Archive for March, 2011

METALLICA Interlude 2 – Jimmy Chew

March 31, 2011

Well. yes … Jimmy Chew’s back again … demanding attention …

… you see what I’m up against ! Er … Jimmy … GET OFF THE PAPERWORK … Please?

… still to come after THE BIG 4 Part 2 .. (to be posted over the weekend)

Hanging out with the band in Berlin for S&M, missing the Viper Rooms in LA, mayhem as the METALLICA stage collapses in London, a dinner with Lars at Nobu with two Very Special Guests, Jimmy runs riot – and much more …

Breaking News – ZEPPELIN CLOUD

March 25, 2011

A brief interruption in the METALLICA Posts to announce a new AIRFIX Limited Edition Print launched through St. Paul’s Gallery in England – an internationally-renowned company which prides itself on publishing extremely high-quality images created by designers working in the music industry …

LED ZEPPELIN‘s enigmatically titled ‘DVD‘ (the first release of visual material available really) is one of my favourite artworks and this extremely limited large-format edition is a preparatory ‘photo-sketch’ which formed the basis for developing the final cover. After it’s release ZEPPELIN‘s ‘DVD‘ was described as the “Holy Grail of heavy metal” and “one of the best rock documentaries ever made” by Rolling Stone magazine. It was an honour to work on the project.

CLICK HERE for ST. PAULS GALLERY and edition details

CLICK HERE to see the original LED ZEPPELIN cover


44. METALLICA Part 4 – ‘THE BIG 4’

March 20, 2011

Well that’s a bit weird. How many 4’s can there be in one blog title? Well … 4 actually! …

Some of you may have missed the short Blog 43 …METALLICAInterlude‘ – Check it out below.

You’d get the impression from blogs on ‘LIVE SHIT‘ and ‘GARAGE Inc.’ that ALL METALLICA projects are difficult, challenging and complicated wouldn’t you? Well – you’d be right – as you’ll see as we move onto ‘THE BIG 4‘ …

and it’s multiple (ever-expanding!) components needed for the Box Set as well as the more conventional formats.

Each METALLICA project is completely different on so many levels. That ultimately is what makes it interesting work for me – it’s NEVER predictable and for a designer that’s all I ask. Sometimes it can take weeks to develop a final cover, sometimes it’s clear-cut from the beginning but difficult to make all elements work, sometimes several series of roughs are needed before final approval, and occasionally  a clear direction is established from the start and things progress incredibly smoothly. Thankfully, given the insane deadlines for completion and the fact I’d just moved home and studio to Brighton on England’s south coast …

– ‘THE BIG 4” fell into the last category.

Deadlines …

… are always an issue. Always. Very few people realise how much is involved in terms of sheer volume of the artwork required and how long it can take. The picture at the beginning of the blog gives you some idea of artworks for ‘THE BIG 4‘ – though less than half of what was needed overall. After a call from Marc at Q Prime offering me the project I headed up to EMI to discuss the project and to gather the information I needed. Unusually there were FOUR bands involved and that sent shivers down my spine – potentially 17 different people (and that’s just the bands!) to approve artwork. METALLICA I had obviously worked with many times and knew I had their trust – but three more bands I’d never dealt with and their management companies?! It was an enormous relief to hear that the final say on artwork approval was with the people I knew best.

The project was initially very simple,” said Archie. “Here we go,” I thought. The meeting was on a Thursday if I remember correctly. ” … and deadlines are … ?” I asked tentatively. “In 10 days … August 2nd.” Well I had to laugh. We both knew that practically it was impossible on every level but there was pressure on both of us to deliver. It would take 10 days to get everything approved once it was all finished. “I’ll have to work out a schedule,” I said, “but I have to say – it’s almost impossible to create one when it’s still unclear exactly how many formats there are and how many elements I need to produce.”

