Posts Tagged ‘graphic design’

36. METALLICA Part ‘ONE’ – ‘Fans’

November 18, 2010

Well, we may as well go straight in with this … not for the faint-hearted …

In 1993 I completed my first major project – a Box Set – for the legend that is METALLICA.

There’s a satisfying coincidence that I’ve just finished another Box Set for them as I begin a series of blogs about arguably the most successful rock band on the planet.

The stories over the next few weeks have never been published so be prepared for fun, insights and a very personal account of events spanning nearly twenty years.

Where do I begin? My admiration and respect for the band is constantly renewed by their adventurous, often anarchic, attitude to who they are and what they do. At the heart of my respect for them is their unswerving loyalty and dedication to their Fans – so let’s start with Victor

Victor was seventeen and worked on reception at the gym I infrequented in Chelsea Harbour. Mostly I used it as a hi-tech bathroom/sauna/swimming pool conveniently situated between my Chelsea flat and the studio. I often chatted to Victor – a serious Metallica fan – and when he discovered I was involved in their artwork and knew the band personally, he hinted every now and again that maybe if I had a spare ticket to a gig …

I’ve been amazingly privileged over the years to be given tickets to major events and concerts and one thing I have always done when I go to one – is to find random fans to take along and maybe provide an opportunity for them to meet their heroes and heroines. Metallica were playing Wembley Arena in London and I asked Victor to join us for the gig. In those days it made economic and practical sense – if there were 8 or 10 of us – to hire a stretch limo. The car was allowed to drop its occupants right outside the ticket collection office and to pick us up immediately after the gig right outside the main entrance into the venue – avoiding what is often a nightmare journey to and from the Arena which was such a bummer, especially after a night out at a brilliant concert and your spirit was elated. (Also of course we could get wasted on the way there and back!). I’d asked Victor to meet us in Chelsea to head off to the gig and his face when he saw the white stretch Cadillac waiting for him was an indication of how overwhelmed he would be later as the evening developed.

We arrived, tumbled out of the limo, collected our tickets and our ‘Go Anywhere You Fucking Want‘ passes …

A couple of us headed straight for the band’s dressing room with Victor. He was already nervous and his mood rapidly alternated between that of a soldier about to meet his generals after a victorious battle and that of a shy 17-year old terrified he would make a fool of himself in front of his heroes. We met Gio – more of him later –  and he escorted us to the dressing room through the labyrinthine corridors beneath the Arena. I knocked on the door. ‘In,’ shouted James Hetfield. Victor froze, his right hand glued to the dressing room door-frame, his feet establishing roots into the concrete floor. Eventually we managed to drag the ashen-faced, open-mouthed, wide-eyed Victor into the room. The band were having their pre-gig dinner. Lars jumped up. ‘Andie, Ricky – great to see you guys. Hey – who’s this?

And that’s the thing …

… Bands and artists of quality recognise how important fans are – you’d be amazed how many don’t – and Metallica are particularly brilliant at diffusing any embarrassment or awkwardness fans feel when they meet the band. I introduced Lars to Victor. Lars was in fine form. ‘Hey VIctor – how ya doin’? Cool jacket man – want us to sign it?‘ Victor’s mouth opened and closed several times but words refused to vocalise and his head moved around in a weird circular movement which kind of looked like he was nodding and shaking his head at the same time. ‘James,‘ Lars shouted, ‘grab that thick marker pen and we can all sign Victor’s jacket.

The jacket in question was a silver bomber-jacket. It looked brand new and I remember thinking at that point that maybe Victor had bought it specially for the gig. The band gathered round him for the Signing Ceremony. A flurry of flambuoyant marker strokes later and a storm of graffitti, autographs and dedications covered the entire back of the jacket. Victor of course couldn’t see what Lars, James, Kirk and Jason had done. We chatted for a while, left the band to their dinner and headed off to the Arena and our seats. Still not a word had escaped Victor’s lips and he was looking worryingly pale. ‘Look at your jacket,‘ I said. ‘It’s brilliant.‘ Victor stopped, closed his eyes, took off the jacket and opened them again. He stood there – motionless – just staring at it. Finally he managed to get words to connect both to his brain and his mouth at the same time. The reason for his endearing but acutely strange behaviour was suddenly clear. It wasn’t only Metallica that had caused him to be so excrutiatingly shy and freaked out in the dressing room – there was something completely different to add to his alarm and agitation …  ‘It’s my older brother’s best jacket,‘ he croaked. ‘He doesn’t know I’ve borrowed it! He’s going to kill me. He’ll fuckin’ kill me.

