got involved with the project.

Kieron Gillen:  Phonogram is pretty much the story of me deciding not to become a music writer.  So instead of actually letting all this stuff off a tiny drop of mental-fluid at a time, I built up into an enormous septic sore which I lanced in one go. It’s distilled putrefied thoughts on music.  And jokes.  Always jokes.

I had the idea as something I’d like to do in comics, met Jamie and somehow talked him into it. I was very lucky.

FN:  What are Phonomancers and Retromancers, and how does magic play into the Phonogram storyline?

KG:  We use magic as a metaphor for whatever music does to people – it’s a device to highlight the effects. So rather than Dungeons & Dragons Harry-Potterisms, we have these low-level, often very subjective effects.

The example I normally use is the second issue in series 2. The basic plot involves a guy walking into a club and a record plays. Suddenly, time freezes and he’s suddenly confronted by an Ex who forces him to relieve a painful memory involving her and the record. Effectively, he’s been cursed by the record. Of course, we’re using it to highlight that gut-crunching moment we’ve all experienced.

phonogram-2

FN:  The artwork is terrific.  Is that all the work of Jamie McKelvie?

KG:  In the first series, yes. In the second, he was joined by Matt Wilson – who Jamie worked on his own Suburban Glamour with – as colourist. Colour adds so much to it, y’know? As well as the main story, we also have back up strips in each single issue, where we’ve bullied as many of our friends and peers as we can to provide. It’s just a big cross-section of everything we love in comics.

RueBritannia

FN:  In keeping with the theme, the cover art for Phonogram’s first series “Rue Britannia” is all based on real album artwork from Brit-pop bands of the 90’s.  For the second series, “The Singles Club”, each issue was influence by a single from more current bands like The Pipettes, TV on the Radio and The Long BlondesWas that part of the plan right from the beginning and were the bands involved at all?

Phonogram first six covers

KG:  The plan we have is cheerfully rough, and normally conceptually re-jigged from series to series. For the first, we wanted to have a deconstruction of all these album covers, which tied into the whole story being a deconstruction of Britpop. For the second, set in a single club night, we were inspired by club-flyers for each, highlighting each member – and the story itself was normally inspired of one single by a band in the year the story’s set (2006). Sometimes it’s a very tangential inspiration, admittedly.

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FN:  Your second Phonogram mini-series “The Singles Club” is seven single-issue stories, each following a single Phonomancers experiences in the same club on the same night.  What was it like combining all of these interlocking stories?

KG:  Hard work, in short. Bloody hard work, in less short, but more rude.  Basically, it involved a lot of flow-charts. Who’s in the toilet right now? Who’s on the dance floor? What’s playing? Since it’s quite intricate, what I actually did was hold most of it in my head – like a hologram of a story – and write it all as quickly as I could. And then when it was all done, I hammered it until it actually stuck to a time-line. There’s some subtle subjective cheats in there to help it too.

Jamie does a lot of work too – as he’s got the pages done, he’s forming an enormous chart of each scene in time order:

SinglesClubChrono

So yeah: bloody hard work.

FN:  You have a background as a music journalist.  How useful was that past experience when creating Phonogram?

KG:  It provided the thinking. When I said I didn’t become a music journalist earlier, what I meant was a full-time day job. As it was, I stayed in the zines and underground mags like Plan B, so it was just practicing analysing and thinking and obsession: all the things which power Phonogram.

I really consider Phonogram as music journalism in narrative form. The inspiration coming from a set band or song is at the key part of it. I mean, the last short story I wrote is just inspired by a conversation with a mate when dancing to Once In A Lifetime. Music is easy inspiration for me.

FN:  You also work as a gaming journalist.  Was working as a comic book writer something you always wanted to do, but journalism paid the bills?  Or was it just a natural extension of your work as a journalist.

KG:  I’m a bit mental. All the writing sort of forms a whole in my head. It’s all about processing reality. If you’re looking for a theme across my work, the obvious one is about humans’ subjective relationship with art. That’s always been there.

