Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tori Roze and the Hot Mess

Tori Roze illustration: Graham Smith

I illustrated the portrait of musician Tori Roze for the cover of her new album, from the Hip, created together with her band, The Hot Mess. The album is set to debut, so here is a behind the scenes peek at what it takes to put together artwork for an indy music project like this.

Above, is the finished illustration, and below, is a photo of me autographing a few of the pre-release CD's. (Poolside, of course.)

But I'll tell you, a lot goes into designing a CD package before you get to kick back and sign albums with rock stars. The good thing is, all the work is fun!

Graham Smith - illustrator
A while back: I was drawing Tori Roze at a downtown life drawing workshop. I remember her,  because she stared right at me for the entire 3 hours. At the end of the session, she asks, "Will you draw my album cover? I'm going to release an album one day."

Three years later, the phone rings. "I'm in the recording studio now, finishing my album! Will you still do it? "

Making the B(r)and: To determine a visual direction, we started with a recon mission to watch Tori Roze and the Hot Mess rock the house at a club in Ocean Beach.  Guitarist, music aficionado and champion pumpkin carver, Mike Aryes flew wingman that night. After soaking up the vibe, we scheduled a photo shoot to get some reference shots for me to draw from.

Style: We were lucky to get Photographer Teresa Heath for this shoot at the Bluefoot Bar in Hillcrest, California. Teresa's natural light shooting style was a great match for Tori's keeping-it-real vibe. At the same time, I shot illustration reference shots with my trusty Canon 400d. Hair: Omar Coronado rocked the hair style and makeup, knocking out an inspiring, rock and roll do. Fashion:  Fables by Barrie provided Tori's super-fly, punky outfit.

Tori gets her hair did by Omar Coronado.
Photographer Teresa Heath enjoys a private concert while shooting Tori Roze.
selecting reference shots for a portrait.
Selecting the best reference for an illustration and selecting the best photograph are two different things. Knowing what you want in the final illustration will help you choose.

Illustration: I like to draw the portrait with blue pencil before inking it, working out the composition while developing the likeness. I have the most fun during this part, figuring out all the little geometries, textures and values.

The blue under-drawing was drawn with General's non-repro blue pencil in an Aquabee Super Deluxe 11 x 14 sketchbook. The portrait is inked with Black Cat India Ink on Aquabee paper using a Hunts 513ef nib.

Preliminary artwork - blue pencil on Aquabee paper.

It's all about her eyes....and her hair!

Tori Roze by Graham Smith, ink 11 x 14
Inking is all about drawing. Not tracing. If you only trace the sketch, the line quality may appear stiff and without surprise.

I inked up a few different versions of Tori Roze. This one (above) just didn't have the major dose of attitude needed to be an album cover. I did like the way her lips came out, though.

Graphics: I love hand drawn typography so, I wanted to brush the name of their album all in one go, like the old school calligraphers did. I used a #8 brush and 14 sheets of paper before I got it just right. 

Type: Tori Roze's voice has a delicious old school flavor, and since most of the artwork is loose, I decided to set the bands name in an old typeface with 1930's flavor, as a visual counterpoint.

 The Hot Mess: Serge McCoy - drums, Harley Magsino - bass, Johnny Alexander - guitar, Jordan Morita - trombone, keys, Lee Clark - backing vocals, flute illustrated by Graham Smith.
Design: I assembled the illustrations, logos, liner notes, copyrights and all that stuff into the template provided by the CD duplication house. The final, print ready artwork was provided to the printer as a 300 dpi, cmyk, Photoshop file, uploaded through their website and printed on recycled paper.

album artwork in print ready template

Promotion: 2 weeks later, Tori rolled out of bed to sign CD's after returning from her New York City tour. Hell yeah, Rock Star.

Tori Roze holds up her new album "From the Hip".
Tori Roze. photo: Graham Smith

Tori's Roze and the Hot Mess upcoming gigs on: Facebook

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Reaper

The Reaper. Graphite, ink and digital, by Graham Smith.

See this illustration along with 14 distinguished artists work at the "Of Light and Shadow" art show at DEMA office in Encinitas, California.  818 South Highway 101. Encinitas, Calfornia, until November 17th, 2010.

Archival prints available on request. 100% cotton paper. Matte finish. Hand titled and signed by he artist. $50 each. 13 x 19 inches.

"The Reaper" detail - Graham Smith

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