I originally suggested an astronaut for the cover image, with the festival in its sunny downland, being reflected in the visor. I thought they might have overlooked this bit of history, but they hadn’t, it’s just not where they wanted to go.
I made an image all the same, which they like, and I think it’s found a place on the volunteers’ tee-shirts.
Peter Fleming is a funny and perceptive author on the sort of mess he conjectures in this book.
I’d started a painting of a motley crew of, well, I only knew they were inspired by a film of Alexei German called Hard To Be A God, which is an incredible feast of filth set on another planet where the Renaissance hasn’t materialised… You get the picture. The painting is called Feeding The Sea God In Dirt Bay. A jolly day out by the water for inhabitants of this brutal and toxic landscape.
“Donald Trump, Brexit, the impending environmental eco-blitz (or what NASA calls a “Type-L” collapse given the role played by elites) and the prospect of another Radiohead album give the appearance that things couldn’t possibly get worse. And yet, I disagree. They probably will.”
The author, Ron Purser, had the idea which I drew up on Illustrator after finding a great picture on the Adobe Stock library and filtered through Photoshop.
He’s already got a lot of ace reviews; here’s one that sets the tone nicely:
“This is it. McMindfulness is just the right book at just the right time. With crystalline clarity and delightfully lucent prose, Ron Purser prosecutes a devastating case that mindfulness enthusiasts have placed their practice in collusion with the malignant individualism of neoliberalism. Purser’s argument cannot be ignored. May it help turn the tide of western ‘spirituality’ toward a genuine model of personal and social health.”
— Glenn Wallis, author of A Critique of Western Buddhism and Director of Insight Seminars
Spring was in the air. Or it was supposed to be.
A fun-packed job for Adobe Illustrator. I used the shape of the ‘r’ letterform to create a negative spaced shape that suggested an open catalogue. Very meta as we say or maybe not.
A bit obvious, I know, but there was a need for a very simple, almost violently direct image to illustrate a subject which is frightening in its complexity.
“I try and read everything Keith Kahn-Harris writes on British Jews and this intelligent book, on how anti-racists have lost their way, and how they can find their way back, is no exception.”
– Ben Judah, author This Is London
The much-missed Mark Fisher and the weighty anthology he deserved, with a cover of cosmic splendour and gold-embossed type. My approach was much more woodcutty and earnest until Tariq gave me the starmap.
“… He loved unsettling television and disruptive pop because these – along with the music press – had served as his education as a working-class boy cut off from high culture. Fisher’s enduring faith was that irruptions of the culturally new and alien could instil the confidence that change was possible in other areas of life. Such disturbances proved that the structures and strictures of the status quo were not immutable. Possibly overestimating slightly, in his characteristic and endearing way, Fisher hailed (Russell) Brand’s Messiah Complex performances as a tour de force showcase of politics as ‘the psychedelic dismantling of reality’…” – Simon Reynolds The Guardian
A lovely simple idea from Tamar Shlaim of Repeater which I think I drew in Illustrator. Note to self: get these covers up when you’ve done them, then you can remember how you did them.
“AC/DC were one of the first bands I heard as a child coming from my older brother’s bedroom. I instinctively loved them and failed to notice that when Bon Scott pronounced his desire for Rosie, he was saying it in spite of her not being a perfect size eight. I still hadn’t clocked this when I first saw them live at the age of 18 and was faced with the inflatable Rosie who was, quite literally, the size of a house.”
A bit of an Illustrator challenge. The author liked the simple red background and the speakers-as-skyline, but the route to simplicity was full of complicated and closely examined scenery. “Dead Precedents is almost pamphlet-length, barely 150 pages long – although accompanied by extensive notes, bibliography and further listening, appropriately – but it is no less emphatic in its argument that the 21st century truly began with these twin movements. And even if the cyberpunk moment encapsulated in the thrilling writings of William Gibson, Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling has passed, its spirit lives on in the Afrofuturist R&B of Janelle Monáe or the beats of Flying Lotus, the films of Boots Riley, the Afropunk festival, and a thousand other bionically blooming flowers of hip-hop culture. And this is before we even contemplate what the young people growing up on Black Panther will go on to create. Grandmaster Flash was ‘hip-hop’s first hacker, its first cyberpunk’, Christopher contends at one point; he will not be the last.” – Dan Hancox The Guardian
Only the strong survive in Tariq Goddard’s take on the Victorian novel. It’s a tray-bake from hell; a gruesome and appalling bunch of characters roaming the pages, coming to no good. Wonderful stuff. There’s a novel-length party scene which is like reading Hunter S Thompson on the very special English gift of perfect rudeness . It’s a huge, electrifying book. I got the cover idea from Mat Osman, electrifying bassist mate of Tariq’s.