Victor was, thankfully, still alive when I headed to the gym a couple of days after the gig. His brother had burst out laughing when Victor confessed to his hideous crime, enjoying every second of his younger brothers’ deep embarrassment, fear and trepidation. He gave him the jacket obviously. However, when Victor showed his MetalliMates his well-earned prize-jacket, not one of them believed the signatures were real – let alone spontaneously produced for him personally in the band’s dressing room before a gig.

If, by any chance, any of you see a guy wearing a silver bomber-jacket with all the band’s signatures on it, ask him if his name’s Victor. If it is just tell him you know how the jacket was signed and where. It’ll probably blow his head off.

METALLICA blogs will become pretty random over the next few weeks as I’m off to India. Be prepared for the odd Indian experience to infiltrate the METALLICA EXPERIENCE!

.. and in case you thought established bands went out on the road just to regurgitate tired old hits from the past … not this ONE. Check it out. Here’s a track from S&M, performed in 1999, ten years after the song’s original release (featured as their first ever video at the beginning of this blog). THAT’S why METALLICA are brilliant – hardly the same is it? – but without losing the songs sentiment and power in any way.

STAY TUNED … &ie

COMING UP IN METALLICA BLOGS …

… a competition to win an original piece of METALLICA artwork … Berlin … Lollapalooza and Lemmy … dinner with Lars and Marianne Faithful … a trip round Barcelona … mothers and fathers … the Viper Room … Some Kinda Monster … Anton Corbjin … and creating artwork for LOAD, RE-LOAD, GARAGE INC, S&M and much more.

Don’t forget to enter the COMPETITION below to WIN a HENDRIX EDITION PRINT

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19. THE COMPETITION WINNERS

February 5, 2010

So … we gathered on Wednesday to find the three ‘FAN’TASTICO’S who win the competition. The screaming crowds were kept at bay outside the pub and those inside cheered constantly as the four of us read the 24 final round winners. The judges ….


… scored each story with a maximum of 10 points each – and after a couple of hours we handed our score sheets to our Independant Adjudicator and our Competition Director who added up the scores to find the overall winners. The atmosphere was electric as the Adjudicator handed us the envelope containing the 3 winners. The crowds outside were suddenly silent, faces pressed against the windows in anticipation. In the pub people strained forward, holding their breath …

I stood up. ‘And the winner is …’

(I kept them hanging on for nearly an hour)

The winner is …. KIM!’  

Thunderous applause and the crowd outside went wild.
KIM KIM KIM’ they chanted.

So here’s Kim’s story. Her unswerving dedication, loyalty over such a long time and her love of music impressed us all. So did her writing. Congratulations!

Please note – One or two typos have been corrected but all entries are published exactly as they were written.
 

KIM – FIRST PRIZE (36 points)

My hobby started almost 30 years ago. I say hobby because that’s what it has been for me. I have been very lucky to have seen every tour that Def Leppard has done in the U.S., most I have seen numerous times. As a short story I have to tell you about the Hysteria tour. What a show—I had read that when the stadium almost cleared at the end of the show, the guys would come out from under the stage. As the stadium started to clear, the ushers were trying to get me to leave and I just kept pleading that as soon as they came out I would leave. At the time, Joe was the favorite and as soon as I saw him I just yelled his name and he looked up with that gorgeous grin of his and waved. I will never forget that moment and how I felt, I sit down in the seat and cryed with joy.

