Posts Tagged ‘andie airfix’

18. DEF LEPPARD – Part Five

January 11, 2010

UPDATE

Blogs have been somewhat erratic over the past couple of weeks due to various mishaps – see later!!

For those of you who haven’t visited the blog since DEF LEPPARD – Part Four, just start here. For those who have seen various intermediate blogs just scroll down to where you were in previous short posting on DEF LEPPARD – Part Five. 

THE COMPETITION

The response to the fans competition has been brilliant. (For details go to DEF LEPPARD – Part Four.) Our illustrious experts on the judging panel have been pretty tied up (’smashed’ is another word I’d possibly use!) over the festive season, so we have decided to extend FAN STORIES competition until sobriety returns and critical faculties are back to normal.

NEW CLOSING date for Competion is JANUARY 20th … 

FIRST PRIZE:
A poster edition of  your choice (16 x 20ins) and 5 cards
SECOND PRIZE:
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 11 x 15.5ins) and 5 cards
THIRD PRIZE:
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 8 x 11ins) and 5 cards

so get writing NOW if you want to win an edition from andieairfix.com and don’t forget to tell me which Edition you’d like if you win one of the three prizes.
&ie

DEF LEPPARD – Part Five

I’m certainly not a paranoid person, but sometimes I wonder what on Earth is going on in my life. It’s not just me is it? There are times when everything seems to happen at once and at the moment everything that happens conspires to send me off on unexpected tangents – ones that deflect me from what I should be doing. Ok, so before Christmas this alien attached itself to my neck – appearing like a tennis ball just under my skin. Got rid of it but the antibiotics attacking the beast created a nuclear war in my body that left me exhausted. Thank God that’s gone I said, as the volcano subsided and life returned to comparative normality. Back to the other stuff now. Get back on track, I said to myself.

Unfortunately, there was another alien waiting in the wings to knock me off balance – literally. This particular idiotic life-form was attached to a mobile phone and it was oblivious to the world around it. I reacted quickly –  when it stepped into the road directly in front of my bike –swerved towards the kerb hoping to ride up onto the pavement to avoid the inevitable collision but the kerb was the height of a small mountain. Hit the kerb. Bike stops but I continue on my travels through the air – over the handlebars, smashed onto pavement – broken arm. I lay there stunned for a while but, when I realised what had happened, my immediate reaction was to confront the fuck-wit alien. The bastard was nowhere to be seen – probably totally unaware that it had caused another species considerable pain and damage. Anyway – it’s a clean break, no surgery, no plastercast, so, as they say, things could have been worse. If I see the alien again I fear I will be extremely alienist and run the bastard over. !**@*!

It seems an age since Def Leppard – Part Four but we begin, after mishaps, with The Boyz again and one of the first computer-generated videos – remember this is 1992? 

The success of ‘Hysteria’ was phenomenal. The album, for those not aware of the scale of their success, charted seven singles in the US Hot 100. ‘Hysteria’ remained in the charts for three years and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. The band sold more records than any rock band in the US during the 1980s. It was a hard album to follow. The pressure on the band was huge – pressure from record companies was one thing but the self-imposed pressure to produce a follow-up album was a terrifying mountain to climb that took its toll. Cracks began to appear which threatened the solidity of the band. Steve Clark had problems with alcohol and the person I met during the ‘leave of absence’ the band rightly and loyally insisted on, was increasingly plagued by self-doubt and was visibly even more fragile than usual. In early January 1991, the band lost him to an accidental mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. It’s 19 years this week since Steve’s tragic death. Although he died before the release of ‘Adrenalize’, his contribution to the album is awesome. Here’s the original Steve Clark version of  ‘Tear It Down.’ Genius.

ADRENALIZE

The band decided to continue recording the album and ‘Adrenalize’ was finally released in the Spring of 1992. It was a difficult sleeve to create, despite it’s deceptive simplicity. The concept was unanimously approved at ‘first roughs’ stage. 

