Posts Tagged ‘thompson twins’

FREE EXHIBITION – METALLICA and MORE

May 16, 2013

For those of you heading to Brighton for The Great Escape

… Visit the AIRFIX LOUNGE at BRIGHTON FRINGE
(open 10-6pm Friday17/Saturday18/Sunday19 May) …

SPACE@CREATE, New England House, York Hill, BN1 4GH. (Fringe Venue 19)

to see original Metallica artwork … LIVE SHIT, GARAGE INC, LOAD/RE-LOAD and my tribute ‘painting’.

met x 5jpg

This 6 foot wide 5-panel multi-media piece, dedicated to Cliff Burton, comprises of photos, muslin, metal wires and staples.

Other work includes …

live shit

original drawings for Scary Guy …

scary 1

Metallica logos for LOAD & RE-LOAD project …

and the 2 editions Lars Ulrich of Metallica called ‘Awesome!’

2 editions

GET ON DOWN …

Details of Exhibition at andieairfix.com

CHECK IT OUT.

Enjoy the weekend in this fantastic town

&ie

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Files, Drawers and Boxes

April 15, 2013

Well … approaching launch of AIRFIX LOUNGE very quickly.

reg blog

Firstly … Thank you all for your support in helping us with the AIRFIX LOUNGE.
It’s appreciated hugely – to make the event even bigger and more exciting. Bloggers please feel free to contribute. To see Sponsorship details and see the advantages of being A Friend of the AIRFIX LOUNGE, CLICK HERE.

For the Exhibition at the LOUNGE I’ve been looking through files, drawers and boxes and one helluva lot of original artwork. Constant surprises abound.

Coming next on the blog …
METALLICA art revealed
and details of the DEF LEPPARD and METALLICA weekends.
STAY TUNED

… but before then I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what I’m finding … and what you’ll see when you come to the Exhibition as part of BRIGHTON FRINGE …

AC/DC Pencil drawing of logo …

exploding acdc

THOMPSON TWINS triple picture disc …

twins pic discs

DEF LEPPARD Circuit drawing for ‘Hysteria’ background …

hysteria circuit

METALLICA Close-up of original logo for ‘LIVE SHIT’

met logo cu

LED ZEPPELIN Hologram test for DVD label …

zep holo 1

DEF LEPPARD award for back to back Platinum discs …

3a

MOTLEY CRUE hand-drawn logo …

12

METALLICA Award …

met live shit

LED ZEPPELIN original idea for ‘BBC Sessions’ approved by Jimmy Page …

bbc 4 detail

ROBERT PLANT original for BBC Sessions …

bbc robert

DEF LEPPARD Original illustration for ‘Hysteria’ Picture Disc …

7a

LED ZEPPELIN DVD printer’s proof of digipak

zepp dvd digi

DEF LEPPARD Original art for ‘Love Bites’

love bites art 2

And that’s just scratching the surface!

Enough Airfix – get back to your archiving. Oh my God what’s that?

MORE GEMS REAL SOON

&ie

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!

8. THOMPSON TWINS – Part One

October 22, 2009

In 1985, late at night in a hotel room after several glasses of wine, two very strong-willed women were debating whether it was possible to break into the British Broadcasting Corporation to steal the Master Tape of a television performance broadcast earlier that evening.

One of them eventually persuaded the other it might not be such a good idea to storm the BBC.  On the extremely popular ‘Wogan Show’ the nation watched  GRACE JONES perform the wonderful ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. Miss Jones believed she’d made a huge mistake in her choice of wardrobe and was determined to retrieve the tape to destroy it. In fact, watching the clip now, it’s a brilliant performance and perfectly represents how fabulously extreme she could be. Make sure you watch the ‘reveal’ at the end of the performance – she looks Amazing!

Thank God she didn’t but I often wonder what would have happened if she’d actually attempted to retrieve the tape. The mind boggles. She may have got away with it – simply by scaring to death anyone who tried to stop her. She was FIERCE!!