Well now, I was really hooked. My collection of anything Def Leppard had begun. It was also at this time that one concert was just not enough, so I would see them as many times as I could in surrounding states. That still wasn’t enough at times. NO I’m not crazy or a stalker but they just have IT. IT just makes you feel great, IT is something that I have yet to understand myself. I just knew that I needed more of IT!!! So the story begins during the SLANG tour. Over the phone with friends that I had made, we made plans to see DL
Sorry, I’m tired and hit the wrong button. As I was saying, we made plans to see them as many times as we could. The first leg of my tour began in Cleveland, Ohio where I met all my friends I had made just because of DL. I had opted out of my beach vacation to travel north and follow the guys for the opportunity to meet them. SSoooooooo well worth every penny. I had most of my tickets in hand for the concerts which I payed a pretty penny for. I was in the first, second and third rows to every show–and in Cleveland is where my long wait to meet them finally came true. We were staying in the same hotel as the guys and we knew that they would go to the bar in the hotel after the show. It was so crowded and I was so nervous. Moving through the small bar I start getting extremely nervous—WHAT DO I SAY? DON’T ACT STUPID! LET THEM KNOW HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU!! All going through my head. I got very close to Joe, but I just couldn’t make myself get closer. He moves to the bar and sits down, he’s talking to someone and I see three seats open up across from him. I grabbed the two closest friends I had made and we sat for a while across the way. Yes, I was listening to him talk and NO I wasn’t easedropping. Well I guess I was, but I couldn’t tell you what it was about, I just wanted to hear his voice. Of course I had to have a drink I wasn’t going to be able to approach him if I didn’t. So I sit, had a Crown and Coke and listened to him just talk. I had my nerve and knew that when he made a move I was going to be there. And he did and I did, he hugged me and was so gracious to me and we took a picture and I didn’t make a fool of myself. There, what more could I ask for? I felt very blessed because I had seen him earlier get really hateful with someone and it scared my away. Later, I learned he had perfect right to say and do what he did.
As we were leaving the bar , Phil and his then girlfriend Anita were coming in the door. What was so ironic was that Anita had come down during the show and danced with us during the song SLANG. During the show we had no idea who she was. She acknowledged us as she approached us telling Phil she had danced with us at the show. We took pictures and talked for a while. She found out we were going to several other shows and promised to find us because she always came out in the crowd during the SLANG song. And she did! What a nice person and beautiful at that.
After that night, I knew that hands down Phil had to be the nicest guy ever. We traveled through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and back to Ohio during that trip and I had so many more wonderful memories of the guys and the shows. We were on a first name basis speaking to one another in the hotels, whether we were on the elevator coming or going from the hotel or even in the hallway. It was magical for me because I loved their music so much and had followed their career since the beginning–On Through The Night beginning. In Indianapolis, Joe turned and pointed right at me and sang to me. That was one of the shows that I had front row seats. In Cinncinatti we spent a couple days in the same hotel while they were off a day and that’s when I finally got to meet Rick Allen. What an inspiration he is and he was so nice to acknowledge that he had seen us at the last few shows and asked how we were enjoying them. Amazing!!! Right!!!
It wasn’t over! My friends and I decided after we went home that we just had to go the weekend to the Dallas, Austin and Houston shows. And yes we were there. We fly into Dallas and see Def Leppard that night. Then we rent a car and drive to Austin and stay in the same hotel as them again. I remember walking through the sitting area as we had checked into our room and came down for a walk–someone calling out my name and thinking to myself, WHO KNOWS ME HERE? I’m from Tennessee. I turn and see Phil who was sitting in a chair reading a book. It had been about a month since the trip north and HE REMEMBERED MY NAME!!!!!! We chated and he was amazed we were seeing them the three nights they were in Texas. He said, ” You guys must be superfans!” and laughed. At most of the shows we went to, we were usually in front of Phil who is great about acknowledging you in the crowd and this trip was no different. I got to talk more to Sav and Joe during this trip. Also during this trip I got a 3 ft by 3 ft poster signed by all of them. They had never seen the poster before and thought is was cool. It was the eye from the Adenalize album and it was made out of a hard plastic.
It still wasn’t over for us because they hadn’t been to my state yet and that was even more than I could hope for. A week or so later we traveled to Atlanta, GA to see them. As we were driving in the city trying to find the box office to get tickets we heard on the radio that if you had the most tickets to different shows during this tour you would win front row seats. We ( my same 2 side kicks that I had shared all this with ) looked at each other and for no reason we could think of still had all our ticket stubbs in our purses and wallets. They had been to a few that I hadn’t went to and I had went to a few that they hadn’t went to. We counted and lucky number 13 popped up. We won front row that night and couldn’t believe we had brought them with us. Like what can you do with used concert tickets??????? WIN FRONT ROW SEATS I SAY!!! We still had my town Nashville, TN. It would be the last one, we all knew it. We had a great ride, an unforgetable journey so what more could happen? Well I’ll tell you——I ONLY TOOK PHIL AND ANITA ….IN MY CAR……TO A BAGLE SHOP THE MORNING AFTER THE NASHVILLE SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!Yes I had Phil Collen in the front seat of my Trans Am. I took a picture of them at the back of my car because my license plate said Def Leppard. I’ll not give out the exact letters but Phil knew what it said. So I have to say I feel very blessed to have these and even more memories since then. Not many people get to meet who they idolize and I feel very lucky. I also have had a child since those days and she has become a fan herself. I always joked to my family that if anything ever happened to me, not to sale my Def Leppard memorbillia in a yard sale. I have some nice pieces and some that are worth a little money. I know I have invested a lot of money in it. Now, I have my daughter and I know she will take care of it and it will live on. She is a fan herself and has a few memories with Phil. He remembered me on the next tour. About 4 years later I took my daughter to see them and he was like WOW you have a child this time. She hasn’t actually met them yet but Phil signed her guitar during the Sparkle Lounge tour from the stage and Joe pointed and sang to her. I can say, “I know how she feels!” And I feel like her day will come when she does meet them. She loves the stories I tell her and loves looking at my pictures and she tells all her friends that her mom has met Def Leppard. I think it was pretty cool and I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I loved living it!!!!!!!!
The second prize goes to Vicki. Once again – sheer dedication and a mission that took years to acheive has to be applauded. Brilliant – and the tattoos are testament to your unbelievable tenacity.

