It’s a Good Life…

Last week I had the honor and privilege of seeing The Tragically Hip live in the UK. I managed to make it to two shows, one in London and one in Manchester. Throughout their nine month 2009 tour across Canada, America and Europe they have been playing what are known as ‘Evening with…’ style shows, which consist of two sets, and around two and a half hours of fantastic live music! I was fortunate enough to see them in San Francisco earlier in the year when they performed an extended show, and I was worried that they might have ditched this format when they returned to the UK. Luckily that wasn’t the case – and what’s more they seemed to be on fire! Gord Downie especially was at his theatrical best with lots of trademark mimes, dance moves and rants being pulled out of the bag. It was a true site to behold!

I recorded both nights, and recently released them for fans to download on The Hip Tracker. Both shows came out really well which I’m happy with. I’ve also designed some accompanying artwork to go with them. I wanted something in keeping with what I designed for the SF show, but still different. I was pleased with what I produced, especially as it seems to sit quite nicely with the artwork from the latest album which they’ve been promoting – We Are The Same:

One of the highlights from the shows was the duet that the band did with special guest Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics. It was a real shock, and something pretty special to witness. Kelly joined them on stage at the Forum to do a version of the really beautiful track Fiddler’s Green. There were sadly no special guests in Manchester, but possibly this superb version of the classic track At The Hundredth Meridian with Gord ranting away made up for it. I’ve been pretty much listening to them non stop since, and I really can’t wait until the next round of live shows – Whenever that may be…

Repeat (Stars & Stripes)…

While we were away following the Manics in America, I was (naturally) on taping duty. We went to three shows in total (including an instore appearance that James did at Newbury Comics in Boston. I spent the week or so after I was back editing the recordings, sifting through photos and making artwork. I kind of had something in mind, artwork wise, of what I wanted to do for these recordings. I wanted to use tints of one colour for each show. I kept a lot of my trademark elements in the images but tried to go in a slightly different direction and push my use of type a bit further than normal. Here are the results…

I turned them round pretty quickly and I’m really pleased with what I produced. Huge thanks to my mate As who supplied me with the quality photos of James to work with which made my life a hell of a lot easier.

The recordings sound really great too, especially the songs from the new album! Here’s Peeled Apples from the show at Webster Hall in New York. Good times!

The devil wears PrAna…

Here’s another piece of recent(ish) artwork. This was (and possible still will be) part of a set of posters advertising PrAna. I really love PrAna clothes, as well as their design and branding. Marvelous stuff! I wanted to design something which could still fit in with the same sort of feel of what they have already, i.e. the organic, natural looking style, but with my own style too it as well. The poster(s) were going to feature a different PrAna sponsored climber on each one – the obvious first choice being Mr. Sharma. So, I started doing some sketches of the man himself, and worked one of them into the poster. Like so…

I was working on this around the same time as I discovered the Poladroid software, so I decided to use Poladroid some shots of Sharma on the posters as well. I think they’re a nice addition and something a bit different. I also went back to basics, and put the leaves which clog up our front door to good use! There’s lots of nice (I would say “shiny” but well, y’know…) leaf textures in my library now! I dare say they’ll be cropping up more in the future – I really like them. The rest of the background of the poster came together pretty quickly really. It was another one of those pieces where all the elements just seemed to fit together without too much effort. It’s times like that when the whole thing is a real joy! I added some text and the logo (which I had to recreate with Adobe Illustrator as I could only find low res versions of it online) in InDesign and then it was all sorted. Another piece for the portfolio. Hurrah!


Recently on Twitter, a friend of mine called Tracey (aka MissOceania) retweeted a message creative website/bloggy type thing called Creative Boom. They were putting a call out to designers to produce a banner for their site. There was no real brief other than that. They sent me their logo which needed to be included, and I spent one night last weekend sat in front of highlights from the Reading festival, putting together a banner. It went well, and it’s now live on the site:!

…and here’s the banner in all it’s glory:

It’s nice to have turned something around so quickly and to see it up live is even better! They’ve also featured me in their LookBook feature which is great as well! There’s nothing like some free advertising, eh? Katy who runs the site seemed to really like it, and has asked me to have more design input to the site which is pretty exciting (and equally nerve wracking) for me. I’ll keep you posted. Until then, check out Creative Boom – There’s some really interesting articles and work on there!

Mud & Gears

A week or so ago, I was approached by a contact I’d made through Twitter called Col. Col runs a rather nice Mountain Biking based website called Mud and Gears, and he asked me if I’d design a web banner for his website. He said he really liked my work (a good start) and said that he wanted something with a torn paper look, similar to the banner currently sitting above this very post. He wanted something which he could work into a blog template, and a few days later he came back with some dimensions for me. Straight away we seemed to be reading of the same page (or blog, if you like) thinking along the lines of using bike parts, and fairly grungy (almost muddy you could say) look. I think you can see where I’m going with this. Anyway, I jumped at the chance, and get started straight away. I’d say it took me about a day (on and off) to complete the banner, which looks like this:

As usual, I had a rough idea in my mind of what I wanted, and I knew the first step was acquiring some images of bike parts. As luck would have it, chained up outside the Tube station later that afternoon was bike which had all the necessary parts, so I snapped a few close ups (whilst simultaneously getting strange looks from passers by). I liked the close ups from the rear mechs the best, as they seemed to be a bit clearer as to what they actually where, once taken out of context, so that formed the basis of the banner. I chose a few nice, muddy colours and then raided my ever growing texture library and get to work putting the rest of the image together. The cog shapes were a bit trickier, and I had to find a tutorial online to help me create them in Adobe Illustrator. After a few experiments, I finally got them looking how I wanted them. After that it came together pretty quickly, and once I’d found suitable, distressed fonts to go with it, it was sorted. Col seemed very happy with it, which is good! So, anyway, check out his site (where the banner is now live).