 

Developing the idea into the final image for the cover required inventing innovative techniques to match the clear picture I had in my head of what I wanted. Developing the idea into the final image for the cover required considerable experimentation. The ‘Exploding Eye’ image, clearly defined in my Mind’s Eye, proved extremely difficult to create with convincing authenticity. I called in the cavalry – a friend and colleague at the cutting-edge of image manipulation – a photographer and photo-retoucher called Rob Farrar. I’d worked with him on several occasions previously (he created the final composite for the ‘Hysteria ‘ sleeve) and many times since*. He was someone who instantly and intuitively ‘got it’ when I tried to explain what I was trying to illustrate – not just technically but emotionally. Not only was Rob a brilliant retoucher but he was also keen to develop photographic techniques which would add further dimensions to his image manipulation.

 The problem with ‘Adrenalize’ was a question of scale – to create the effect of a mind-blowing explosion in what was essentially a very small object – an eye. To get from …
to …
 … required some serious thinking. Photographing an eye was difficult in itself. Highly specialised cameras were needed and they were impossible to get hold of – most resided in medical research centres. We did try but the results weren’t good enough. The original rough sketches were created as artwork – allowing the detail of the eye to clearly defined …

… so Rob and I decided on a different tack. The orignal Eye used on the ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ sleeve was created as a combination of illustration and photography. How to make it explode convincingly? ‘Let’s do it, and photograph it,’ said Rob. ‘What?’ I said. ‘Explode the image and photograph it,’ he said. ‘And how do you suggest we do that Rob?’ … The image was photographed on a 10×16 transparency – I literally cut the Eye up into sections – we placed them on a light-box exactly how we thought the sections would be displaced by an explosion – and after a series (dozens) of experiments blasting different levels of light through the transparency glued to the lightbox, we finally had a brillant result where the lightbursts were convincingly real.

However, as much computers have advanced since then – they can’t provide me with the use of two hands when I’ve a broken arm. Try it – it’s a nightmare … progress is slow but I’ll be back with more in a couple of days …

Before our next episode, I’ll leave you, in this special anniversary week, with a poignant tribute video showcasing a rare and amazing talent … sadly missed.

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17. DEF LEPPARD – Part Four

December 11, 2009

DEF LEPPARD – Part Five 
… posted January 14th – 

CLICK HERE 

 

Once again thanks for your comments and e-mails. Some of them about Steve were very touching, especially the one from Lorelei ...

Hi Andie, Thank you for your beautiful reflections of your time spent with Steve. I can obviously relate to your sharing of feeling the need to look after him – as I did for over six years. We were blessed to have known him and to have loved him … Steve was loved by so many people … ’

We move on now on to the ‘Hysteria’ singles, an exhibition of DEF LEPPARD art and vinyl in London, the wonderful Juan (the ultimate DEF LEPPARD fan), and a competition to win a large Edition Print of your choice …

People often ask me if I feel nervous or intimidated meeting the Famous. Rarely, and there’s a simple reason. I was in Paul McCartney’s dressing room on the opening night of his first tour in well over a decade. He was generous enough to meet a number of people who were waiting outside his door to meet him. This poor woman, when she came in, was so nervous she was visibly trembling and opened her mouth several times to speak – but the words just didn’t happen. She was mortified. She’d won a competition to meet him and had waited over twenty years to be face to face with her idol. She just didn’t know what to say. What DO you say to Paul McCartney? That’s exactly the reason why I don’t get nervous – I have something to talk about – the project we’re working on. I have to discuss something that’s important, something to focus on that’s not about me or who I’m meeting – there’s a common ground which allows relationships to develop naturally.