Her sometimes co-conspirator (and potential sister-in-crime that night) who eventually persuaded Grace not to raid the BBC, was ALANNAH CURRIE of the THOMPSON TWINS. Like Grace Jones, Alannah’s reputation for being ‘difficult’ preceded her. When I first met Alannah, to work on the TT ‘Quick Step and Sidekick’ album it was immediately obvious why she had such a reputation. She was not ‘difficult’ at all. Basically as an intelligent woman in the music industry, predominantly populated with egotistical men who yearned to be guitar heroes, she didn’t take shit from any of them. She knew what she wanted, was clear what the band needed and refused to be derailed or intimidated by patronising individuals who thought they knew better than she did. The ‘difficulty’ was the men felt threatened by someone very much in control of a career she could skillfully orchestrate better than they could. What made it worse was that Alannah didn’t give a fuck what those people thought of her – and they knew it – which only compounded their view that she was arrogant and intractable. Like she cared?

Back to Grace for a second. Today Alannah told me she ‘was hugely in awe of her – she was lifeline of female trouble in a sea of boring white males.’ Perfect.

Fortunately there was someone who appreciated Alannah’s candour and vision and was equally determined to ensure THOMPSON TWINS were successful.

As art director and promotional guru at Arista records, PETE WINKELMAN’s enthusiasm for projects was incomparable. If he had belief in an artist he gave it 100%. He recognised how huge THOMPSON TWINS could be and gave them the undivided attention they deserved. There was a problem though. Everything submitted by designers for ‘Quick Step’ had failed to impress the band. They needed a strong and unique graphic identity and nothing had come close.

Pete Winkelman called me, we had a meeting and hit it off immediately. I recognised his genuine commitment to find something the band were totally happy with at all costs. He recognised my approach to design was not restricted by formal training – therefore I was capable of finding a left-field solution to the problem. Our connection was undoubtedly enthusiasm for what we did and neither of us relied on precedents to influence our approach to a project. (It has always astonished me – and it’s happened on several occasions – when I have been given a brief to replicate a particular graphic style which has proved successful. Why would anyone want to present themselves as a clone of someone else in a market that thrives on originality?)

Anyway … Pete showed me all the photographs, taken for the album sleeve, which had been rejected by the band. There was nothing good enough and certainly little that was dynamic. I took half an hour out (always a good idea), sat in a cafe and tried to figure out what was missing – then I had an idea. I sped back to Arista and asked to see the photographs that had been rejected by the photographer. I’d realised that the photographer may have dismissed photographs for the wrong reasons. An album sleeve is not just about a photograph – it’s about a combination of elements – something I’d learnt on SECTOR 27. I did find what I was looking for in the reject pile. I could see why the picture had been rejected – the band were weirdly off-centre and Joe had been cropped in half on the left of the shot. However, it was a great picture and I could see that the addition of graphics would make it work. It also inspired the design for the logo … one which I still think suited the band perfectly.

tt logo

Creating the logo, using the same colours as the basis for the graphics and using the border so Joe’s image wasn’t falling off the edge of the sleeve, everything fell naturally into place. The quirkiness of the photo was retained and the ‘empty spaces’ of the original image were no longer empty. The end result looks effortless and balanced.

Quick Step

DESIGN OBSERVATION 2

Check out photos that have been rejected. Your criteria for what can make a photo work are different to a photographers. Alternatively – work WITH the photographer before a shoot.

to be continued ….

Essential viewing: THOMPSON TWINS

‘Love On Your Side.’ WATCH HERE

‘We Are Detective.’ WATCH HERE

‘You Take Me Up.’ WATCH HERE

Essential viewing: GRACE JONES

‘Private Life’. WATCH HERE

‘La Vie En Rose’. WATCH HERE

‘Pull Up To The Bumper’. WATCH HERE

‘Walking In The Rain’. WATCH HERE

For those of you who haven’t seen an earlier feisty and furious Grace on ‘The Russell Harty Show’ when she threw a wobbly and attacked Harty with her handbag – WATCH HERE.

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.