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FN:  You’ve now bridged out to work-for-hire for Marvel.  How does that differ from creating a book on your own?  And is working with some of the classic characters of comic books harder than creating your own?

KG:  Phonogram’s ludicrously hard, so almost anything is actually easier than doing it. It’s a great thing to have done first, because it steels me for even the most strenuous of tasks. Getting to play with all these splendid Marvel characters is a joy.

FN:  On Figment, our users are required to rely on their imagination to create every aspect of their fake bands, from back-story to album description and song titles. Any advice for our budding imaginary rock impresarios on how best to create an imaginary musical character?

KG:  I used to play fantasy bands a lot. You can see a bit of that in Lloyd, in the second series, who spends most of the time trying to recruit people for his post-Pipettes/Spankrock concept piece.

I’d always looked at the world of music, and see what’s missing. What combinations make sense, but don’t exist. The final time I played bands, our concept was the – still awesome, sez I – Mogwai/Wu-Tang cross. That still sounds fun. Someone do it.

FN:  Clearly music influences your work on Phonogram, but is it also an inspiration for your work for Marvel?  And if so, what bands are currently influencing you?

KG:  I tend to root around for an album to fit the mood of the piece. The Thor stuff has a certain epic melodrama heart-on-sleeve-ism to it, so I’ve dug back to the Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

Ares is this snarly, acerbic brutally smart aggression, so I dug out the Sisters of Mercy Vision Thing.

S.W.O.R.D. Is a lot of The Go! Team’s first album.

FN:  You’ve also created comics purely for the web.  How does that differ from creating a book and do you think that’s where everything is moving?

KG:  Interesting and huge question. I think it’s certainly part of the future. I also think with the web, the fetishistic power of objects become more important. People are less interested in just the thing, and more the totemic object. You start creating physical comics as art objects. Stuff like the Asterios Polyp which came out is a fantastic thing. The physicality counts. Writing for the web, you start thinking about the lack of physicality, and what that means. And I’m not giving an answer to that, because there’s so many.

FN:  Graphic design plays a big part on Figment, because it’s often the fake band’s album cover that grabs someone’s attention first.  How big a part do you play in working with Jamie on the artwork that goes into Phonogram?

KG:  We love the covers. They’re probably the single element of Phonogram which we’re most satisfied with.  We’re proud of huge chunks of it but the covers are…well, they’re the closest to actually what we want things to be.  The britpop deconstructions of the first series set the fairly dark, critical tone of the first series.  The Club-Flyer/portrait approach of the second focuses in on the importance of each lead.  And by having two totally different approaches, we’re trying to show that we’re about trying new stuff and pushing.  There’s been an increase in record-derived covers since the first Phonogram series – which some people, complimentarily, have said was due to us.  For the second, there was no way we were going to do that again.  Culture has to move forward, and covers are the first attempt to contextualise the art it contains.

FN:  Have you ever created a fake band?  If so, tell us a little about it.

KG:  All the bands I’ve been in have been pretty fake bands. I mentioned the Mogwai/Wu cross – which also did a lot of things with suits and fake-on-stage-arguments, which was meant as a critique of the lad-stuff kicking around in the 97-98 period this was happening. We were cheery wankers like that.

But I schemed up a few. That band originally started as a one-off punk band, aiming to make a 20 minute set of Nation-of-Ulysses-esque stuff, somehow blagging onto the best support I could find, doing that one gig and never doing anything ever again. Just to get it out of my system.

Actually, it was always a bit of a kick when I saw a band who broke through who seemed to basically be what I was dreaming up. It was cheery justification – and also, a quiet pleasure in knowing there’s people out there who love pop music in the same way.

FN:  What advice would you give someone who has an interest in creating comics but has never done it before?

KG:  Do it. It’s the cheapest visual medium on the planet. You go from where you’re sitting now and publishing your first web-comic in a handful of clicks. And it’s best to start as soon as possible, because the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll get good.