I met DEF LEPPARD many times – at Joe’s house in Ireland, in Ibiza at recording sessions, at rehearsals for a tour and in numerous dressing rooms when they were on tour. They were great times but we had work to do and that was a responsibility we all took seriously. As Pete Burns said – ‘It’s an album sleeve, NOT a cure for cancer,’ – but, in the context of creativity and careers, there was a lot at stake. Relationships tend to be intense and you have to get to know people pretty well to get the best results and reach the right decisions. By the time ‘Hysteria’ was completed there was a mutual respect between the band and I which allowed us to push the boundaries of vinyl even further.

The ‘Hysteria’ singles.

I had this idea, when I discovered that the record companies intended to release ‘at least four singles’ from the album, of dividing the album sleeve design into four sections to use on the covers of the four singles. Later I discovered there could be more singles and possibly different song releases in different countries. There was only one way to go – use NINE sections to create a huge 3-foot square version of the album sleeve. ‘Hysteria’ was the first time I had to create artwork for CD’s and I realised the new format could be the death-knell for vinyl. It was a defining moment for me. I hated the CD format, its size, its limited packaging possibilities and most of all I hated how it would destroy a medium I loved – vinyl. I changed direction at that point – we’ll come to that soon – but I knew for the ‘Hysteria’ singles I had to come up with something that had never been done before and would probably never be done again.  The idea was a defiant celebration of 12” vinyl before its anticipated demise. It became a serious mission and I was determined to do whatever it took to get the idea off the ground.

To design a ‘set’ of singles before the first one was released was a real challenge – especially not knowing how many there would be or what they would be – but I knew the idea was good. If there were problems we’d find a way to make it happen. I showed the band the idea and they loved it. We decided that the ‘missing’ sections not allocated to singles should become part of an Edition Box Set when the last single was released. With massive support for the idea from Peter Mensch, he persuaded the record companies to go with the idea despite the huge cost of production. It is hard now, in our digital download age, where designs only stretch to pixel widths, to imagine a market where the importance of of vinyl allowed inspirational ideas to flourish and where the production of singles could be so extravagantly experimental.

I didn’t realise it at the time but I’d taken on a logistical nightmare. Not only were songs released in different territories in a different order and with different release dates – in different territories the single’s sleeve-art was not even the same size. (You would think, wouldn’t you, that 12” and 7” singles formats would be consistent? – but they weren’t.) There wasn’t a huge difference but enough to mean each division into nine sections had to be re-figured to suit each territory – to make sure they all fitted together perfectly. Earlier I told you how I had no idea where that ‘screaming head’ came from but, believe me, there were times I thought it was some kind of weird premonition of how I would actually feel (and look!) during the project. (see NB at end of blog to get to grips with the release complications)

I was involved in an exhibition early this year in London, celebrating the history of vinyl and, for the first time, I actually put all nine sleeves between two sheets of clear perspex and displayed the giant album as the centre-piece of the show. It looked fantastic …

Ok … it’s FanTime …

During the exhibition at the A&D Gallery (more on the gallery when the Blog enters the bizarre and hilarious world of the WALT DISNEY Corporation) a new benchmark was set to define ‘Serious Fan’ – Juan is loyalty and dedication personified. I met him at the gallery and he had a wonderful story to tell …

Juan lived in Madrid. He saw the exhibition advertised but there were only a few days left to get to England before the show closed on the Saturday. He was working so couldn’t leave until Saturday morning. He phoned his English friend who lived in London to ask if he could stay with him for the weekend, bought a plane ticket and flew to London. So …. Juan arrived and said to his friend … ‘I have to go to this exhibition.’ … ‘Where is it?’ said the friend … Juan checks on the website. ‘Chiltern Street, West One,’ he says … ‘No’ says his friend, ‘you’re confused Juan – Chiltern Street is where I live. That’s where you are now. Where’s the gallery?’ … Juan double-checks. ‘Chiltern Street. West One.’ he confirms. Impossible to believe but the only friend Juan had in London lived ten doors away from the exhibition. It doesn’t get better than that does it? What are the chances of such a co-incidence? Nada. It’s people like Juan who are the key to maintaining what I believe my work is all about – being true to the loyal fans and inspirational enough to impress new ones. Here he is …

With that in mind we get to …

THE COMPETITION.