I’d been there many times before. To give you an idea of how deadlines for artwork are established – it’s simply and obviously – by working backwards from the release date set by manufacturing deadlines. Usually, production and distribution of a CD or DVD takes six weeks – much longer if multiple formats as complicated as ‘THE BIG 4” are involved. After due consideration and attempting to establish exactly what the work involved I sent an e-mail which listed the items …

“Outer Box (main Generic cover design 1)
4-Panel Digipak (main Generic cover design 1)
DVD Disc One: Metallica and Documentary
DVD Disc Two: Anthrax/Megadeth/Slayer
Gatefold double Wallet (cover design 2)
CD Disc One: Metallica
CD Disc Two: Metallica
Single Wallet 1: Slayer (cover design 3)
CD Three: Slayer
Single Wallet 2: Megadeth (cover design 4)
CD Four: Megadeth
Single Wallet 3: Anthrax (cover design 5)
CD Five: Anthrax
24-page deluxe Booklet
Festival Poster Sonisphere – double-sided
4 individual photos of each band on Stage
Guitar pick
Sticker – Box/Case Cover”

You get the idea … and that’s WITHOUT the standard DVD packaging and Bluray. The e-mail also included the following …

“Is it possible? …
Assuming … I have all the approved copy, the supplied artworks/logos/approved photos, all grids, format specs, technical information etc, and given a standard 40-hour week to complete all elements by August 2nd – I have, on average, 53 minutes and 20 seconds to complete each of the 45 items. I fully understand I will have to do at least double those hours but … is it feasible … perhaps not.”

So … promising to give it my best shot, ‘THE BIG 4‘ began in earnest. Starting with the very basics – this was the first serious design problem …

Four logos in roughly the same style? – I don’t think so.

I often have to find a unifying theme or device to hold a number of disparate elements together – these four elements were a real challenge. I messed around (I love messing around) with paper, pens, knives, scissors and a variety of art equipment and design tools (not a computer in sight notice) and eventually, with the use of a scalpel and wet, exposed photographic paper, spontaneity produced something I knew I could work with. It was simple (often the best solutions are), edgy (appropriate for the nature of the project) and, very importantly – impulsive and uncontrived. Here’s a section of it …

I developed the texture, re-created the four logos using it and had immediate band approval. Great start.

I wish METALLICA fans could see a lot of the work that wasn’t approved for Met’s CD’s or DVD’s. It’s not necessarily of inferior quality – just the designs are not chosen as the final ones. Very often, with many bands or artists a handful of ideas are chosen to develop – not just one – and obviously I like all of them or I wouldn’t have presented them in the first place. I’ve been offered an exhibition in London in the autumn to showcase many original METALLICA artworks, maybe I’ll include some of ‘the ones that got away‘. In the meantime, on the airfix web very soon – a couple of METALLICA things you’ve never seen will appear. Next time.

Having established a strong beginning to ‘THE BIG 4‘ project we can go into more of it next time in …
METALLICA Part 4b – ‘More on THE BIG 4’
To be posted March 31st

… and finally for this post – for those of you who missed this gem on Britain’s ‘RED NOSE DAY – Comic Relief’ fund-raiser last Friday (an astounding £73,300,000+ was raised by the British public) check this out … or watch again … important to watch it all and to contribute if you haven’t already … saving lives in Africa.


43. METALLICA – Interlude

March 17, 2011

The Chelsea Ram is a pretty cool pub. Patrons have included Joseph Feines, Gary Moore and Jack Bruce, Kate Bush and Prince William and Prince Harry. For those of you who haven’t experienced English pubs, especially those in London, you should know that nearly all bar staff are Australian. Most of them find bar work sociable and a good way of earning money which they can save – as many pubs have live-in accomodation – so they can travel around Europe.

Lars (Hi Lars) was in town and invited us out to dinner in London’s West End. We headed back to ours in Chelsea afterwards around 11. English people are not as obsessed with ice as Americans are, and we didn’t have enough, so Lars and Ricky headed off to the Ram to get some. Unusually the bar was only staffed with girls (Australian obviously) and Lars, being the social animal he is, stayed chatting to people until well after closing time. Armed with bags of ice they headed back home to continue the nights revelry.

The next evening I popped into the Ram on my way home from the studio. There were three guys and one girl looking after the bar – the girl being one of the staff working the previous evening. “Hey,” she said. “Who was that really cool American guy who was in here last night. He was great fun.” The three boys, knowing I worked with many musicians, leaned over to listen. “He’s in a band,” I said. “Which band?” she said innocently. More attention from the guys. “Metallica,” I said. “It was Lars Ulrich – the drummer.” The three barmen nearly fell over. “Lars? Here?” one croaked.