Vicki Brown – SECOND PRIZE (33 points)

“FAN”alized

 1983 was the year that changed my life forever…

I heard my first Def Leppard song “Photograph”, I  was 14 and I was hooked. I had become a diehard fan virtually overnight.. As a young teen I fantasized about meeting my heros and as the years passed that turned into a lifelong dream. And just like any other fan , I wanted autograph’s!

As I got older my collection of memorabilia grew! I had to have everything!!  Oh,  did I mention that I also became a fan of tattoos? So it just seemed natural that I would get a Def Leppard tat….okay maybe two.
On my upper arm is the “Hysteria” album cover and on my upper leg is the “Adrenalize” eyeball. On completion of the Adrenalize tattoo, it hit me then…..I wanted that autographed!!!
 
Fast forwarding a few years….It wasn’t until  2001, that I won a radio contest on Q107 (Toronto Ontario Canada) I was lucky enough to enjoy an acoustic performance by Joe and Phil promoting there new album X, along with 100 other lucky winners. At the end of the night my friend Joanne pushed me to the stage, where I was able to shake Joe’s hand and asked him to sign my tattoo. Not be able to talk to Phil I started to cry. I must have been a real mess, because Malvin told me to hold on, he will come back and get me. True to his word I find myself in the basement of the club, being hugged by Phil. Awesome sums it up! I left that night th happiest girl on earth, tons of pictures of Joe, Phil and me and two signatures added to my tattoo…three more to get.
 
2003 on a trip to England for a Leppard show in Bristol. After the show I met up with Malvin and thanked him for everything he had done for me two years ago. Then I added his autograph to my  growing collection.
 
Pushing ahead two more years, 2005 in London, Ontario, Canada. Following the show my friend, daughter and I decided to hang around the buses with about 50 other fans.
Vivian came out first and he was more then happy to sign my leg. Moments later Joe was making his way through the fans signing autographs and taking pictures. It was my turn…I  asked Joe if he could help me out, I only  needed 2 more signatures. He was shocked I actually had them tattoo’d on and blown away that I got Malvin’s too. Thinking for a moment, Joe said I will see what I can do.
Waiting for what seemed like an eternity, in reality it was mere moments I find myself being wisked through the crowd headed to a tour bus. Sav signed my leg and I was able to speak with him about a book on Def Leppard I wrote, (a radio dj gave it to him for me early that day) Sav said it was pretty cool.
Off to my next bus…I got to meet up with Rick.  Tears in my eyes and thinking I wouldn’t be able to hold it together much longer, Rick joked with me because I couldn’t stop crying. But he was happy to finish up my piece of art with a one armed drummer stickman. With an overwhelming feeling of excitement and joy, Joe walked me back towards the crowd, as I thanked him for making my lifelong dream come true!!!
 