FIRST PRIZE:
A poster edition of  your choice (16 x 20ins) and 5 cards
SECOND PRIZE:
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 11 x 15.5ins) and 5 cards
THIRD PRIZE:
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 8 x 11ins) and 5 cards

What are your best fan stories? I’m not only talking about Def Leppard fans – but other performers’ fans too. The best 10 – the weirdest, funniest and most impressive will be posted on a special blog in January when the winner is selected. Whoever wins can choose a 16 x 20ins edition of their choice from my website. Here are just two of them … both new – after such great reactions from the ones on last weeks blog which showcased original drawings and sketches from my archives.

THE JUDGES …

All entries will be judged by a team of eminent professionals – high-flyers in the music industry – who will decide on the winner with objectivity, clarity and with a deep sense of responsibility … Oh sorry – what I meant to say is that the winner will be chosen by me, my Blogmeister Ricky and that weird couple Max and Rewa down the pub. Think of our team as Simon Cowell but with a more generous spirit and a much better sense of humour.

Comment’ your story on the blog or e-mail me from my website.
Make sure you state which Edition you would like to win.
Competition ends 20th January 2010.

One more DEF LEPPARD to go – ‘Adrenalize’ and ‘Euphoria’ … then we will begin working on World Tours (THE ROLLING STONES, GUNS’N’ROSES, PAUL McCARTNEY and others) with the enigmatic Gerry Barad.

DEF LEPPARD – Part Five 
… posted January 14th – 

CLICK HERE

See Monday’s post for details of some stuff  I’ve released from the archives to auction in London next week (including a few rare DEF LEPPARD originals and a painting I did in 1996 of MICHAEL JACKSON). In a couple of days, I will post the Indian story I promised you about Imagination. 

Stay well … keep your eyes peeled for a flurry of blogs next week … &ie

NB:
It did my head in just reading these stats (supplied by Mark from the DEF LEPPARD fan club – thanks Mark). It’s no wonder I had to ask Mark for the configurations – I just couldn’t remember. Now I know why!

1  2  3
4  5  6
7  8 9

1 = no single available
2 = Hysteria
3 = Love Bites
4 = Armageddon It
5 = Animal
6 = Women (US only)
7 = no single available
8 = Pour Some Sugar On Me
9 = Rocket (Europe only, but UK had different, non-segment sleeve)

The special limited 12″ edition of “LOVE BITES”:  the limited edition of that release had the 12″ sections of 1, 3 (Love Bites itself, obviously), 6 (since the UK did not have a release for “WOMEN”), 7, and 9 (some countries released this as “ROCKET”).

16. DEF LEPPARD – Part Three

December 3, 2009

Blog responses were brilliant and very interesting. So many of you enjoyed seeing the original print-ready artwork – so there’ll be more of that later – and also requests from fans for an exhibition of that stuff has made me take the idea more seriously. What a discerning bunch DEF LEPPARD fans are. I also realised, out of all the comments and e-mails I’ve received over the last couple of weeks, more than half of them were from female fans. DEF LEPPARD have a huge fan base of women – Rock was no longer a boy’s-only territory. Sure, there were female followers of other bands in the 80’s and earlier but DEF LEPPARD’s appeal was broader and intelligent enough to include many more.

So … where were we? Oh yes – no album sleeve. ‘Animal Instinct’ had become ‘Hysteria.’ It only took a few days to convince Adrian to climb down from the parapet on the studio roof (the studio is on the top floor of a five-storey building) and to tell him we were all getting pissed off with our endless trips to the supermarket to buy him more Kleenex. He was fine in the end. The band did pay him for all his work so that was some compensation.

