Wednesday, 21 June 2017

a Fruity Fruity day of music

Short Version >

The guys at work wanted to put together a festival.
So they put together a festival.
I did the poster.

Lunchtime read version >

Taking inspiration from Kate Moross, who is a personal fave since I got her book, Make Your Own Luck. I drew out the posters layout with pen and then scanned it in and this is when the fun began. Colours were cranked up to eleven and added. The drawing was centered. It was live traced so that it could be scaled and manipulated.

Progress being made, it was still looking a bit bare so was asked to supplement it with illustrations of some kind. I wanted a fruity version as that is what you make punch with and they wanted to appropriate an illustration they had already commissioned for a previous project. It was an illustration of Newcastle done for the Hit the North festival. So I did both to please both parties.

With the preference going against me, I coloured the illustration of Geordie town as the line up was being finalised (all band names were place holders beforehand) and it announced last Friday with early bird tickets as cheap as £3 to see 11 of the hottest North East music has to offer and were available on that day.

Below is the final artwork and the Punch logo >

This post is not available in a long read format.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Good Type, Unknown Band: Part Two

Up and coming bands are often more unknown to my ears but it doesn't mean that you can't make a good poster. So here in a small series, I am gonna highlight some of these.

Wesley Gonzalez is another artist I know nothing about. I think he was in a band at some point and now he is not and is going his own way. Seems like a possibility to me.

Occasionally I get art direction from agents because there is a distinct lack of trust that we as the promoter will somehow tarnish the bands image. So I was supplied with this...

'please have all info in a box around this image using Helvetica font.'

so I took this direction to mean this...

I must of done something right because it got approved. Yes, I know it doesn't look original and the kerning is awful on 2017 (every font has trouble with this year). But it is nice. Clean, Clear and something a bit different.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Good Type, Unknown Band: Part One

Not all the bands that come through the SSD Concerts doors are that well known. I was asked this week if I'd ever listened to David Gray. A co worker defended me by saying I listen to Post punk not pop singer songwriters from the nineties. Thanks Dom.

On a lower scale, up and coming bands are often more unknown to my ears but it doesn't mean that you can't make a good poster. So here in a small series, I am gonna highlight some of these.

Wedding are a band I don't know anything about. When it was added to the system we all thought that it was a wedding, that someone was actually going to get married. But one day when it had to be announced a press photo was put my way. It looked like the Velvets.

Not provided with a logo, I chose to use one font. Univers. This is an amazingly varied typeface and makes for a dynamic type layout.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

and the name of the band was The Jackals

The Libertines broke up. Carl formed Dirty Pretty Things. The Libertines Reformed. The Libertines Broke up, Carl Barat did a solo album. The Libertines Reformed but not before Carl Barat formed The Jackals made up of ordinary musicans via auditions. Great story James, what's next I hear you cry?

Well when it was first confirmed that the good ship Barat and his merry Jackals were coming to Newcastle. I did one of my 'unique posters' as I call them in the office, as they are free from the control of press photos or nonsense rubbish like that. I am sure they are there for a reason agents etc but they do not make very good posters do they. (see all of the posters I am not sharing with you this month.

So James, instead of doing the very creative thing of going what does a Jackal mean? what could I symbolise to represent a Jackals? I just took the step of taking an image of one and making it front and centre. bam!

What are some eye catching colours, yellow and pink great. Fonts? Nah, I'll just scribble on it with my macs track pad.

Process over! present poster!

In the Mood for Ska

Few bands assume legendary status without deserving it. The Skatalites are one of those bands. Legends of the music they pioneered. Not always the centre of attention themselves, they would be the backing band for many heavyweights of the Jamaican music scene, accompanying Delroy Wilson, Desmond Dekker and Laurel Aitken.

None of the founding members are alive today but the music still lives on under The Skatalites banner. Probably most well known for their Guns of Navarone track which to this day has all of us dancing our socks off.


I present my poster for this band. Taking a modern press photo and mocking it up to look like a vintage show poster with scuff marks and everything. The colours are bright to drawn the eye and because they are symbolic of genre. One of the few chances, I have had to bring a style to a poster but it works.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Name of the band was LVL UP

It's hard when your visual pun is this good and the agent doesn't like it. It really hurts my soul.

