Posts Tagged ‘Pyromania’

AC/DC Logo Explodes

November 15, 2013

It’s that time of year again …
(sssshhhh) – 

jesus_shepherd

and so, naturally, you’re out there looking for ideal gifts to shower on your loved ones to celebrate the occasion. And can you find anything that’s cool enough. Of course you can’t – it’s all predictably dull and boring for us music fans.

Well – look no further – problem solved …

Sticking very firmly to the belief of creating …
art that DOES NOT match the sofa …
Here’s a solution for all you Rock’n’Rollers.

Click HERE to see Limited Editions

Andie Airfix Limited Editions bring something unique to Christmas. They’re cool, very affordable and ideal for music fans. Here’s a brand NEW edition.
available from November 18th 2013 …

Editions Web 1a 1000px AC-DC

Created from original pen and ink/pencil drawing of the logo for the Ballbreaker World Tour in 1995. This is pre-computer and was completely hand-drawn (very tricky to do!)

Don’t forget the recently released  ‘Ninja Star 1′ & Ninja Star 2’:  2 METALLICA editions created for the AIRFIX LOUNGE last March, editions Lars Ulrich, METALLICA’s drummer described as ‘AWESOME!‘ …

Editions Web 1b 1000px MetallicaEditions also include:
LED ZEPPELIN  DAVID BOWIE  JIMI HENDRIX
THE ROLLING STONES  THE BEATLES  MADONNA
DEF LEPPARD and LITTLE RICHARD.

CLICK HERE to see Limited Editions

Order NOW to guarantee Christmas delivery worldwide.

All Editions are printed on the highest grade, heavyweight art paper by the latest digital technology to ensure the richest colours and to maintain the finest of detail.

Problem is – and I feel obliged to inform you – that many who purchase Andie Airfix Limited Editions, somehow forget (?!) to send them on to the people they bought them for. Shocking behaviour. The solution is obvious of course – buy one for yourself too – and everyone will be happy.

More very soon …
As ever
&ie

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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 …

14. DEF LEPPARD – Part One

November 19, 2009

Well, first I have to say it’s brilliant so many DEF LEPPARD fans have checked out the blog already, even before we start. So … here we go …

Where to start – the music, the Rock’n’Roll stories, the band’s unswerving loyalty to Rick Allen, drunk with Steve Clark in Chelsea, the artwork, meeting the band in Ibiza, touring, watching ‘Spinal Tap’ with them all (hilarious), diamonds in Dublin’s Cartier, the ‘Terror Twins’? I guess I’ll just dive in and see where memories lead me … I did promise ‘diamonds in Dublin’ so I’ll definitely get there this time.

I did remember something that happened a few years ago which catapulted me dramatically back to the very early days working with the band. I can’t remember exactly when it was but I know it was the first time I’d met up with the band since an event which radically changed the political world we now live in. I met Joe first and he said, ‘It’s really weird Andie … when 9/11 happened…’ ‘I know,’ I said, ‘I thought the same as soon as I saw it.’  ‘PYROMANIA’, we both said in unison.

Iconic sleeve design by Andie Airfix

Nearly 20 years earlier, I met with Peter Mensch of Q Prime who managed DEF LEPPARD. Peter was the young protege of Cliff Burnstein, the founder of Q Prime – it was then, and still is, one of the best and most influential management companies in rock history. Peter’s brief for ‘Pyromania’ was refreshing and he was obviously excited by the challenge of the project. ‘The thing is,’ he said, ‘DEF LEPPARD are different to your average heavy rock band – the sleeve needs to reflect that. We’ve all had enough of tattoos, terrible pictures of half-naked women riding motorbikes and fire-breathing monsters – it’s all too cliched now. We need something different – more modern.’ ‘How – different?’ I said. ‘We need to go back to basics,’ he said. ‘We need to redefine the image of heavy rock.’

No challenge there then. I stumbled out onto the street in Earls Court, London – very aware of how important the project was. Not just for me (it was potentially a defining moment in my career as a designer) but, in terms of responsibility, it was an important step in the band’s rise to stardom. I realised I had to create an extraordinary image and present it in an original way. There were some things I couldn’t mess around with though; it WAS STILL ROCK’N’ROLL and with that comes important values that cannot be ignored or diluted – the anarchy, the sheer energy of the ‘in your face’ music and it’s ability to rocket emotions into overdrive. Crucially whatever I came up with had to reflect the energy of a generation rebelling against the Establishment. No matter what people say, it WAS different 25 years ago, and music, especially rock’n’roll, was one of the few mediums where you could express how fucked off you were, revelling in the company of like-minded people who defiantly held up two fingers to the status quo. Long live Rock’n’Roll.

