Brief, directions and guidelines
The only hard direction I received on ‘Siren Charms’ was on the cover – the art director had supplied me with a very rough sketch of what he thought the cover would be. I took this and created the fully painted and rendered image that became the cover. He felt that something iconic, strong and simple would be our best course – Once I had completed it, I absolutely saw what he meant.
First reaction when hearing the music
Complete excitement! I loved it from the first listen. In Flames’ music has always been able to make me see pictures – this album was no exception. The first impression after hearing the whole thing was that it sounded big — the world of the album felt vast and powerful – so if you look at the art, there are no borders. It’s all as if we captured an image in some kind of endless void filled with large, incredible things.
Relationship to the music, lyrics and art
I would say the art is driven slightly more by the lyrics than the music. However I still feel the drawings lend a tonality that can be shared with the songs. To me, the best album art makes you visualize a world and the music enhances it – that is what I hope was accomplished on this record: to create a world inside the mind of the listener.
Inspiration and influences
The primary influence for my work on Siren Charms was an artist called Stephen Gammell. He illustrated a series of books I read in my childhood called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and his artwork it absolutely fantastic. He was able to create bizarre otherworldly images that made your imagination go wild. That was what I felt was needed on this project. Its cool how things from our past have a way of resurfacing so many years later. I’m glad I could bring some of that into this record.
Storyline and concept
Having worked on the Jester’s Curse, a storyline that follows the music is an idea that I absolutely love/look for. For Siren Charms we had several conversations about the kind of visual narrative we wanted to tell. If you look at the images in the booklet, there is a story there. It’s a bit like a David Lynch film, some parts are out of order, but each image supports an idea. The cover is sort of the compass for which you can start navigating the story.
Drafts and preparation i.e. sketches, drawings, ideas, etc.
I work digitally. So this frees me up for a lot of experimentation since it’s an infinitely forgiving medium. I can try just about anything without fear of needing to “fix” something later. For Siren Charms, we didn’t make use of photographs or any outside work – we wanted it fully illustrated.
Band or label feedback
On Siren Charms I worked with an art director – my good friend Andreas Werling, who also works in the band’s management. He was my primary contact for the artwork and I would bounce ideas off of him regularly. We had worked together on the Jester’s Curse and have a pretty good short hand for creative communication. Our interactions usually consisted of a quick conversation about an idea, a sample image I would send and then maybe some small notes before a final. It was very smooth.
I did hear from the band during the process however — It was when I had sent in the piece for the “Rusted Nail” single — it was a ship that looked like it had teeth and it was in this void. I emailed it to Andreas in Sweden, feeling fairly good about the work. About 10 minutes later I get a call from Stockholm and it’s Bjorn and Anders – they both told me how much they loved the artwork and were incredibly complementary. After that I knew we’d honed in on a look that the band would get behind. That was a great day. Those guys are incredibly kind.
Prepare artwork for final release, formats and special requirements
For Siren Charms we released two CD’s – a standard version and deluxe version — there is no significant difference in the artwork other than the deluxe has a bit more intricate packaging and an additional track. The Vinyl however had some different artwork incorporated and its own special layout.
Feedback from public, media and final thoughts
A few articles:
Legacy Magazine #92
By Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.