This literally took me ten minutes to knock up and got knocked back three times by the agent.

This is one of my favourite posters, that never was. I guess it will sit the the James Reay gig poster archive which is available here. Depending on which, computer, browser or what not depends how broken it looks.

Will be updated soon. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Power in the Darkness

Tom Robinson is a man I greatly admire. Throughout his career in music, he has given the world some great tunes and given the chance to younger musicians. He has been political and outspoken on mental health, sexuality and racism. So it gave me great pleasure to do a gig poster for him when he came to Newcastle. Adding pressure was the fact he is touring for the 40 year anniversary of 2-4-6-8 Motorway and doing a benefit for Motor Neurone disease, this had to cool.

The Power in the Darkness fist was supplied and I made it looks like he is standing as the power in the darkness as I cut round the image of him. I supplemented this with some simple typography, not one to over complicate it or use an inappropriate typeface. I tried several ways of showing that it was a benefit show but the one me and the boss liked was the little banner on the bottom with the supplied charity logo.

Tom if you are reading, I hope you like it. Plus I am a huge fan and my dad saw you play the City Hall, Newcastle and you came on to play Waiting for the Man as the roadies were clearing away the gear.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

My Hip Hop font

Now I know what you are thinking, how does that work. I have tried it on a number of gig posters for the hip hop genre and it works everytime. Before my unannounced break from blogging I showed y'all my KRS One Poster which used the font Compacta, a tall bold sans serif. Now it is the font I use for hip hop posters.

The latest poster to feature it is Pharoahe Monch. It just seems to make. There is no great trickery to this, just a colour corrected image but the typography just makes it stand out. The weight variations in it too stack really well and form a solid type brick.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Valentine's day

Elvis would be proud, or rather Barney Bubbles would be proud, he is the first guy I can think of who 'misprinted' something. He probably isn't but in my from of reference he is. If you have no idea what I am talking, lease take reference of and go listen to This Year's Model by Elvis Costello and the attarctions. Below is the original artwork which sees Elvis' E cut off  and the CMYK palette revealed. 

Not Typographically similar but image wise I have interpreted this for an Electric Six's members show in both Leeds and Newcastle. But as with everything I do, I took it to the extreme.  You know we love extremes. He has what some might perceive as a rude name but it's all okay.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Hacienda Class

WHen I was getting into design, I drowned myself in Factory records associated design. From the record sleeves to the designers themselves, to the buildings that they owned. The Hacienda is probably the most famous of all of them buildings. It was Ben Kelly's stripes that became one of the most recognizable things about the building.
not many photos online of inside but here is a demo one.
Years down the line, I have done a gig poster as homage to that building for the touring tribute 'Hacienda Classical' which includes DJ's from the club playing along with string sections. It's nothing special but it does have a special place for me.

They influenced me so this is my homage to them.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Hey Mama, said the way you move.

What kind of bloke would I be if I had not done a poster for the leftfield Scottish indie outfit Pronto Mama? No kind of man.

Introduced as a band who were just playing Hit the North, a co worker became obsessed with them so much that he decided to put them on at a separate gig and although he didn't need a poster (the venue were gonna do one) I did this little ditty to promote the gig.

It is an interpolation of the bands debut album that came of recently. (it's a grower. Broad accents, brooding horn sections and off kilter rhythms. Well worth a listen.) I have supplied the cover art two so you can see where I am coming from.
It was really fun to do and official tops the list of the amount of flowers I have ever added to gig poster. It's kitsch and I hope I've done the band justice (geddit)

Additional > here is the band epic cover of Franz Ferdinand >

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

My Return

After two months a way from the blogosphere, I am announcing my return for as long as I can remember to post anything and don't get bogged down by work.

When I was unemployed, it was easy to post because in between job hunting there is time to let words spill out of your mouth. We shall be discussing the usual raft of subjects.

Now I am employed, I am trying my hardest to fit writing inbetween hours at work and chilling.