Leppardized aka Vicki Brown

And finally – Lee, whose sheer audacity (and a great story) made his entry one of the most entertaining. What was her answer Lee?

Lee Houghton – THIRD PRIZE (31 points)

Hi Andie! Great Blog! My story goes back to 2003 and the X Tour (second leg). Having been round the country with my then girlfriend, Angela, watching the guys in concert, she could not make it to the gig in Nottingham. As ever, the gig was excellent and after the show, I waited outside, along with some fellow hardcore fans. All the guys came out, chatted, signed stuff and were their usual polite, cheerful selves! As my girlfriend could not make it, and as she was back at home, I seized an opportunity and asked Viv if he wouldn’t mind speaking to Angela on my mobile.I told him she had to be in work early and was back home, in bed, but would be thrilled if he could say a quick hello. With a twinkle in his eye, he said “sure” and I dutifully passed the phone over. The following conversation then took place:

Viv – “Hello Angela, how come you are not at the gig?”. Angela replied, explained she needed to be in work early the following day.
Viv – “Oh really, that’s a pity…. Did you say you were in bed? Are you masturbating?”.
At this point, all I could hear is some giggling on the end of the phone, Viv hands the phone back after saying goodbye, with a wink. Yours truly is left blushing beetroot red. I gingerly spoke into the handset…
Hey Babe, that was nice of Viv…Err, you aren’t masturbating, are you????” 
A true story!!

Later …. MORE great stories we all loved. Every one a winner.

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.

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 …

9. THOMPSON TWINS – Part Two

October 29, 2009

Working in the music industry in the 80’s guaranteed strange and surreal experiences time and time again. One of the first with the THOMPSON TWINS was visiting their squat in south London for a party. We arrived and there were a dozen fans camped in the garden, trying to catch a glimpse of their newly-acquired idols. There were no curtains on the windows and I remember being advised to crawl on the floor underneath windows to avoid being spotted by the youthful, exhuberant poparazzi outside. Inside – as the party got more and more out of hand – everyone forgot to duck under the windows and the evening was puncuated constantly by loud cheers from the enthusiastic encampment. What made it funnier was that Alannah had insisted we all raid her dressing room to find fancy dress. I don’t suppose the fans ever knew whether they’d seen Tom, Joe and Alannah or not – unable to distinguish them from the endless stream of weirdos strutting, stumbling and lurching across the brightly lit windows wearing pompadour wigs, masks, hats and strange outfits. They cheered enthusiastically anyway whoever and whatever they saw. Bless.

The period working for TT was an extremely creative one in the music industry. Vinyl was still the predominant format (although CD’s were beginning to appear) and 7 & 12 inch singles were a crucial ‘tool’ to promote albums. Pete Winkelman at Arista  recognised the value of collectible limited edition singles and both of us loved the Picture Disc format. The No 1 album –‘Into The Gap’ – was released in 1984 and I came up with a design for a single release that Pete loved. He wasn’t convinced it would work but I’d done my homework and talked to the manufacturers.

Again, I can’t stress how important it is to communicate with manufacturers and suppliers. Including them in the design process often inspires them to stretch the production process to its limits – often finding solutions a designer would never think of and also offer new processes which could be used for future projects. Also great ideas in design isolation often don’t translate in practical terms. Better to get constructive advice than piss people off with prima donna demands! In order to avoid disappointment at the final result – pre-empt possible problems. (Back to Christopher Hunter again – ‘… always imagine what could go wrong. It usually does – so prepare …’)

‘Take Me Up’ was the single from ‘Into The Gap’ and my idea was to create 3 picture discs which ‘jigsawed’ together.  Maps and map symbols were the theme for the album and as soon as I realised a world map neatly fitted into the right proportions required to produce the 3 interlocking discs the design process began …

blog tt 3 disc

I’ve had the three discs framed (coming up for auction in December at Bonham’s) and most people don’t believe, until close inspection, that they are PLAYABLE 12 inch vinyl discs.

