Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Derek Hess

Today's music buying culture is a completely different beast from what I knew growing up. Before the digital take-over, people had to really do some digging to find out more about the bands they liked...and that digging usually involved a handful of s.a.s.e.'s (for all of you kids who've never actually mailed a real letter that's "self addressed stamped envelope"), and months of waiting for catalogs and/or replies. Now I won't complain about the convenience that digital downloads give me...it's nice to not have to leave the house to find a record you want...and with one click of the mouse it's in your Itunes player...ready for digestion. Although convenience can be nice, the biggest casualty (and this is debatable, I'm sure) in the digital music age has not been the local record store (although they have sadly suffered), but actual album art-work. People don't care about the artwork anymore...it's all 1's and 0's streaming onto a computer...nothing to touch...or have in your hands. Album packaging, art, design, and how it ties in with the album it's representing...those were all things that added to the over-all music experience when buying albums. It's one of the reasons I mentioned Storm Thorgerson, and his design work with Catherine Wheel. I always loved putting on a record...then sitting down and pouring over the artwork, lyrics, and pictures...trying to not only wrap my tiny brain around the music, but around the entire concept. So many graphic designers/artists have done album work that has been iconic...that shaped a label, or band. Look at the work done for 4AD, and The Pixies, by Vaughn Oliver (v23)...or the album art done for Hot Water Music by SINC...or even the Oasis branding, and album covers, done by Brian Cannon (Microdot UK). These are just 3 examples of artists who did more than just lend a picture to some band...they created art that was an integral part of the entire music experience. Along with these artists, one of my favorite music artists has been Derek Hess. This Cleveland music fan, dog lover, and artist has been doing work for bands for decades...creating art for everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Snapcase. His work is incredible...and he has an uncanny knack for capturing motion in relation to the human body. He brings a fluid feeling to his figures (human, animal, or a mixture of both)...and uses classical techniques (Contrapposto, as one example, for all you art historians out there) as the basis for his other-worldy creations. Think Michaelangelo...if he lived right now...and no, I'm not exaggerating...Derek Hess is an amazing talent. When you see his work (and I'm sure many of you have seen it and not realized it was his) you know it's a Derek Hess piece...it's nothing less than iconic. His list of accomplishments would consume my little blog for months...and so could my fan-boy gushing. I'll spare you from having to endure my pithy ramblings and post some of my favorite works by him. Enjoy...

Buy his art...thank me later.

Note: The picture at the top of the post was done by Derek Hess for my old band, The Beautiful Mistake. It was our first release since a massive member change...and Derek thought the new songs sounded like a "rebirth"...so he drew what became our album cover. I consider working with Derek Hess as one of the high points of my music journey...he was one of the most genuine, friendly people I met while touring. A true supporter of the scene, regardless of how big (or small) your band happened to be...it was a honor to have him design an album cover for us.

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