A taste: “Nature and Necessity opens in the 1970s and ends roughly around the present day. The lady of the house is Petula Montague, who married into money in the form of her second husband, Noah. She has two children from her previous marriage whom she alternately dominates and neglects; Evita eventually runs away and becomes a drug-addled hippy, whereas Jasper, or Jazzy as he is known, stays on the family estate as a disgruntled labourer, ‘like a cross between Arthur Scargill and Bill Sykes’. Petula lavishes all her attention on her daughter with Noah, Regan (the King Lear reference is entirely relevant). She encourages people to refer to them as ‘the sisters’, and we are told ‘there had never been a point in her life where she considered her daughter’s property or affairs separate from her own”. – Henry Jeffreys The Guardian
Repeater is that rare thing: a platform for writers who range from award-winning fiction writers like Tariq Goddard (cover detail shown) to cultural theorists like the late Mark Fisher and Eugene Thacker. Everything is tackled in every genre. Music, sport, politics, philosophy, travel and general epiphanies abound. The first Repeater was Dawn Foster’s Lean Out, a rebuttal of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, a call for women to gather round, make a noise, get on that male-dominated board. Dawn’s book was a shout out to the cleaners and the not-so-rich who work hard for peanuts and then have to get the night bus home to make breakfast.
“We are alive and we don’t agree” is Repeater’s line.
Bully culture anatomy. Tristam’s book argues that the workplace conditions our empathy. I tried to construct someone who is tyrannically pretend-empathetic. We’ve all seen them. Brilliant performers but mercilessly self-interested. This is my photo-fit of such a desolate chameleon.
On the waterfront. There were so many ideas and photographs thrown at me, that this minimal idea, based on chord diagrams becoming tower blocks, seemed, in hindsight, to be the only answer. The metaphor is stronger than I originally thought: turning complicated art into bland commerce.
“When you walk around the offices, hotels and speculative housing of Docklands it’s hard to imagine the noise and atmosphere of industrial process that saturated the whole eastern stretches of the estuary. Close your eyes to conjure up the atmosphere, and the sounds are too distant to recall. The aesthetics are also scrubbed clean, the fragments of industrial residue that are left, like the cranes and former wharf buildings of West India Quay stand as a congealed moment of the past, fetish objects to remind bankers of a sense of physical history as they gamble imaginary money in digital systems.”
– Will Jennings
The Adventures Of Owen Hatherley In The Post-Soviet Space
Et tu, Brutalism. “Daffodils for Wordsworth. Deprivation for Larkin. A trashed tower block surrounded by a toxic landscape pocked with rust-pitted Ladas in a forgotten oblast 2,000 miles from Moscow for Hatherley.”
This is worth getting for the Jonathan Meades quote alone.
Up, up and away. A complicated montage of Mount Rushmore being beheaded with The Parthenon and the palace of Westminster being dragged aloft by a hot-air balloon of public opinion. Another colourful job for me and Photoshop.
In recent years, the West has seen a rising tide of populist and anti-political feeling. Figures like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage have gained power by distancing themselves from “the establishment” and portraying politics itself as the enemy of the people.
In this book, Eliane Glaser — one of the early commentators to call attention to this new wave of populism — takes stock of how we got here and where we’re going. At the heart of this is a vital question: Is the “death of politics” simply an inevitable sign of the times, going hand in hand with climate change, technological development and postmodern malaise? Or is it the intentional result of right-wing engineering?
They should be as good as they can be; created with a bit of style. But they’re often as bad as you can imagine; clip art being the accessible, modern version of sign writing. So if you’re a plumber here’s a horrible drawing of a tap. The best logos just give you the name and a memorable twist which might or might not dawn on you till later. Any FedEx driver will be aware that they’re driving a van with a cool logo on the side.
The Barnes Wallis chalk loops are diagrammatic as well as making two letters out of one.
The Pepper Army. The Chalke Valley History Festival 2017
The Sergeant Pepper homage was for the 2017 event. Celebrating 50 years of a landmark album. It seemed a good time to stop all the colour montages after that. There was nowhere to go. Records are like life as the obscure genius Andy Pratt once said . Everything was researched, from George’s Gibson SG to the headphones on the grass.
After the colour-soaked montages of previous years, I was allowed to change course, which meant I could put words on the picture, making the events and other details more informal part of the picture. They also made nice t-shirts.
Gi Blues, Greens and Oranges. A popular image that went on the volunteers’ t-shirts. A montage of a picture I took in Efesus in 2007 with a solitary GI. All but obliterated by the scrawl of the various speakers that year.
Six o’clock shadow. There were so many talks to illustrate and I tried to give them their own alternative book covers. Especially Max Hastings’ talk on the wreckage of Berlin in 1945, All Hell Let Loose. The Peninsula War by Peter Caddick-Adams inspired a striking image:
My friend Stuart Moxham broke big with his minimalist band Young Marble Giants in 1980. He’s by nature almost brutally modest, but is one of the world’s most naturally gifted composers. This is a collection of songs he made as demos but they’re all lovely.
Legends & Tales Of Dolphins & Whales is a musical project put together and co-composed by Napier Marten. It’s part of a long term plan of his to create awareness for our cetaceous planetmates who need a lot more of the public sympathy they’ve had so far. Max Middleton is musical director. Any true fan of Jeff Beck will know his name from the epochal early 70s Blow By Blow and Wired albums.
For Hugo Stuart. He had a vineyard and this was to advertise to Chinese buyers. It was the year of the serpent I think. I hope it was.
Not the year of the Snakebite which is a cocktail of a decidedly more simple and robust texture, combining lager and cider in equal measure with the optional luxury of blackcurrant cordial. Which is a Snakebite Black, or a Diesel. Oh, anyway…
I was scanning bits of wild pen and ink drawings hoping I could emulate some of the early loveliness that the Chinese caught in their calligraphy.