Gathering ideas like an ideas-gathering machine.

January 12, 2018

Have spent the past 3 - 4 days trawling through Rush albums searching for workable ideas. A 'workable idea' is one that I feel can be easily translated into a visual form.

 

I've got it down to a 4-stage process.

 

1. Album artwork - Is there anything that immediately jumps out ? Prog is known for its rarely-understated album cover artwork. They are a great source for ideas, mostly because anything I use will likely already be familiar to fans. 

For example, Battersea Power Station and the flying pig from Pink Floyd's 'Animals'. Both are easily recognisable Prog motifs that provides an obvious visual cue back to the music.

 

2. Track titles - Unless a song relates directly to the album artwork ( e.g., Genesis' 'Musical Box' - the lyrics of which were the inspiration for the artwork of 'Nursery Cryme'. ) there's usually a certain amount of disconnect between the words and the pictures, which can require some effort to 'decipher'.

Though a certain amount of mental gymnastics is a welcome thing, I don't want the illustrations to be too cryptic, as that's not the point of the illustration -  it's a visual scavenger hunt, not a puzzle.

 

3. Lyrics - It's funny how, even though I've been listening to this music for more than 30 years, I still need to see the lyrics in front of me, in black and white.

Perhaps it's because, that way, they are just words, rather than being part of the music, and easier to focus on ?!

Often, hidden away, I will find line, or phrase, that really exemplifies the entire song, and / or will work great in a visual format.

They're like a hidden treasure that needs are little digging to uncover. 

 

4. How ideas can work with each other - Sometimes, while I'm compiling the list of ideas, the lightening bolt of inspiration will strike - I could put *this element* with *that element* !

Often, arranging the elements on the page is the most complicated part of the creative process. By linking ideas together, I can reduce the number of component parts that go into creating the overall illustration.

Also, I feel it just works better artistically - instead of a series of separate elements just placed on the page, it makes them feel interconnected and more dynamic ( e.g., 'Cannibal Surf Babe' biting the arm of the winged boy from the cover of 'Afraid of Sunlight' in my 'Marillion 1989 - 2016' illustration ).

 

So, ultimately, what I end up with is a scribbled list of ideas, notes, and thumbnail sketches.

I'll read through the list, striking the ideas that won't really work, making more notes on how other ideas could work together.

 

Then I create a separate list of the 'characters' - the figures that will form the main focus of the illustration. It's ideal to have approx. 6 - 7 characters to form a 'gallery' that will occupy the front / centre. If I have less than 6 -7, I may need to go back to the list to see if there's something I missed.

If there's more, then I have to make an editorial decision on who gets culled, and moved to another part of the illustration, although this may change once I've started the 'planning' stage.

 

More on that next time ...

 

M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mark Andrews 2018

MDA Illustration, PO Box 6506, Coventry, CV3 9PG, UK