Here is a teaser of some of the work: it is a LVL Up compared to my old work.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Ps it's a good song.

I am a man who is not hard to please. (Beer and Pizza) I am not high maintenance when it comes to my work. I just expect a project to have a start middle and an end. (this has nigh on happened every time). Very much like my favourite fiction books Captain Underpants or one of my favourite films 24 Hour Party People. Yes, design is a story, a process if you will, but when project doesn't end, I get cross, especially when it is finished my someone else.

My boss manages a band, Lisbon. Lisbon have a new song, Jamesy gets the offer to design the sleeve. A dream come true. (it's gonna be great, it's gonna be the new unknown pleasures)

So James scurries home to look at pinterest and  consult the great books and comes up with four ideas. (Well I had more but four good ones) None of which relate to the bands old style.

So what we have here is some vector shapes, an bizarre dotted typeface mirrored on top of each other, a cropped photo of a Keep clear gate in Carlisle (from the James Reay photo archive™) and some trendy typography.

These were sent away for customer feedback. Nothing.

Three days before deadline okay here is a photo we want to use. A nice abstract holiday snap. Wonderful. However small type didn't work on it. Big type looked good but not perfect but I needed something so sent these off.

A few hours later, I had another go. This time instead of full bleed image what about framed image and it was a good call because text on the white looked so much cooler and with the addition of an extended typeface it looked fab.

Sent this off to a multitude of replies.

With some type layout changes. Cool. Oh and colour changes. No problem. And go back to that original full colour image. oh no. And add a 3D effect. That could be interesting.

I hear nothing and then see the artwork I don't like that much being used but at least it's mine.

A day later they are using there own image with a good font used inappropriately and the image has had its hue in a skew. (That artwork will not be reproduced here due to spite.)

Ps it's a good song.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

a Fiver for a can of Brewdog!

Jim and William Reid of the band The Jesus and Mary Chain are responsible for the downfall of project five a day. The bands tour came to town a week ago today and it happened to fall on the day that over the course of the day I had only manage to listen to one and a half albums. The great Goldie lookin' Chain and half of the unexpected Drutti Column album.

The brothers and the band are one of my favourite bands of all time (the best is obviously The Clash) so I didn't want to miss it. Nor did I want to give up on my project. I thought of having a catch up day on the Saturday but regardless I had still failed to stick with it thus the plug was pulled.

This was further evidenced when I tried to listen to The Mary Chain's new album the following morning and failed to complete it. I had been completely out done. I was Cracking Up.  I wasn't sidewalking with this album. (That's enough, James) Some Pyschocandy might of fixed the problem. This decision wasn't automatic. But I was looking April Skies so I didn't need a Mary Chain amputation. (You're Fired, James)

Listen to me!
and me!
 Music reviews will now feature irregularly along side all the usual great design content, rants about stuff and things (them last two are the most important). However in terms of design, I have some gig posters I really want to show you as well as a single cover that nearly was and what I think Michael Beirut. Meanwhile here is a video of the shows highlight for me.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Five a day: Week Twelve

This week I was defeated by two Scottish brothers in my quest to listen to five albums every weekday. It's been quite an adventure. I will explain later but let's review what I did hear.

Day One

Sonic Flower Groove is a psychedelic pop album by one of the most interesting bands the UK has produced, Primal Scream. This is not that good of an album but it does predate The Stone Roses debut album. Seriously, put a baggy beat to  this LP and you will have the Stone Roses debut album.

Live at the Regal is a live album by the Blues Legend BB King and it is amazing. Vaguely familiar with his work, I went into this knowing a few things but the band on this album are on form and so is Mr King. I was toe tapping smiling my head off. He knows how to front a band and engage the audience.
 Fox Base Alpha is a Pet shop boys album. Sorry no it's a Saint Etienne album but at it's heart is a Pet shop boys sound. The classy strings, the dance grooves and the song writing. However it takes a few leftfield turns with an interesting use of sampling and none descript instrumental pieces. Known for Only Love Can Break your Heart, this album is well worth a listen.