Ok, a short diversion here (you should be used to them by now) but it’s relevant. I was in Washington in 1971, (yes I am that old) and I was there to add my voice to the millions who were objecting to the war in Vietnam. Think of the million who gathered in London demonstrating against an illegal and mis-judged war in Iraq – but on a much bigger scale. A state of seige existing in the Capital and the Nixon administration were so threatened they brought in 10,000 Federal troops, 4,000 paratroopers were on ‘War Alert’ at an airforce base 15 miles outside Washington, 5,000 DC police were deployed and 2,000 National Guard patrolled the streets. Government tactics involved low-level helicopter sweeps over the crowds (terrifying), the use of tear gas, actual combat assaults on those surrounding the Washington monument, and thousands of troops controlled all roads in and out of the city. The largest mass arrest in US history was the apprehension of 12,000 protesters, most of whom were detained in a football stadium without food or water. Luckily I managed to avoid arrest and attended the massive protest concert which brought the demonstration to an end. Music, once again was a common language which brought focus to the event, uniting disparate groups of people in a common cause. It was an exhilerating experience and a defining moment in US history. It was not the only factor in Nixon’s decision to bring home the troops from Vietnam, but it sure as hell woke up America to the to the error of participating in a war that couldn’t be won.

PYROMANIA’. So there I was sitting in Battersea Park, London, watching ducks laugh (they so do don’t they?) thinking ‘What would really freak people out as an image?’ Inspired by the title, and stretching the concept to its extreme, I tried to envisage what would constitute an attack on our materialistic world that would be totally unacceptable. An attack on a skyscraper was what I came up with. The ‘sight’, aimed at the building, emphasised the attack was a deliberate action. I’ll get to the details of design later but the point here is to give some background to the concept behind the sleeve design. It’s weird looking at the cover now, in the context of 9/11, but even without that context it remains a powerful image that is both subversive and terrifyingly aggressive.

On a lighter note. The ‘Terrible Twins. Dublin. Diamonds. Steve and Phil were legless in Dublin and they decided it would be fun to head for Cartier and spend some money. Cartier were not prepared for the 2 lunatics, off their heads, who tumbled into their precious, expensive environment, flaunting a fistful of credit cards. It must have really pissed them off to have to politely deal with the dangerously unknown quantity lurching around the shop. They started to buy stuff and the assistant they were dealing with was smugly confident that at some point the credit cards would explode. I can’t remember whether it was Phil or Steve, but one of them asked the hapless individual, ‘Where are the fuckin’ diamonds? We want big diamonds.’ At this point the assistant thought his time had come, but as each sale was processed the card delivered a resounding confirmation of the sale. The boys decided to push the limits, but as the diamonds got bigger, and prices became astronomical, each sale was processed. With their bags of goodies, the Boys left the shop and headed home.

If the assistant’s world was thrown into chaos and insanity he couldn’t deal with that day, he must have thought at least the shop had made a fortune. Not to be I’m afraid. Realising the next day that their impromptu extravagant spending spree had made them the beneficiaries of  ‘fuckin’ rubbish we don’t want’, Steve and Phil went back to Cartier and told the assistant exactly that and dumped their treasure trove on the counter, denying the poor bastard the only consolation he had for the ordeal he’d suffered the previous day. The small fortune they had given Cartier was retrieved and the Twins sauntered out of the shop. Pure genius. Pure Rock’n’Roll.

I think that’s probably enough for this time. Next week I’ll explore the ‘Hysteria’ phenomena, my times with Steve in Chelsea and the stratospheric rise to fame of one of the most successful bands in the world. I may throw a few random short blogs into the mix in the meantime.

Watch this space.

Def Leppard

November 16, 2009

NEXT … 14. DEF LEPPARD – Part One

I hope you all watched ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me‘ at the end of  Blog 12. The Blog now hits the Rock’n’Roll Rollercoaster big time with DEF LEPPARD. Designing, amongst others, the ‘Pyromania‘ and ‘Hysteria‘ albums, I spent a lot of time with the band over several years in many different countries – experiencing first-hand the incredible highs and tragic events which shaped one of the most successful bands in the world. There are stories which reflect on both, some hilarious rock’n’roll moments and insights into designing the artwork for the ‘Hysteria’ sleeve. (an album which sold over 20,000,000 copies worldwide)

– it took over a year!