Archive for September, 2010


September 28, 2010

First, thanks for your great responses to the return of the blog. Very good to see, after such a long absence, that you’re still out there following my ramblings.

We are returning, for those of you I know appreciate the ‘Graphic Design as an Extreme Sport‘ side of things, to some fundamental principles of how to approach and manage design projects.

Stories, of course, will be a major part of the blogs – and there are some corkers on both the Hendrix and Metallica projects!

The Hendrix ‘Experience’ – helping to create Suite 5001, a room dedicated to the memory of Jimi Hendrix – was one that certainly challenged values – both personally and professionally. I was initially invited by Mary Gannon Designs to approach the Cumberland Hotel with her – to secure a contract to create a ‘JIMI HENDRIX SUITE‘ in honour of the world’s greatest and most innovative guitarist (sorry Mr. Page, but I’ll qualify that later). I had serious reservations from the start, concerned that opportunism may be the only driving force behind the project. Yes – the Cumberland was Jimi Hendrix’s official address and it is where he conducted his last interview with Keith Altham but was there a real understanding of what such a project involved? You can’t fuck around with legends. In terms of design – authenticity, quality and respect had to be paramount and the key to securing the project. There was only one way to find out …

A proposal was formulated and I created a letterhead specifically for it – detail at the initiation of a project is very important to grab people’s attention and also indicates how serious you are … 

We were offered the contract.

Initially Mary and I refused it – discovering that the budget, quite frankly, denied any possibility of creating the vision we had of the room. Professionally we felt obliged to explain the main reason for our refusal – primarily that the budget was so low it was impossible for us to create something worthy of Jimi Hendrix’s status or produce the ‘wow’ factor the room needed. It was not about fees (we would have, and eventually did, do the project for practically nothing) but we had to question the client’s commitment to the project – it had to be something more, if we were to be involved, than a convenient PR exercise to promote the hotel group. 

The response from the Cumberland, after a few weeks, was an enthusiastic increase to the budget. They realised, when they saw ideas produced by other designers within the original budget – that they were simply not good or exciting enough to represent such an iconic musician. Mary Gannon Design and Satori were back on board.

I’ve said in previous blogs that it’s crucial creative integrity is maintained at all times. It’s very difficult, when times are financially tough, to refuse work – but sometimes there is no other choice. It’s a no-brainer really – work just for the limited money, be safe but ultimately disappointed and creatively compromised – or – take the risk you could lose the job. More often than not, from my experience, clients respect honesty. It is, after all, a way of expressing respect for them too. I’m sure, if this hadn’t been the right approach, I honestly doubt I would have  had the opportunity to work with Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Paul McCartney or Prince William and Prince Harry (sorry – was that name-dropping!) I seriously believe such an approach ultimately provides  greater opportunities to fulfil creative ambitions – not to mention the excitement and challenges that always appear in the process. The case in point – initially refusing the Hendrix project, but being honest about the reasons why – certainly gained us respect and, in the end, we were commissioned to complete the project. 

We must remember too that as long as we understand there are always people who know much more than we do – to help us in challenging circumstances – we will always find them – or they will find us. The trick is believing it. There’s never that much risk then.

What’s the worst that can happen?

We’ll soon find out!

More very soon …

including Gary Walker and ….



September 18, 2010

What can be said, that hasn’t been said before, about someone whose legendary status as showman, virtuoso and innovator is second to none in the world of modern music?

I have a friend called Jamie. Some of you will know him from my book – he travelled with me overland to India in the early 70’s. He was then, and still is, a formidable, larger-than-life character in every respect. His passion and dedication to Jimi Hendrix was equally impressive and uncompromising. Such devotion, from a friend who was one of the most influential and respected people I have ever met, had to be taken seriously. Because of Jamie I started to listen to Hendrix on a different level and began to realise to what extent the man and his music influenced and changed the face of modern music in a way only a handful of true innovators ever have. He had an extraordinary talent and he presented it with a rare combination of dazzling showmanship and heartfelt passion.

Scuse me while I kiss the sky’ …

A few months ago I began work on art for a Jimi Hendrix Suite at the Cumberland Hotel in London – Hendrix’s official home address and where he conducted his last interview just days before he died. Jamie was continually in my thoughts as I created a mural (of course – how could there be an authentic 60’s room without a mural?), an exclusive Hendrix Edition and customised a ‘Flying V’ guitar based on a famous hand-painted one Hendrix owned.

My work is, of course, dedicated to Jimi Hendrix – the greatest guitarist who ever lived – but also to you Jamie, dear friend.

Watch this …

NEXT: More Hendrix …

The suite at the Cumberland – the frustrations and joys such a project inevitably entailed. ‘GRAPHIC DESIGN AS AN EXTREME SPORT’ is not a flippant sub-title to my Blog!

After HENDRIX … METALLICA – a project that has kept me busy, anti-social and on my toes for over  two months.

See ya around yeah?

26. Modern Toss

September 11, 2010

Cycle-by Designer Considers Modern Toss

Hey guys ….Think you’re clever yeah?

Sending me an abusive personalised birthday card?

Think you’re cool insulting people yeah? 

Modern Toss? Modern Tosh more like.

All I wanna know is how you knew I’d end up being drunk on absinthe,

studying cracks between paving stones on the way home

taxi-drivers hurling abuse at me out their windows

and then me throwing up everywhere just like on your birthday card.

Think you’re some kinda prophets now do ya, reading the future yeah?

Tossers. See ya around.


25. WE’RE BACK!!!!

September 2, 2010


Well – it’s been quite a few months. Moving to Brighton has proved to be astonishingly creative. Within days of being here I found myself involved in two major projects which, unfortunately has taken me away from the blog, due to excessive demands on my time. Destined for a wall in a Jimi Hendrix suite in London’s West End … part of the first project looks something like this … 

and this …

 Much more on Hendrix project next week …

… and the other involves a band I have worked with many times before. Here’s a clue ….

Next week all will be revealed. All I have to do (hopefully) is use the one remaining brain cell I have left to seek out its compatriots and soul-mates that have  gone missing, are on the edge of a nervous breakdown or have quite simply abandoned ship.

Trust me – I’ll get them back and some great new stories will be written on the blog in the very near future. 

We’re about to hit the biggest band in the world  –  BIGTIME. M*T***ICA have always been a huge source of inspiration to me. Their driving force is about you – about giving uncompromising value to their legions of fans and challenging anything that stands in their way in order to achieve it. Love ’em – really do. If you haven’t seen ‘SOME KIND OF MONSTER’ DVD I highly recommend you check it out. 

Soon … promise

If you think you know what M**ALL**A are about try this …