Metallica have a huge fan base in Australia, and these three guys I knew were massive fans. “We all had the night off last night,” said one of them pointing to the ceiling. “We decided to stay here rather than go to clubs.” He held his face in his hands. “We were listening to Metallica upstairs all night. Now you’re telling me Lars was actually here? HERE?

Ricky had arrived by then and he walked over to the distressed Aussie and pointed at the bar in front of him. “Actually,” he said, “it was just HERE!” It took them days (possibly longer) to get over it. Well it would wouldn’t it? What are the chances of  Lars dropping in to a local pub in London where the Aussie guys had travelled thousands of miles to randomly find themselves working in … and then MISS HIM? Tragic really but you gotta laugh.

METALLICA Part Four – ‘The BIG 4’ follows shortly

Don’t Give Up

March 14, 2011

UK’s ‘INDEPENDENT’ front cover, 13th March 2011

42. METALLICA Part Three – ‘Re–Re-Re-Re-Re Visiting Inc.’

March 4, 2011


Yes I appreciate your version of ‘SEEK AND DESTROY‘ is brilliant but it’s the Wrong Album. Wrong Blog. I know you’re excited about appearing but I DID say BLOG 43

THE BIG 4‘s next up … OK? … We’re doing this one now …

If I had to explain why the subtitle to ‘B*B G€LD*F Stole My Sunglasses‘ is ‘A Guide To Graphic Design As An Extreme Sport‘ I’d probably cite METALLICA as a major contributor to making that decision – a band always creating serious design challenges but ones well worth the Ride.

After completing ‘Load‘ and ‘ReLoad‘ – in 1998 I began the ambitious ‘Garage Inc‘ project. The title combines the ‘The 5.98 EP:Garage Days Re-Revisited‘ and the song ‘Damage, Inc.’ The album features artists that have influenced METALLICA (a hugely diverse group), includes recorded cover songs, all of their B-side covers released before 1998 and the entire ‘The 5.98 E.P.:Garage Days Re-Revisited’ – which had gone out of print since its original release in 1987. From the beginning it was clear it would be a monster graphic challenge as – no surprises! – METALLICA wanted a detailed account of the contents of the project in the packaging.

Everything about the project was a record company and production nightmare, stretching the limits to contain as much information for fans as possible. My first port of call was San Francisco to spend a few days collating the information with Lars. I mentioned my extensive archives in the last blog but the Lars Ulrich archives, put mine to shame. Rooms full of it – meticulously catalogued – not only stuff directly related to METALLICA but masses of articles, artworks, sleeves and memorabilia related to the many influences to be showcased in the project. Lars had found most of what I needed before I got there but spending time with him and going through his collection was an education and inspiration I wouldn’t have missed for the world. A brilliant experience.


Even the cover caused problems. It’s unconventional obviously to place the album title at the top of a sleeve design and the band name at the bottom – but it WAS the design solution that worked best and it WAS Metallica. ‘Racking’ was the ‘marketing problem’ apparently … ‘You can’t see the band name when you flick through albums and CD’s. Band name at the top, title less prominent – that’s how we want it.’ Hey – with a band like METALLICA maybe it’s just possible that something different is what’s expected from the fans? Just a thought.

VINYL – ‘Gatefold with full-colour Inner Bags’

METALLICA always insist on a vinyl release wherever possible. For fans (and designers) it’s a fantastic format, and on ‘Garage Inc.’ the LP, CD and cassette had to contain a massive amount of photos, imagery, copy and credits. METALLICA had the vinyl solution worked out. It was simple really (not) – ‘a gatefold album with full colour inner bags for the vinyl discs – loads of room there for visuals.

Impossible,’ said the record company. ‘Out of the question,’ they insisted. ‘There’s not a manufacturing company in the world who could produce it. ‘I understand,’ I said, ‘but it is METALLICA we’re talking about here.’ ‘Not possible,’ they repeated. ‘No listen,’ I said, ‘METALLICA want …‘ Deaf Ears. Deadlock. I often find myself trapped between musicians demands and record companies but loyalty remains unquestionably with the musicians – especially with METALLICA as their intention is to provide fans with the best possible value for their money. Fortunately there is another section of the music industry which constantly fights for what bands and artists want and, if I have real problems, they have considerably more clout than I do – the Management. Metallica management is heavyweight. I called Marc. ‘It’s very simple,’ he said. ‘We have contractual agreements with the record company. Here’s what you do …

I’ve spoken to Marc,’ I said. ‘He asked me to quote him …’Gatefold vinyl with full colour inner bags or no fucking record deal.” End of.