Brassbound by the Ordinary boys is a post punk revival album which features my two favourite songs by the band. These two tracks do stand out from the others as being significantly better than the rest of the album however there are some Madness type horns in places and bits that have a Specials type vibe in amongst the choppy guitars the mid 2000's revival was done for. Like that Dead 60's album.

I haven't listened to a Pigeon Detectives album since 2008's Emergency album so was unaware as to what to expect from this. Thankfully the album isn't like that one (i was worried nearly ten years down the line and they were repeating the same indie pop that got them famous. This album (Broken Glances) is a dark mellow album with some upbeat glimpses

Day Two

Berry is on top was listened to hear the legends voice once again (after his passing on the sunday prior) This album is a collection of singles from that year and works, mostly, as a best of. However the last two tracks are throwaways Hey pedro is done in a cod mexican accent and blues for hawiians is the only previously unrealesed track and is an instrumental.

Have you heard Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era? Then You don't need to hear The Parrots album Los niƱos sin miedo.

Life & Livin' It is the new funking album by the great Sinkane. Seemingly taking on board elements from his time in The Atomic Bomb Band and projecting them onto this new Lp cos it sounds fantastic. 

Grand Prix by Teenage Fanclub doesn't have as much hype around it as the album Bandwagonesque, an album I didn't 'get'. I like this album alot but still don't get the hype; this album received Critical acclaim and loved by everyone. 

I have been looking for album like this for a while.Whenever I get frustrated on angry for reasons out of my control, I have a collection of albums I turn to to get my mood back under control and now I can add this one to that list (Tracey Thorn, Laura Marling and Jamie XX are on that list). This is a gloriously chilled vocal Jazz album by Norah Jones, Come Away with me, it's called. Very relaxing and soft for when things are going wrong.

Day Three

The Rutles self titled release is normally 36 Mins but this was the CD reissue taking it to 50 minutes of Beatlesesque music. This collection are endearing parodies of The Beatles discography by their friends. They are very enjoyable but I have a feeling I won't be coming back to them soon. They are very silly.

Father John Misty's Debut album Fear Fun is a barquoue folk rock record; very cinematic strings with
acoustic guitars and backed by a rock band. It is much like the second album, I love you, Honeybear musically and is just as enjoyable.

Von Bondies are a garage punk rock outfit and Pawn Shoppe heart is a loud garage punk rock album.

Brinsley Shcwartz is a strange album. it's called pub rock but does not stand up comapred to the other bands labelled so, namely Dr Feelgood and Ian Dury. It is a bad copy cat of American folk rock with emphasis on virtuosity.

Albert King's Born Under a Bad Sign is a great electric blues LP. It has great version of Kanas City on it and is another toe tapping blues album.

Day Four

Straight outta Newport is a tongue in cheek rap album by the Welsh hip hop group Goldie Lookin Chain. The songwriting is smart but rude. I have had Self Suicide, Gun's Don't Kill People, Rapper's Do, Half Man, Half Machine and Roller Disco on repeat. 


To Be Continued

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Draw, Copy and scan. Part Four

Process, I created a cover for an EP I wrote using a certain process. So deemed it a good use of my time to use the same process for the promotional material around that.

The process: draw the image that you want and photocopy it onto coloured card and then scan in back in so that it can be shared digitally. For the cover of the release, I drew the design and photocopied it onto yellow card as seen below;

What do bands do to promote there albums? A print poster campaign, a songbook and "limited edition" poster to overcharge fans for. Okey Dokey, sounds like something that I should do.

Limited edition posters tend to look pretty, they tend to be limited numbers and they tend to be expensive. I subverted two of these things with my print. This thing is limited to one copy because no one actually will want a copy because of one of the things that I have subverted. This thing is not pretty. Black on purple is not a good colour scheme. The expense of this thing is the other thing I have subverted, it cost only the ink and paper it was printed on.

It was inspired by the work of the design company Tomato and the grunge aesthic that dominated the 90's because legibility didn't matter seemingly matter. It is a photocopier collage of the songbook posters, if you couldn't tell. I hope no one tries to play any of the songs based on this poster.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Draw, Copy and scan. Part Three

Process, I created a cover for an EP I wrote using a certain process. So deemed it a good use of my time to use the same process for the promotional material around that.