I’ve been pretty busy of late (I’m trying to do an image/project a week to keep myself creative), so I’ll have some other stuff to post soon.

Happy days!

This weekend just gone, Snoo and I attended a little soiree in Wolverhampton. Two of our friends, who we know through Manics fandom/Forever Delayed, were celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary with them renewing their wedding vows. And, of course, a little party and drinkies afterwards. As is only right and proper. It was a really lovely event. The ceremony itself was only short and understated but beautiful all the same. I was very honoured to be there and I really had a fantastic time. Especially as there were a load of people there who I’d not seen for a long time, so it was really nice to catch up with everyone!

I designed a card for the happy couple which I thought I’d show here. The market for Congratulations-on-your-twentieth-anniversary-and-on-the-renewal-of-your-wedding-vows card market is pretty small (and dare I say it, niche) so I didn’t really have much to go on. I wanted something which not only reflected the anniversary side of things, but also the fact this was, in effect, a second wedding. And of course, trying to be a little different. This is what I came up with. I think it does the trick. I hope you agree.

The card design for Finn & Dave

Hopefully, I covered all my bases here. I was quite pleased with how it all came together in a relatively short time. I really need to try and push my colour pallet thought!

Got back again…

Hello. It’s been a while, eh? A lots been going on as well. I’m now back in Blighty after my two month trip to the states – It was a very cool experience, and I had a fantastic time. It was kind of odd though, time wise. The trip seemed go fly past in no time at all, but being in Yosemite and places like that right at the start seem like a lifetime ago now. I guess that’s just the nature of such things really. We fitted a huge amount of stuff in though, so it’s all good. Huge amounts of “stuff” and huge amounts of traveling, for me, is obviously going to equal huge amounts of photos. And, this is indeed the case. There’ll be more of that to come in the near future, but this post isn’t about that – it’s about something else. So, here goes…

Basically, The Tragically Hip are back on tour again, with another mammoth tour, but more importantly, with mammoth shows. They’ve returned to their ‘Evening With…’ style shows, which were debuted on the 2000 Music @ Work tour. Sadly, I missed that, but I wasn’t going to suffer the same fate this time! Whilst in America, we managed to work our schedule around one of their shows at the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco. It was a great show, and great place to see them. I took my gear along and recorded the show as well. The highlight for me had to be when they (finally) played ‘Escape is at Hand for the Travelin’ Man’ which was absolutely beautiful! However, seen as I’ve posted versions of that before on here, I thought I’d share another little surprise from the show: Throwing off Glass – a song which, by Gord Downie’s own admission “We don’t play too much…” I also created some artwork for the show which also uses some of my own photos I took in San Francisco – Here’s the wrap around front cover:


If you’re reading this, and want to get hold of a copy of the show (for free, naturally), you can download it by going over to The Hip Tracker.

The other tapers have also been out in force as well, travelling around and capturing all the great performances and special little gems which get dropped into the sets every now and then! It’s really great that there are people out there willing to do it, and that the band are cool with it. Anyhow, the 2009 DVD’s are starting to surface, and I’ve been asked to produce some artwork for it. Which, I duly did…

When I create artwork for recordings or DVD’s etc, I often try and make it in keeping with the artwork of the album the band are currently touring (in this case: We Are The Same). It was pretty tricky with this album, as there’s not a huge amount to work with, so I’ve tried to recreate the eroded, glowing, typewriter font as best I can, mixed in with some of my own style work. I think the two sit together rather nicely, and I’m pleased with the two sets of artwork I’ve produced so far. Hopefully I’ll get to do some more – we’ll see what else emerges.

Call Upon The Author…

Call Upon The Author Banner

I recently created a banner for my friend Matt Merritt‘s music review/blog site, Call Upon The Author. Matt wasn’t too specific about what he wanted which was nice as it gave me free rein – All I knew was the name of the site, the rough dimensions and that it was a blog about music. Right from the start I felt that the name conjoured up quite a classic, retro feel which pretty much defined the look and style of the banner, hence the gramophone, typewriter and the general colouring. Obviously, I attacked it with a multitude of other elements and layers until I had the finished banner that you see above. I was happy, Matt seemed happy, and fits snuggly into the site. Yay!

All that is left to say is, go check out the site and say hi from me!

Twenty One

I’ve just gotten back to London from Leicester where I spent the weekend. Last week my (little) sisters turned 21, and I, along with a load of others trekked up to Leicester (where my sister Hannah is at DMU) for some belated celebrations. I thought such an occasion warranted special cards. I wanted to make different cards for each of them (obviously) but I wanted them to sit as part of a pair. I spent a while failing to think of imagery which would be suitable for a 21st birthday cards until Snoo made a great suggestion! As part of their celebrations they are taking a trip to New York. New York has lots of beautiful imagery and symbols so I decided to go with that – the fact that I have a total love affair with NYC and could look at photos of it all day also helped sway my decision. I also added in some champagne as the celebration element and there you have it! Job’s a goodun. The font used is trusty ol’ Sidewalk. I’m pleased with the way they turned out, and they seemed to go down well with the birthday girls!