The CD – A monster booklet.

There was so much information to be crammed into the CD Booklet that serious research had to be done to find out the maximum number of pages that would fit into a commercial CD case. The problem … if the pages were too thin the print would come through and be visible on the reverse side of the paper. We ended up with a remarkable 32 PAGES. Now tell me how many times have you had better value than that in a CD? Here are just a few (!) of them …

It was one of the most difficult but ultimately most rewarding projects I have ever worked on. Stylistically it was sophisticated and random, complicated and clearly defined, tightly conceived and sometimes roughly executed – to me the perfect combination to make work exciting and interesting for dedicated fans. One of my favourite parts of the whole job was creating the artwork for the back sleeve actually on the front cover sleeve for ‘The 5.98 E.P.:Garage Days Re-Revisited’. Tape, torn photos and tracing paper were the mediums and I loved how it looked …

The CASSETTE … remember those?

This was the last format I had to complete and I was dreading it. It was difficult enough to arrange all the elements and design the vinyl and the CD booklet but the cassette was the most nightmarish. There were two cassettes in the packaging and each cassette case needed to hold a 12-panel double-sided ‘roll-out’ inner sheet containing ALL the info. There was no option to compromise on the volume – this is METALLICA remember! – it just had to be done. I got so pissed off and frustrated with it at one stage I created a 3-foot artwork which I faxed (yes – faxed) to Lars. I’d love to have seen his face as it just kept on coming out of his fax machine on one piece of paper … ‘I have a solution for the cassette‘ I’d scrawled hastily on the fax cover sheet. ‘Here it is.’ …

I’m exhausted now just thinking of working on ‘Garage‘. There could well be a couple of additional stories before the next major blog so keep an eye out … Take care … &ie

COMING NEXT … 17th March … METALLICA Part Four – ‘THE BIG 4.’


41. DEF LEPPARD – Escape to New York

March 3, 2011

Before we continue with METALLICA Part Three tomorrow …
… news for DEF LEPPARD fans and collectors of rock art.

It was a shock last year, when I moved the studio to Brighton, just how much original artwork (created over the last 30-odd years) needed sorting and archiving. I also realised there was such a wide range of material created for so many diverse bands and artists that I’m now planning an exhibition in the autumn to showcase not only the designs for albums, singles, tour programmes and merchandising – but also to highlight the wide variety of techniques used in the pre-digital era to create them. It’s hard to believe isn’t it  – it’s only 20 years ago that we entered the digital age to create images. Prior to that a whole range of different skills were required (and, sadly, many of those skills are now undervalued and others rarely practised).

Courageously, several pieces of artwork from the archives made a run for it the other day – leaping across the Atlantic in a valiant attempt to begin making the exhibition a reality. They will be auctioned at BONHAMS in NEW YORK next Thursday March 10th at 1.00pm. Those artworks that made it to the Big Apple will, hopefully, encourage more artwork to escape from over-crowded drawers, bursting filing cabinets, boxes and bottomless cupboards to find somewhere to go where fans can appreciate and enjoy them.

Click BONHAMS CATALOGUE then enter Lot number 197 in the search box to find the well-meaning little scamps. All the items follow on from there with detailed description/sizes/materials etc. Artists featured are THE ROLLING STONES, DEF LEPPARD and AEROSMITH

There are 4 DEF LEPPARD original artworks (Lots 201-204). The DEF LEPPARD lettering and the ‘Pyromania’ lettering are the original pen and ink hand-drawn works from which the masters for final album art were created. The two poster artworks have a trace overlay with colour instructions for the manufacture of printing plates. I love these overlays. They make artworks very personal. All items are mounted and framed..

That’s it for now but the next post for METALLICA will be up tomorrow


Thursday March 17th … METALLICA Part Four – ‘The BIG 4/1’
Thursday March 31st … METALLICA Part Five – ‘The BIG 4/2’

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