The process: draw the image that you want and photocopy it onto coloured card and then scan in back in so that it can be shared digitally. For the cover of the release, I drew the design and photocopied it onto yellow card as seen below;

What do bands do to promote there albums? A print poster campaign, a songbook and "limited edition" poster to overcharge fans for. Okey Dokey, sounds like something that I should do.

Song books don't accompany every release put together by a band or artist but it shows how often the release is going to be covered and since I expect this release to take over the world just like Ed Sheeran's new release, I thought I better produce the sheet music for this release.

I am not a musican, I am a man who plays music. I wrote the words to this release (For better or Worse) in a lyric book and as I worked out the songs on the guitar, I scribbled the chords on top of the words. This is how I played the songs so I thought it this is how other people should play the songs.

I photocopied them straight from the book and I like how raw they look with the gaps at the bottom and the gaps at the top as the book itself is B5 on an A4 paper. You can see the text from the page behind and includes notes from previous versions of the tracks. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Draw, Copy and scan. Part two

Process, I created a cover for an EP I wrote using a certain process. So deemed it a good use of my time to use the same process for the promotional material around that.

The process: draw the image that you want and photocopy it onto coloured card and then scan in back in so that it can be shared digitally. For the cover of the release, I drew the design and photocopied it onto yellow card as seen below;

What do bands do to promote there albums? A print poster campaign, a songbook and "limited edition" poster to overcharge fans for. Okey Dokey, sounds like something that I should do.

Taking cues from the book I got for christmas "Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976 - 80" I set about advertising the release. The majority of the book features self published gig posters and single covers done by the bands, very few had studied design so they took an novice approach.With a low budget a lot of the ads featured in Sniffin' Glue were scribbled words in permanent marker.

Below is my version. Words scribbled on paper.

 I took a different tactic with the other 2 versions. featuring the release. So I came up with some really catchy slogans because that's how advertisers work (really James I never would of gotten that). They are personality driven, being sassy as I am. (I once addressed myself as being sassy to a lady at party and she burst out laughing...Is it really that funny?)

Insulting the audience and asking the audience a question are two ways to engage a potential audience so that's what I chose to do. Notice how they feature the album cover but it is no longer yellow, this wonderful effect was given by the photocopier.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Five a day: Week Eleven

Day One

Rita Ora's debut album ORA is a generic pop sub genre Bland. It has the pop album problem of tone because one minute it attempts to be hip hop then pop rock and then EDM. There is no character to her voice. There is one good track and that is not even her track; anyone producer made a successful drum and bass track and they tagged it on as the last track.

Cheryl's a million lights starts really really well because the beat of the first track sounds like a hip hop beat but then the song Unfortunately apart from this drum break it is generic electro pop with a few slow numbers because we don't want people dancing all the time. Also how come a lady with the most broad of geordie accents sounds like Rita Ora on this thing. Autotune?

Heatworms is the new album by The Shins and it sounds like a good Belle and Sebastian album. +Office Jukebox +

Worhead is the new Little Comets album and it is just like the last Little Comets album I heard, Life is Everywhere. It's not adventurous or all that interesting. +Office Jukebox +

Sticks and Stones is the debut album but ex X Factor lady, Cher Lloyd. This is straight up awful. It's Eliza Doolittle with synthesizers. The song writing is aimed at early teens, the production is offensive electro pop. She interpolates Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry with worse lyrics. She 'puts dub on the track' over dubstep and grime b listers rapping. One track is a pop rock dubstep mash up that no one wanted, she has a distinctive annoying voice. It's just awful.

Day Two

All of these are Prince albums and up until recently I hadn't heard them due to there absence on streaming services. I am a big fan of Sign O The Times and these projects are very good like that album but none of the Flawless.

Lovesexy was a great day opener. Very funky and grooves really well but verges on annoying when virtuosity takes over the feel of a track.

Purple Rain features the first Prince song I remember hearing, Lets Go Crazy, the album is not the greatest as the music papers claim. It is good for a number of the tracks are great.

