The Choice Music Awards is an annual celebration of the best Irish albums. We delve a little deeper to discover the story behind the album artwork chosen by some of the contenders and its relationship to the music in question.
Illustrator Conor Campbell talks about creating authentic medieval art on buses and at beaches for Junior Brother’s debut album Pull the Right Rope.
Conor Campbell: From start to finish the cover was made while listening to each of the songs, over and over again. From the earlier demos Ronan sent me to the finished versions. The songs are written within a medieval setting so I drew from my love of archaic and medieval art (particularly tapestries and mosaics). I wanted it to feel two-dimensional but with a real expansive depth to it. And the texture of the image had to feel like the fabric of a tapestry, but pixelated (with the dots of colour I built the image with).
Each song on the album was so rich in colour to me and so I wanted the painting to feel the same, like it was alive in the same way. I remember really wanting the songs and the painting to look and sound like they existed in the same world together, aware of each other’s existence.
The initial design was a sketch Ronan gave me. It was based off of the Four of Cups tarot card. He had a really thought out idea of what he wanted and so I really engaged with that. I sketched it out first roughly on canvas and then proceeded to build it up from there, layer after layer.
The image went through several iterations in its evolution. The character’s face changed a good few times (captured on the cover of ‘The Back Of Her’ single) and certain elements like the three ladies in the field were added later as it developed to add some interesting side-narratives to the initial idea. But the fundamental design was always there. I played around with the number three a lot – you can see it with the empty cups, the three women and the hills in the background.
I started colouring in different elements with dots of colour hitting the canvas with my paint pen to the rhythm of each song. The painting nearly went everywhere with me, in cars, buses, the beach, bed. It was really great seeing it growing in front of me. I think there is definitely a few holes in the canvas from the amount of battering it got from my pens, you can see them when you hold it up to the light!
Words: Jack O’Higgins