Apologies, I Have None are a band that I hold very close to my heart. The first piece of artwork I did for them was a good few years ago now for 2 Sticks and Six Strings. In those days they were a two piece. I have very distinct memories of sitting in the kitchen covered in printing ink at 3am, rushing to get everything ready for print the next day. I’m glad to say our time management has improved since then. I’m not sure my nerves could handle that kind of pressure long term.
From the very beginning, the lyrics have been the starting point of my work. I struggle to draw, paint or create anything that doesn’t tell a story or reflect it’s subject in some way. It’s the little details that excite me, however subtle they may be, it’s important just to know they are there. Each piece I’ve made for Apologies has it’s own story. Some of them intertwine and cross over.
So ‘London’ has been my greatest challenge yet. It is the most personal record I’ve heard in a very long time, which is only magnified by the fact that I feel that I’ve lived it in some respects. It has been near on impossible to be objective and detach myself from the way I feel when I listen to the record. That aside, the most important thing was that the artwork was as personal and relevant to the band as the songs inside it. Embracing the emotional roller-coaster, I put on ‘London’ and began work.
The first thing I do when working with any band is to listen to their music on loop. I scribble down lyrics that form vivid pictures in my mind, that help to set a scene or evoke some sort of emotion. These are usually my starting point for creating the right tone or feel for the artwork. With Apologies, I also made lists of all the of the places they mentioned and that were personal to them.
I used my lists to sketch out and draw each individual element using mainly pen and ink, pencil, watercolour and acrylic. I made a conscious decision to try to capture the ‘feeling’ of a building or a place, rather than using lots of intricate detail to create accurate copies. The majority of the drawings were from life or pictures that Dan took with the record in mind; the laundrette they used to live above, the 26 bus, a map of the area they live in.
Once I had all the elements, I used photoshop to bring everything together. The outside was to be darker, heavier, a little more looming and claustrophobic. The inside was to have a feeling of openness and a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I really enjoyed this part, this is where everything started coming to life. I find using photoshop really enables me to play around with colours, and use drawings in ways they were never really intended. Layering up lots of images really helped to create the heavy sort of feeling I was hoping for.
To tie everything together, we wanted to capture the tone of the record in just a few words. After a fair amount of deliberation, it turned out these lyrics pretty much said it all. ‘There is always an answer, there is always a lesson’ and ‘With no back up plan or way out’ were hand written and worked into the inside spread of the LP and CD. I added the Apologies, I Have None logo to the front – taken from Josh’s cab, and the work was complete.
Check out Apologies, I Have None for more details.