Bicephalic Records “Monster Series” Artwork Feature in Best of 2016

My “Monster Series” of tapes on Bicephalic Records was featured in A Closer Listen’s article on the best album covers of 2016!

 

bicephalic records monster series tapes

Here’s the text I wrote regarding the covers:

Theme
The underlying themes sort of manifest during the process of creation. I like to work with the natural four “solar” stations or cycles (relating to seasons, directions, and stages of life). While choosing the final drawings and arranging them into pairs, I realized they fell somewhat abstractly into these groupings.

The first 2 represent naivety and childhood. They are the twins of creation, dressed in their celestial architecture. The second pair are the elders of the tribe. They are the enigmatic faces of the initiates upon reaching the pinnacle. Next come the personifications of death and decay, shining darkly in a bright room. The final pair are astral entities from beyond. They are astral twins of the oracles, galaxy-eyed and prophetic.

Another thematic aspect that runs through many releases of my label is one of binary pairs. Bicephalic means two-headed, so I often release split tapes with artists of a complementary nature. As part of the process, I asked each of the 16 artists to provide me with 2 words they enjoyed (or made up). One word from each artist on the tape was used to come up with the titles. That’s how they ended up having names like “Immediate Shred”, “Quantum Ouch”, and “Infrared Dynamo”.

coversProcess
The finished artwork emerged from an (ultimately failed) attempt to minimize the amount of time I spent working on album art for my label’s releases. I had planned on printing each release in black ink on colored paper to simplify the design process. I began by creating drawings using black marker on cardstock paper. I created one or two drawings a day for a couple of months. The figures themselves are in a style that I often draw (it is about the only style in which I can draw). They are essentially large, improvised doodles.

It was around this time that I decided that while they looked good in black and white, they would look even better if colored using watercolors. Plus I felt this would ultimately create more unique and interesting finished pieces.

Eventually I set about selecting the final groupings. The pairings themselves sort of emerged organically according to the theme described above. These were then scanned into the computer and incorporated into the final layout for the tape artwork. Once the tape inserts were printed I began hand-painting and numbering each of the 400 pieces of artwork! The cassette labels were also printed first then hand-painted in a similar manner.

So in the end I subverted my own attempt to minimize the amount of work I would need to do. I feel it was definitely the right direction to go however since there has been an overwhelmingly positive response. My weird little children are starting to make friends!