When I was about fourteen I got a part time job at a sign painting business in Dartford, they wanted someone that was “arty”, could draw and was cheap to help with the design of their signs. I became fascinated with type design and the many graphic ways that you could use to get your message across. The process of taking your small sketch and then transforming it into a huge illuminated sign for all to see was to me sheer magic. This was to be very useful to me later in the 80’s when I started a business called Mega Arts. We painted advertising on the sides of 45 ft 'semi' trailers. My knowledge was even more useful to me when I was hired to paint Vegas World Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The hotel was 36 stories high and 180 ft across, this coincidentally turned out to be the “largest mural in the world” and was in the Guinness Book of Records for many years.
Ever since my first image was used on a record cover (remember record covers?) I have developed a very collaborative way of working with musicians and bands. Most musicians (with a few notable exceptions, Bryan Ferry & David Bowie in particular) are lacking in a visual language,they have the music down but don’t really know much about art and images. To come up with a suitable visual package that is attractive and represents what the band’s music is all about is quite beyond them. Throw into this situation the fact that you have many different outside influences working on the band who all want their say in the design, you have fans, wives, girlfriends, parents, boyfriends, the manager, the record company maybe even the mate of the drummer who went to art school and “can draw real good” - you can see that as well as being a design task it is also a case of working with extreme diplomacy to make everyone feel that their ideas have been heard &are valid, even if they are discarded. The final say is - of course - the record company because they are paying the bill, but you have to juggle the band’s sometimes crazy and impractical ideas with the commercial goals of the record company and come up with a design solution that looks to the band as if they had designed it themselves and pushes the envelope in terms of outrageousness. Then, probably the best thing that could happen was to have your record cover banned or for it to cause outrage in some political faction or fringe group that thought they had been slighted; these days no one seems to care.
Sometimes, as part of designing a band’s record cover,. I would be asked to come up with a logo, that could be put to many uses – big & small - and be used as promotion as well as be utilized on millions products. My logo for Genesis is probably my best know in that respect but I’ve done many, and for such diverse companies as a bakery in Venice, a line of blue jeans, a beer label for a brewery in England, I’ve even designed logos for the merchandise of major motion pictures. Graphic design has been a solid and fundamental part of my career as a “fine” artist and it interests, sustains and entertains me to this day.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (truck mural)
Holding Pattern (CD cover)
Intergalactic Mastercharge (billboard)
Vegas World (largest mural in the world in its day)
Vegas World (alternative view)