FN:  See any bands on Figment that would be good fodder for a comic?

KG:  Actually, Phallic Acid reminds me of the first band I was ever in. Mid-teenage punky-metal thing called Phallusy.  Yes, we were very mid-teenage.

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If you’d like to find out more about what Kieron and Jamie have planned for Phonogram check out their blog by clicking here.

Cover Jam

September 8th, 2009

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I thought you might all find this article on the guy who designed the cover for the new Pearl Jam record “Backspacer” interesting.  Goes to show you how a designer can always apply his/her work to a new medium.  Dan Perkins, who writes and draws the political cartoon “This Modern World” under the name Tom Tomorrow, was tapped to create the cover art for the new Pearl Jam record after his cartoon strip was dropped by the Village Voice Media chain of alternative weekly newspapers.  Not only has the cover been a boost for his career (leading to the design of concert posters for Pearl Jam as well as the cover of a special issue of Spin Magazine which features the band), but it also got him his job back at the Village Voice.  So if you’re looking for some inspiration I suggest you give this NY Times article a read or check out his cartoon “This Modern World”.

Covering the World

July 17th, 2009

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Larry passed this great feature from the Word Magazine’s website along to me the other day and I haven’t stopped playing around with it since.  It’s a map of locations where album covers were taken.  You can click on an album title on the right or just hit the random generator and it will provide you with the location of the cover shoot and other interesting tidbits on the album.  For instance, did you know that the rear cover of AC/DC’s classic album “Highway to Hell” was shot on a piece of closed highway in Staten Island?  Staten Island standing in for hell?  Go figure.

I think it’s a great source of inspiration and a great way to peer behind the curtain to see how some of these now legendary images were created.   So give it a try and if you’ve got the info add one of your favorites!  And if you get a chance check out Word Magazine’s website – it’s a great read too!

Hard Format

April 20th, 2009

hardformat1

Having a hard time figuring out the album cover design for your fake band’s next album?  Looking for a source of inspiration?  Well, fret no more and look no further, I have a website for you to check out.  Hard Format is a site devoted to the celebration of music-related design.  From old to current the site covers the spectrum of great music-related design whether it was created for vinyl, CD, DVD, Online or even music-related books.  Check out collections from great designers like Susan Archie, Tina Frank, Barney Bubbles, Mark Farrow, Stanley Donwood, Hipgnosis, Peter Saville, Jamie Reid, etc.  It’s an incredible resource and a real vault of inspiration!  So take some time and check it out.

John Coulthart Interview

April 14th, 2009

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We’re only a few days away from April 17th when we’ll be announcing who won our Figment Album Cover Design Contest.  With the big moment right around the corner we thought it might be a good idea to introduce you a bit more to John Coulthart who will be picking the winner and four runners up.   John is a very successful graphic designer who has designed artwork for a variety of mediums including album covers, book covers and graphic novels.   Although his work speaks for itself, he was kind enough to take the time to talk with us about it.

Figment:  How did you get started as a graphic designer?  Was it something you always wanted to do?

John Coulthart:  When I was at school in the 1970s I was interested more in book illustration initially although record sleeves were a big inspiration. That decade was a great time for cover design, especially in Britain where you had people such as the Hipgnosis team (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell, Peter Christopherson and others), Barney Bubbles, and Roger Dean designing very lavish and inventive covers. When punk happened in 1976 you got a change of direction which brought in a new range of creative influences and a new generation of designers–Neville Brody, Malcolm Garrett, Peter Saville et al–who went on to make a big impact in the 1980s.