A few weeks before I’d met the band in Amsterdam I’d taken a photograph of a friend of mine and, as I clicked the shutter, he was distracted by a noise and turned his head very quickly to the right. The resulting portrait was one of those brilliant ‘accidents’ that often take you by surprise. If I sit down to invent an image, whatever I do is limited by – well – me. Experimenting with different techniques has always been inspirational and many of my ideas are the result of something unexpected appearing – not knowing what the outcome of an experiment will be. Engage in the ‘unknown’ and you’ll be constantly surprised.

(In-between this Def Leppard blog and the next, I’ll tell you about something that happened to me in India that totally blew me away – when I saw a natural phenomena my imagination couldn’t have invented in a million years.)

The headshot of Robert contained a double-image. Because he’d moved his head very quickly the camera, on a low shutter-speed, had recorded a full-on image of his face – but also his profile. I noticed that his left eye had moved to become his right eye in profile. There was something very disturbing about the overall feel of the photograph. It doesn’t sound like a huge step in designing the final sleeve, but it was. I had a direction to explore which I was very confident about. I still had no idea where the illustration would lead but I was very excited about the possibilities.

I also wanted something as a background which placed the head in a strange environment. I knew, by the time I got what I wanted, the head would show a primitive fear so I decided on total contrast – something futuristic. What I decided to do led me innocently into the bizarre (and hilarious) world of ‘computer graphics’.

We started here …

We have to remember it was the mid-80’s and using computers to create images was primitive to say the least. Each time-consuming (and expensive) process was so basic it was about as exciting as eating a warm lettuce sandwich. However, the end result was the thing and I was determined to learn something about the emerging digital world for the ‘Hysteria’ sleeve. I spent days drawing the design for the ‘circuit’, stretching my draughtsman’s skills to the limit with pens, ink and a drawing board. There was a company in London which professed to be on the ‘cutting edge’ of a new creative phenomena and I went to see them to explain what I wanted – to convert my drawing into something more futuristic. ‘No problem‘, they said.  I had an image in my head of the computer operator – a rather geeky character obsessed with perfection. Wrong. I returned with my artwork and met my ‘mentor’ who had just returned from an extended pub lunch (VERY extended by the look of him). He stumbled into the room, introduced himself and I followed him as he lurched off drunkenly towards the room that contained the state-of-the-art computer. The set-up was professional but resembled something put together by a lunatic inventor attempting to build a time-machine. There was a camera the size of wardrobe, TV monitors were scattered all over the room and a congestion of unrecognisable electronic instruments were connected together by miles of different coloured cables and wires. My drawing was photographed and somehow magically appeared on one of the monitors. The amazingly innovative procedure followed – we painstakingly coloured in the white areas of the circuit like children with a handful of electronic coloured pencils – ‘No that one should be blue, change that one to green, get rid of the red completely,  more yellow ...’ Eventually after several hours we had the image I wanted. The wardrobe was wheeled in front of the screen and the image was photographed. There was no way then to transfer the final image to another computer – what I was given when I left was an 8x10ins transparency of the screen we had created the image on. The pixelated texture within the circuit wasn’t designed – it was the result of photographing the TV monitor – but it was exactly what I’d hoped for.

At the same time, I worked on the the main image. When I began to sketch it out, using the eye as a focal point, the illustration began to take on a life of it’s own. I swear what appeared surprised and shocked me but wherever it came from I knew it was undeniably powerful and perfect for the sleeve. Although I still had to find a way to combine the illustration with the dazzling computer graphics (!) I showed the band the first draughts of the head and a resounding ‘THAT’S IT!’ was music to my ears. The level had been set and the required intensity of the rest of the design fell into place comparatively easily. There are so many disparate elements in the final sleeve – the head, the circuit, the demented title lettering, the band logo and the triangle – it shouldn’t really work, but it remains one of my favourites and most memorable I worked on. I completed the illustration, in coloured pencils, within two weeks and the final result was definitely not ‘laboured’. It’s worth mentioning here that historically,’Hysteria’ was the first album sleeve  to contain computer graphics.