It’s also important to note here that although the logo was essentially the same as ‘Sidekick’ the 3 colours were changed for ‘Into The Gap’ and there were new configurations of the different elements. Ideally logos should be open to development – especially with bands who are constantly developing musically. It also helps distinguish between different projects …

4 twins

Then came ‘Here’s To Future Days’. I  still love the cover photo for this – the child is very disturbing – and once again the logo was adapted. It had to be more low-key‘ so it didn’t detract from the photo by Rebecca Blake.

Future days

Excuse me.’ said the aggressive customs officer at Heathrow. ‘What’s in your bag?’

I took a deep breath, knowing my answer was guaranteed to make him think I was taking the piss bigtime. ‘ A crown, a sceptre, and a large stuffed fish.’ I said, deadpan. He stiffened. ‘Empty it,’ he said, barely containing his anger.
I emptied the contents of the bag onto the table – a crown, a sceptre, and a large stuffed fish. It was one of those glorious moments when I thought ‘I love my job,’ and I smiled like a demented conjurer who’d performed a trick to wind him up. The guy, already prepared for a serious confrontation, literally froze. His brain refused to engage with what his eyes were telling him. He looked at me then at the table and then back at me. His eyes and brain still hadn’t connected. ‘YOU!’ he shouted, the volume of his voice taking him by surprise, ‘Yes, you Madam – I want you to empty your bag. NOW.’ The poor woman behind me, the object of the guy’s frustration, was clearly shocked by his aggression but put her bag down next to mine. That was it. He utterly blanked me. I collected my stuff and rejoined the photographic crew I’d travelled with back from a photo-shoot with the THOMPSON TWINS in Paris. Happy Days.

There will have to be more Twins stories but for now we move on.

My partner Michael decided in 82 to pursue his passion for painting. At first I was nervous of going it alone but friends insisted it was just what I needed. They were right and the transition was fairly seamless. It is obvious, I know, but I was given the opportunity to develop an individual approach as a person and a designer.

I met Peter Mensch who fronted one of the biggest management companies in the US – Q Prime.  Whilst working on artwork for DEF LEPPARD (SEVERAL chapters on them soon)  I was asked to work with another band who could not have been more different. It was 1985 and the comparatively new ‘disco scene’ was creating more nightclubs than had ever been seen in London. It’s hard to imagine but there were very few large dance venues before then. I went to a live gig which was being recorded for radio. I’d heard DEAD OR ALIVE but I wasn’t prepared for the powerful vocals and hi-energy performance of the charismatic lead singer who challenged every definition of masculinity. I’d been invited to work with PETE BURNS and couldn’t wait to meet him.

WHAT a voice!

7. TOM ROBINSON and SECTOR 27

October 14, 2009

Before we get to SECTOR 27, I must start by thanking those who ‘commented’ on the last Blog – especially ‘the man himself’, Tony Tobias …

‘This is getting to be a vital link to the past of ‘The Worlds End’ I was privileged to play a small part, having owned two Noseagents. Customers, friends really, were from all walks of life, Barry Sheen, The Rolling Stones, dear wonderful Freddie Mercury, who used to stand in the shop in full drag, Adam Ant, Marianne Faithful, The Sex Pistols, Georgie Fame, David Bowie, and many other wonderful people, and the great woman newspaper scribe, Sue ‘the floating tenner’ Carrol, were frequent visitors. How I loved all you guys, and everyone else, I am what I am because of all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to rediscover the past.” Love, Tony.

(The Cat, by the way, was The Professor, so-called because distinctive marks around his eyes looked like a pair of glasses. His name perfectly encaptures the Beast’s deranged and fierce(!) intelligence.)