The earlier group of designers got me interested in the pictorial content of a record sleeve, I bought Roger Dean’s Views book and later the first Hipgnosis book. Roger Dean’s style was illustrational while Hipgnosis used collaged photographs to create surreal scenes; Barney Bubbles could illustrate as well as produce amazingly inventive pure design. But I was mainly looking at things from the outside, I didn’t have much idea about how the world of print operated. The Hipgnosis book goes into some detail about the creation of a piece of design including the typographic elements so that told me something about the print process but design still wasn’t something I really wanted to pursue, I was more interested in illustration and image creation. It was only when I started looking at Neville Brody’s work that I began to get a proper sense of graphic design as an integration of pictorial content and typography. This was still only an outside interest, however, I didn’t have any intention of pursuing this as a career. For a variety of reasons, I left school at 17 with no intention of going to art school or college so I never gained any of the qualifications which would have got me a place in a design studio.

Figment:  What was your first commissioned project?

JC:  In 1980 I had a temporary job printing T-shirts and by chance met someone who knew Hawkwind. I mentioned that I’d been doing some illustrations inspired by their songs (and by Barney Bubbles’ graphics for the band) so he sent copies of my work to Dave Brock. That led to the illustrations which appeared in the Church of Hawkwind album booklet in 1982. It was a lucky break especially since a lot of the things I did for them were very amateurish.

churchofhawkwindbooklet

Figment:  How did you begin working with bands like Cradle of Filth and Steve Severin?

JC:  Cradle of Filth contacted me when lead singer Dani Filth bought a copy of The Haunter of the Dark, my book of HP Lovecraft comic strips and illustrations. Steve Severin got in touch after I helped put together a book of his poetry for Oneiros Books. He’d been doing a few solo CDs of soundtrack music and needed a new one designed.

haunter2006

Figment:  How collaborative a process is album cover design in general? Do the bands provide you with any input or are you allowed complete creative control?

JC:  This varies widely from project to project. Some artists have a very clear idea of what they want; work I’ve been doing recently for various dubstep acts tends to begin with my being sent a selection of photos which the artist wants used. I choose the best ones and place the type over these. Metal bands on the other hand may only have a vague idea in mind which we then thrash out in back and forth discussion. My being able to do a quick sketch of something often helps narrow down the range of options. The Jon Hassell album I worked on, Maarifa Street, went through several very different stages until we got something which we were both happy with.

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Figment:  Is listening to a band’s music part of the conceptualization and ultimate design process?

JC:  Occasionally but it’s more important to be aware of the music genre which the album will be a part of. That can dictate the nature of the design even if you’re reacting against it, you might want to create something which doesn’t look typical, for example. Lyrics and the album theme (if any) tend to be more important than the music. I’ve done albums for Cradle of Filth and Turisas which had elaborate storylines evolving from song to song. In both those cases it was this which directed the artwork more than the music. The Steve Severin album was music for a theatre production of a Japanese story, The Woman in the Dunes. Again, it was the story that dictated the design.

Figment:  What do you think is the key to creating the right cover for an album? Any tips you can pass along to the budding designers on Figment?

JC:  That’s a difficult question since an album cover is only limited by the margins of the artwork, within that you can do anything at all. People can often find or create a good enough image, the greater challenge comes with the choice of typefaces and where they’re placed. You need to think carefully about how the typeface relates to the design, whether the type elements are too big (a common problem) or too small and where they should be positioned. There’s often pressure from artists (and record labels) to have all the relevant information placed at the top; that isn’t always the ideal solution. Many famous sleeve designs–Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd, Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division–have no words on the front of the album at all.

atomheartmotherunknown_pleasures

Figment:  What tools do you use to create your designs?

JC:  I use Photoshop for processing photos or creating the kind of detailed photo-collage work I produce for metal bands. Illustrator is used for all the typography and preparation of the print files. As far as the artwork itself is concerned, anything goes. I’ve used bits of painting and drawing collaged into some designs and also use elements from my own photos. A couple of title designs such as the Turisas name started life as hand-drawn pieces which were then polished in the computer.

Figment:  Art and commerce are often at odds, but what part do you feel album cover design plays in both? Do you think a good album cover design can actually enhance both the art (the recording) and/or the sales of a recording?