STEPHEN MAYNARD CLARK (1960 – 1991)

It’s difficult to say much more about Def Leppard without writing about Steve Clark. The second major tragedy to befall the band was the death of their amazing lead guitarist. During the recording of ‘Hysteria’ Steve often showed up to rehearsals or recording sessions drunk. Alcoholism became a serious problem. In 1991, on a six-month leave of absence from the band, Steve was found dead at his home in London. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be accidental – a lethal mixture of anti-depressants, painkillers and alcohol. Steve lived in London, only a few streets away from where I live in Chelsea, and we often met in a small old-fashioned but wonderful pub called ‘The Cross Keys’ – so I knew him better than the other guys in the band. I really liked him and we became close in a haphazard, occasional kind of way. Steve had a generosity of spirit and a vulnerability which was very attractive, but something deeply troubling was never far from the surface. Whenever I travelled to meet the band Steve always took the time and made the effort to look after me – the perfect gentleman, always aware of nervous or uncomfortable situations. Whenever I met him in ‘The Cross Keys’ I always felt the need to look after him. It’s hard to explain why I felt that way and, despite his reputation for heavy drinking, he was rarely out of control when I saw him. I guess I just felt the need to protect him from a world he often found terrifyingly complicated and difficult to deal with. Away from adoring fans and where he did what he loved most – play guitar – he was usually quiet, sensitive and introspective, He obviously found it difficult to reconcile the two extremes. Don’t get me wrong, he was rarely miserable or depressed – we often had evening of non-stop laughter – but there was always a nervous undercurrent of someone who could easily be thrown off-balance. What I felt with him was a responsibility to help maintain the balance. There are people in all our lives we feel privileged to meet and Steve was right up there with the best of them in mine.

Here’s a video from 1988 which shows his distinctive style and incredible talent – just brilliant.

On a lighter note, for those of you who enjoyed the ‘sketches’ and original art, and loved the new edition, I’ve created another new one using various ‘working drawings’ created on the journey to the final sleeve. Check it out at my website for more detail.

Next we move onto the joy of the single releases from ‘Hysteria’. Can’t wait.

and finally for Part Three …

15. DEF LEPPARD – Part Two

November 26, 2009

Welcome back to more DEF LEPPARD. Before we get to ‘Hysteria’, I’ll finish off on the ‘Pyromania’ sleeve.

Having a clear image in my head of what the cover should be was one thing, creating it was another. I’d recently met a young illustrator, Bernard Gudynas, who had impressed me with his portfolio of airbrush illustrations. They had a futuristic feel which was entirely appropriate to the album concept. We sketched out ideas, including a magnified section of the exploding building which I would build the graphic ‘sight’ around. It was demanding work for both of us to get it exactly right (‘exactly right’ is always a good aim). I had already decided the illustration should be contained within a border which smoke could pour onto – creating a further dimension to the design. The ‘sight’ itself added another – the ‘viewer’ – YOU. The sight, as a piece of graphics, may seem complicated and detailed but it had to imply a weapon much bigger than a rifle sight – a rocket launcher perhaps. Bernard’s take on the perspective – looking up at the building – created scale and dynamics. Originally the border around the illustration was white, to emphasize the black smoke, but when we tried a black border we all agreed it was more powerful.

Describing visual concepts sounds pretentious sometimes but that’s the nature of using words to describe images. (Artists are often asked to explain their visual work in words but I’ve never heard anyone ask an author to describe a novel by painting a picture.) Creating a visual image is based on intuition for the most part and decisions made in that process are not limited by the need to explain them. That’s why I love creating visuals – there are mysterious forces at work which I don’t really understand – or feel the need to.

