Although I don’t consider myself to be an “internet artist”, I am definitely an example of a creative who has built a brand and managed to make a name for myself online. I speak about the internet, accumulating a large audience and it’s importance to my practice a lot in interviews, but something I realised recently was that I’ve never really taken any of you on the journey from first point of contact to conception and completion. One of my most recent commercial illustration projects is a perfect example of how publishing your work online can translate into real-life work so I thought, why not? Let's dooooo it.
Recently I had the pleasure of working with the boys from Kisschasy on a tee graphic for their farewell tour. I’ve worked with bands and musicians before on everything from merch and promotional material to album art, but this was different because Kisschasy was one of those bands for me. You know one of those bands you completely wreck the CDs from over-listening as a teenager? It’s one thing to work for bands you think are cool, but it’s another to work with a client who’s music you’ve loved for over a decade.
A few weeks ago, just after I had learned the band was embarking on their final chapter and I had wrapped my little paws around those e-tickets, I made an Instagram post with a bear graphic I had designed for my collection with The Club of Odd Volumes. Although it had nothing to do with the image, I paid homage to the band in the caption and thought nothing of it.
“I just bought tickets to Kisschasy's last ever show in Sydney - the end of an era! Album covers were something that really sparked my interest in illustration and design - one of the first things that made me think "I really want to make that!". I remember United Paper People being intriguing to me because in comparison to the other CDs I owned, it was unusually painterly and had such a rich palette. It's kind of weird seeing it on their farewell tour poster 10 years on!”
The next day I received an unexpected email from the band’s bassist expressing a mutual love for my work and that they hadn't realised I was aware of their music. I was ecstatic, and what’s more he proposed we work together on some tour merch - it’s not often you’re told by another creative you respect that they think your work is great, and so I was in. Coincidentally they had loved the bear image, but it already had a use, so I suggested they come back to me with some animals they were interested in having on t-shirts in a similar style. They came back with two, a bear and a tiger, and so I began sketching.
For me, sketchbook entries are just as important as the final piece because they act as a roadmap to guide and navigate you through the creative process. After getting down some ideas quickly I refined a couple of the sketches and sent them off for feedback.
In the end we went with the tiger and so I widened the stripe-type to make it more legible and less subtle, the only other feedback was that the band wanted to make reference to the fact that this was their final tour, and so we settled on ‘The Final Roar’. I photographed the sketches and brought them into Illustrator to start the digital leg of my design process.
I find that working on my freelance work can be difficult sometimes because of the isolation. Working at Cypha, I’m able to ask for other people’s opinions which in a lot of cases allows me to see things that I couldn't actually see while working so closely to an image. I’ve started to realise the importance of having another set of eyes in my freelance work-flow because of this, and so I asked Rocket to take a look at the design and let me know if there was anything he would tweak. He made a suggestion of rotating it a little, and at first I was hesitant because I had the final image at a certain angle in my mind, but after trying it out was elated with the change! Rotating it just a few degrees meant that the illustrative type became more legible.
I finished off my design and emailed it to a couple of people to see what they thought (people from all walks of life and experience levels - my boss, a friend who was a fan of the band and a friend who had never listened to their music) then, nervously I sent it off for feedback. I’m quite confident in my creative work, especially when it comes to the depiction of animals, but sending work off to clients for approval is like freefall, you don’t know how it’s going to end and at this point, there’s nothing you can do.
There isn’t always going to be a moral to my stories (you can breathe a sigh of relief), but I guess what you can take away from my experiences is to be open to sharing your creative process with others.
- You never know who's eyes will land on your work or where publishing it to a global audience will take you, and
- You're sure to find flaws and/or improvements that you hadn't noticed before (especially if you work in solitude).
There is little more valuable than a fresh set of peepers.
This project ran like a dream - I got word back from the band, plain and simple: they loved it.
Until next time kiddos!