JC:  Led Zeppelin heard some music business wag joke that they could sell their albums even if they were packaged in brown paper bags so that’s what they got Hipgnosis to do for their final album, In Through the Out Door; a very detailed photo shoot was printed on the sleeve then the whole thing sold in a brown bag with the album title stamped on the front. That didn’t affect their sales at all. Successful bands sell whatever the package looks like. For unknown bands a good cover design is far more important since they want their work to stand out. Beyond that, a very striking or unusual design can make people curious about the music and help garner additional publicity. Peter Saville did this with his sleeve for New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies which had no words on its cover but used instead a colour coding system you needed to decipher. The cover picture of a still life painting by Fantin-Latour also bore no relation to the music.  Coldplay did a similar colour coding thing on the cover of X&Y and generated a lot of discussion about the album as a result.

new_order_power_corruption_and_lies

Figment:  You also do a lot of design work for book covers and graphic novels.  How does that type of design work differ from your work with musicians?

JC:  The general process is very similar–authors often have a say in how they want the cover to look–but in other ways book covers are quite different. For a start you may have to create a hardcover dustjacket and a paperback design for the same book. Then there’s the way that book covers get replaced very quickly and vary from country to country. Album covers rarely get changed at all once the album is released and the artwork becomes permanently associated with that release. Very few book covers, if any, have that kind of longevity. It helps to bear in mind sometimes that an album design will be around for a long time.

Figment:  You seem to do a lot of work that is influenced by horror and fantasy type imagery. Is that a personal choice or merely a reflection of the clients you work with?

JC:  That’s the kind of art I was inspired by as a teenager. I have an aptitude for creating certain kinds of horror and fantasy imagery so I regularly get asked to do that based on past examples of my work.

Figment:  “The Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases” is to fantasy medical conditions what Figment is to fantasy bands. How did you get involved in that anthology project and what’s your favorite fantasy medical condition?

thackery_diseaseguide

JC:  Jeff VanderMeer was the co-editor of that collection and I’d already provided some designs for his earlier book, City of Saints and Madmen. The Lambshead book was a lot of fun to work on, especially in the parts where I was doing pastiches of book design from earlier eras. My favourite piece is the Michael Moorcock one, Samoan Giant Rat Bite Fever, a very funny parody of Victorian magazine articles.

Figment:  You’ve done a lot of illustrations for Savoy Comics – The Lord Horror Reverbstorm series, etc. Are you a comic book geek at heart?

reverbstorm7

JC:  Not really. I started adapting some HP Lovecraft stories as comic strips mainly as a chance to illustrate the whole of a story. That coincided with the sudden flush of interest in comics in the late 1980s so for a while I was working at the edges of the mainstream comics medium. I lost interest when I realised I preferred doing one-off pictures rather than drawing the same character over and over. The best part of that association was getting to know writers like Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline) who are now a lot more well-known. I’ve been fortunate to work with Alan on several occasions as a consequence of this.

finch1

Figment:  I love the artwork you did for the cover of the book “Finch” by Jeff Vandermeer.  How much time goes into a project like that?

JC:  That took about two weeks altogether. That’s about average for a detailed piece of Photoshop collage work.

Figment:  What projects are you currently working on?

JC:  I’ve just finished an illustration for a short story and I’m doing a T-shirt design for a US metal band called Cyaegha whose album, Steps of Descent, I designed last year.

Figment:  If you had a fake band what would its name be?

JC:  I’ve been listening to a lot of psychedelic music from the late Sixties recently, one of my favourite periods. Many of the obscure Brit bands of that era had ludicrous names like Mandrake Paddle Steamer, Wimple Winch, The Orange Seaweed, Felius Andromeda and so on. I think a silly psychedelic name would be ideal but I’d have to give some thought as to what that might be.


We’d like say thanks to John for taking the time to speak to us.  He’s been a pleasure to work with throughout this contest and we look forward to seeing what design he picks as the winner!  Do yourself a favor and visit his website and buy some of his work.  He’s a great designer.