I have been fortunate enough (I’d like to think talent played some part!) to work with some great artists who understood that intuition is vital. The ‘THAT’S IT!’ moment never comes from a long intellectual conversation – it more likely comes from an instinctive immediate reaction. There are a couple I’ll get to later, with PAUL McCARTNEY and with LED ZEPPELIN, where I was so sure which design they’d choose, I wrote on the back of it before the meeting – ‘You’ll choose this one.’ (Yes – Magic Tricks ARE an intrinsic part of presentations.)

DEF LEPPARD were a band I could rely on for instant reactions to artwork ideas. There was no pissing about. ‘Hysteria’ was a case in point. After working on the cover for close on a year, something Joe said made me abandon most of what I’d done and start again on the central image. In those days, and for such a major project, I had the luxury of time to develop ideas. Now, in the ‘I want it yesterday world’, there is often no time to consider and re-think – budgets and schedules catagorically deny it. I have turned down important work on occasion, simply because the time-frame imposed would have been hugely destructive to the creative process. I simply can’t produce half-arsed work that ultimately I’m unhappy with and almost certainly will damage reputation.

For those of you unfamiliar with DEF LEPPARD’s history, after the phenomenal success of ‘Pyromania’, (in 1984 the band were voted favourite band in the US – ahead of peers like THE ROLLING STONES and AC/DC), the next few years recording ‘Hysteria’ proved to be tragic and challenging on so many different levels. On New Years Eve,1984, Rick Allen, Def Leppard’s drummer, swerved off the road on a sharp bend near Sheffield and crashed into a drystone wall. He lost his arm. I can’t begin to imagine how Rick and the band dealt with the tragedy but what I do know is that their unswerving loyalty to their drummer and friend must have positively contributed to the the quality and impact of one of the biggest albums in rock history – ‘Hysteria’. A one-armed drummer? Surely, most bands would have considered finding a new drummer, however difficult it might be emotionally. Not DEF LEPPARD – it was not an option – they never sought a replacement.

Rick realized, after practising drumming on pillows, that he could use his legs to do some drumming previously done with his arms. He then worked with a pioneering British electronic company, Simmons, to design a customised electronic drum kit. Rick’s triumphant comeback was sealed at the 1986 Donnington ‘Monsters of Rock’ festival with a huge and  emotionally charged ovation when he was introduced by Joe Elliott.

Earlier that year the band had moved to Dublin. Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who produced ‘Pyromania’ began to work with the band on ‘Hysteria’. He retired from the project suffering from exhaustion. Pressure from their record company, clearly aware the band were on the cusp of megastardom, was intense – afraid the momentum built up by ‘Pyromania’ would be lost. Q Prime, the band’s management, in typically anarchistic but humourous style, got so pissed off by relentless requests from the record company demanding a release date, they asked me to design t-shirts for meetings which pre-empted executive questions. Working my way through my DEF LEPPARD archives of artwork (they’re huge), I came across the artwork for two of them …

I wish Lep fans could see the DL archives. All the artwork is on boards – singles, posters, tour programmes, calendars and promotional material. There is something about artwork with printer’s instruction overlays. They have an artistic value of their own, and obviously each is an original piece.

I’ve always envisaged an exhibition of the original artwork for DEF LEPPARD (the ones above are 2 of hundreds of pieces). I’m sure hardcore fans would be interested in the process that’s involved – how the work they know so well was physically created. Any ideas?

Before I began the DEF LEPPARD series of blogs I re-discovered the original sketch for the ‘Hysteria’ sleeve – created using colour pencils. So was the final artwork, but there is something about the preparatory sketch – an isolated image, not the final combination of all the elements, which is very powerful. I’ve said before that some of my favourite work is unpublished and this image is right up there with the best of them. I began a few weeks ago to publish some work on my website and I’ve recently created a Limited (there’ll only be 200) Edition of the illustration. Visit andieairfix.com to check it out.


