Monday, April 25, 2011

Cover art - Will Bankhead

All the fuss last week was about Lady Gaga. Not her falling over (again) during a performance, but the rather insipid cover art that she has so eagerly received for her forthcoming album. The said artwork features her face like a blow up doll blended into the front of a motorbike with Photoshop, complete with cheesey light sheens and hyper-real textures that has “service station CD bin” written all over it. One wonders if the hidden message here is “ride me” or “treat me like an object” whereas one caption I read had “Born to be riled”.

As appalling as it is, my personal retort would be “who gives a fuck?” in first place hardly anyone will see the album cover anyway, since most of their listening will be done on the radio and via MTV one presumes. Secondly, most people who do see this travesty will never see it any bigger than a box of matches on their iPod or the latest mobile device (who will need to or dare to show it full screen on an iPad or tablet?). This brings up the point of cover art in the digital age. Where does the future for music graphic design lie?

I recently raised this idea with the editors of Resident Advisor we will see if there is any response as it seems time now more than ever to start acknowledging a bit more the graphic artists making cover art and also those involved in video making.

One of my favourite designers/artists at the moment is Will Bankhead who has been responsible for the large majority of the recent covers coming out of Honest Jon’s Records.

Not possible to see at the digital level is his excellent use of mixed media. The two Shackleton covers, for instance feature the grainy textures of enlarged photographs and either added oil paints (on "Deadman") or embossed glossy textures on the surface (on "Fireworks"). His use of colour mismatching and games of repetition on the circular vinyl stickers is also commendable to complete the package, in particular on Actress’ now seminal album“Splazsh”.

Bankhead is an English artist based in London, and although in the limelight now for his work with Honest Jon’s (as well as the James Blake and Darkstar covers), he has in fact been designing for the better part of two decades and was one of the artists responsible for some of the most important covers on Mo’ Wax from the mid 90s.

No comments:

Post a Comment