1999, all the tracks are 12" mix length and some work; DMSR and 1999 but others suffer and are mostly underwritten songs that shouldn't be 8 mins long.

Around the world in a day is a conscise and funky LP and probably my fave of the day.

Parade is namely slow and lacks substance. Girls and boys, kiss and mountains are all fab.

 Day Three

Diana Vickers, another ex factor album, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree and has everything wrong with it that the others do. It has synth pop tracks, pop rock tracks and token acoustic numbers to bring the pace down.

Fleur East, ex factor contestant and an album that jumps on the funk pop thing that Uptown funk brought us. Everyone jumped on it and this album does too even covering it (Uptown funk) on x factor and tagging it on here. No one told Simon that funk it's real and not just made in garage band by the blandest producer. Water down what makes a funk record work and you have this. To be honest they actually forget it's meant to be funky half way through and it just becomes bland electro pop. Do Not Listen to Love, Sax and Flashbacks.

Emma Bunton's album Free Me is radio 2 the album with some smooth classical pop music. It has a great album cover too.

Title by Meghan Trainor is one of the most annoying albums. Lyrically for the most part is patronizing, her voice is unique but really grates on you, the idea of reviving doo woop is an odd concept and hence it only lasted 6 months. It has the worst title too.

Rachel Platten had one hit called Fight Song, it was a bad song. Generic Triumphant 'yeah I fought through ________ today, yeah!. the rest of this album 'Wildfire' filled with some inoffensive bland electronic pop music. Her voice isn't distinctive,carries no weight to it and that might of made this Album a bit less poop but I don't remember any other track.

 Day Four

Spice Girls debut album is mostly a fun R &B flavored pop record, it is consistent in tone. Each member brings something new to the range and yeah, the music is of its time but it didn't offend me, I actually quite liked it in spots.

The Saturdays covered the early Depeche Mode hit and it was a smashing success. That's all I know about them. It's not a bad song,  it's a great song actually just their version was an exact copy with worse production. This album (Chasing Lights) for the most part is synth pop but for some reason pop rock sneaks in. Why can't a bands album producers talk to each other! I digress, I nearly fell asleep because the voices all sound the same and they are all auto tuned to hell and back.

Bewitched is a nineties album. At its heart it keeps the R&B influenced pop but and this is the good bit: Irish Fiddles, Drum and Bass Passages, classical guitar, string sections and buzz saw guitar. All over the baggy, R&B thing. The lyrics are aimed at kids so can't call them out that much but this album just confused me.

What will the Neighbors say? by Girls Aloud saved the day. I love pretty much all this album. It's consistent, the songs are good (despite the pretenders and pointer sisters covers) and the production is by one bloke and you can tell. Love machine has always been a guilty pleasure but it is a great song, Arctic Monkeys covered it. It has relentless energy. It saved my sanity and now retrospectively makes me looks stoopid for hating on them when they first came out.

Ashlee Simpson's autobiography is an pop rock album. I miss the days when pop stars could be seen with guitars and not need to have very few clothes on. Ellie Goulding, I am looking at you. Yeah, this is a very pleasant pop rock album. This feel genuine as a project not done by committee of record managers in high office closing swimsuits for the album photoshoot.

Day Five

Hot thoughts by Spoon is the best of post punk rolled into one. It's dark, the drums are pounding,  and the groveling bass. Political as well, there is a great line about tearing down a certain wall.

The Haze, the new LP by Pulled apart by Horses. Is a noisy noise album the buzzsaw guitar doesn't let up much on these joyous fun garage rock tunes.

Different Creatures, is the surprise of the day by the band, Circa Waves who I keep being told are hip and cool and worth tickets for shows and I hadn't listened to them. This album is a solid indie rock record

In Mind by Real Estate is a dreamy indie guitar album. The first track is amazing with a great rhythms, fab bass parts and lead guitar lines. Then unfortunately it ends up petering out into just dreamy guitar lines and that's it. No song structures just guitars in echo.

Spirit by Depeche Mode is a musically stripped back yet lyrically clunky album. Politically empty lyrics and demanding others for the revolution when you can play just as much a part yourself. Musically it is great though.