which neatly brings us to …


Eight months into the artwork for an eagerly awaited album, I flew to Holland to meet the band where they were recording. The trip was one of the most challenging, upsetting and productive I’d ever had with the band. The working title of the album for a long time was ‘Animal Instinct’ and for months Adrian Baumgartner, an incredibly talented artist and perfectionist, had worked on the cover illustration. I showed it to Joe and he said, ‘It’s brilliant Andie, but don’t you think it looks a bit ‘laboured?’. Laboured? My heart sank. Adrian had worked with such intensity and concentration on the illustration for 5 or 6 hours a day producing about 4 square inches a month. Although the final work was astonishingly accomplished containing unbelievable detail, Joe was absolutely right – it lacked a vital spontaneity. ‘And,’ said Joe, ‘we’ve changed the title to ‘Hysteria.’ I had to start again.

On the plane back to London I gradually accepted that after months of work I had to find something more intuitive, dynamic and more fearsome. I was also dreading telling Adrian. My introspective musings, however, were constantly interrupted by Marc Lebon. At the cutting edge of photography (and outrageous behaviour) he had been shooting pictures of the band at the same time I was there. We discovered we were both coincidentally on the same plane back to London. We decided to  meet up in Amsterdam and had a crazy, extremely enjoyable night roaming around the infamous red light district – the emphasis being on the word ‘extreme’. Without going into too many details, let’s say the early morning plane had to accommodate two individuals who were smashed to high heaven. Marc, as part of our previous night’s entertainment had bought a couple of explicit porn novels and he decided halfway through the journey that he wanted to read extracts from them to me. It wouldn’t necessarily have been much of a problem except for one thing – he was sitting six rows behind me! An innocent adopted entourage of passengers were unwillingly (for the most part) subjected to an unrelenting bombardment of sexual scenarios they really didn’t want to hear over breakfast. Fortunately the flight was very short and by the time embarrassed passengers became a potential lynch mob, we landed at Heathrow and beat a hasty retreat before the police and airport authorities could act on the demands of our shocked and outraged fellow fliers.

Next time … more on ‘Hysteria’ – there’s so much …

Intro

September 2, 2009

From the first opportunity I had to design an album sleeve, with no knowledge of graphics whatsoever, I instinctively knew it would be an extreme and exciting experience. Thirty years on, the extremes and the challenges thankfully remain.

Many things have changed; the music industry, the introduction of computers and digital recordings, the means to communicate ideas over vast distances in the blink of an e-mail, even the relevance of sleeve design in the music download age.

Some over-riding positive factors remain however; the search for innovation and challenge, impossible deadlines, and most importantly of all – the joyous idiosyncracies of the musicians I work for and the characters who inhabit their world.

I have never felt the need to promote or encourage a particular style in graphics – only a need to communicate with musicians to find a solution which satifies my appetite for experimentation and their very real need to be represented visually in a way which complements their music and their talent. I suppose what I have always worked for is to be comfortable with compromise.

Compromise is too often a dirty word for designers and musicians alike but, by definition it’s a worthy objective. “To yield to reach agreement’, ‘to resolve difficulties’, to ‘give and take’. What better aim can there be in anything we do? There need be nothing negative about compromise – it can provide astonishing results beyond individual egos – solutions unimagined by designer or musician. Pretentious twaddle? Not on your life. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the ingrediants to create it have always been surprising, exciting and fun.

Behind the designs are numerous stories. There have always been stories. Whether they are about the Thompson Twins, Metallica, Def Leppard, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, the Geezers Of Nazereth (who? – just listen), Tori Amos, The Rolling Stones, or my current obsession – The Perils, the stories are the thing which provide insight into how the design process works.


I have reached a point where experience and the joy of how I have achieved a satisfying degree of success should be shared. It’s a strange, hilarious and entertaining  journey, but without doubt it’s an affirmation of the only thing that matters – enjoy your life, and whatever it is that provides opportunity to be creative.

Should we start at the beginning? I think so …. Remember Sector 27 …. I doubt it.