Like Tony, I believe The World’s End Community was (and still is) something very special. As our Course moves into the 80’s, the 90’s and beyond, it always plays a pivotal role in my life and work. We will return to it many times I’m sure, (including how LARS ULRICH of METALLICA managed to devastate the Australian staff who worked at THE CHELSEA RAM), but now we are heading into Graphic Design for the music industry …

Back in the early 80’s it was a fascinating and exciting world to be involved in – not just with the artists and musicians but with record companies, promoters and merchandisers willing to take creative (and financial) risks to promote original and eccentric design ideas. One in particular, Pete Winkelman – then art director and promotional genius at Arista Records, now chairman of MK DONS – was wonderfully supportive of some pretty crazy ideas. More of him later when we reach THOMPSON TWINS and the fabulous FUZZBOX.

SECTOR 27
NEW Sector-27

As I said it was Tim who introduced me to Tom Robinson. Although I’d had a little experience in sleeve design, Tom was the first commercially successful artist to hire SATORI to create an album sleeve for his new band – SECTOR 27. It’s quite odd looking back at the sleeve now but it’s one I’m still proud of and, in many ways, the brief for it is still relevant today. It was 1980 and the terrifying world of BIG BROTHER in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ loomed large. Tom was a politically-motivated musician – ‘Glad To Be Gay’ was hugely influential when it was released.

He was a committed anti-racist and gay activist with a fierce intelligence. Meeting him for the first time I remember his earnest charm was totally sincere. There was also an endearing contradiction in his character which was very appealing. The rage of his concerns was balanced with a genuine need to please. I believe his success as a communicator and commentator was partly because of that apparent dichotomy. His fragility combined with his serious commitment to revealing injustice in the world made him convincing and believable. As a musician the same applied. Beneath his clean, sharp image and brilliant songs was a ‘disorientating tension’ which took you by surprise. I liked Tom very much and he taught me a great deal about social awareness and politics in general. What I learnt from him was how to present well-informed arguments which were never patronising or self-righteous.

Tom was acutely aware of the growing surveillance culture in Britain and he wanted the album sleeve to be a defiant, positive statement – one which celebrated the triumph of Innocence and Exhileration over the Grey and Faceless which threatened to undermine and sabotage it. In words it sounds somewhat heavy-handed but the final sleeve portrayed something more intuitive.

The sleeve design can be split into three distinct areas; the graphics, implying harsh corporate control; the photograph portraying an anonymous bleak cityscape and the happy innocent child who defies the impersonal environment she inhabits.

For those of you not interested in the graphic process you can skip the next paragraph …

1980 was Pre-Computer obviously so each of the three elements had to be created separately. The starting point was the SECTOR 27 logo and it’s dynamic shape and positioning. After that the other elements were roughly sketched into position. On our way to BLITZ one morning I photographed the buildings as we emerged from the underpass in Holborn, deliberately shaking the camera. The chosen image was blown up to a 20×16 print and the graphic version of the underpass exit was drawn with Rotring pens (remember those anyone?). We hired a photographer and studio to photograph the Chinese girl and proceeded to ‘treat’ the image to give it movement and vibrancy. Colour Xerox was something I was experimenting with at the time and I’d found a wonderful shop where the owners encouraged artists and designers to experiment with their colour Xerox machines by allowing them on a Saturday morning to hire a machine by the hour rather than paying for each print. This meant that experimenting was not prohibitively expensive. It was amazing how many prints you could do in an hour if you were organised! Fooling the Xerox machine was the challenge – to get it to produce effects it was not designed for. Manipulating images then was the remit of photographic re-touchers. It tended to be a time-consuming and expensive process. To print an image on acetate and tracing paper, to run an image through the Xerox machine several times, to change images as the machine scanned the four process colours produced some astonishing ‘accidental’ results. I exhibited a series of ‘paintings’ constructed using the results of those revelatory Saturday mornings.
timewallTimewall‘ by Andie Airfix, 1980

DESIGN OBSERVATION 1: Get Your Hands Dirty.
Don’t rely only on computer programs alone to create interesting imagery. However ‘clever’ Photoshop and however expertly it’s used it will always be 2-dimensional – however seductively it attempts to convince you otherwise.

Finally ….. more Tom Robinson …

NEXT  … THOMPSON TWINS and THE ENTHUSIASTIC GURU

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.