Tell us about your background in design and how your got started.
I started by making cassette covers and posters for local bands and for my own compilation tapes. I would cut up newspapers for the letters I needed and then photocopy it all together.
I went to Art School but all I really wanted to do was put together type and images for bands. I was playing guitar in bands and loved bringing imagery in for demos.
I moved to London at 18 with a very tatty portfolio and got a junior designer job at a poster company in Camden.
Which musical genres do you specialise in?
I set up my own design partnership in 1998, sharing an office with labels like Hard Hands (Leftfield), Cheeky (Faithless), Illicit, Classic, Music For Freaks and Wall Of Sound. I picked up all kinds of artists and labels.
I worked on Faithless for five years. I designed over 100 vinyl 12" releases for Luke Solomon and Derrick Carter's 'Classic Recordings'. I did projects for London Records, Sony BMG, V2, One Little Indian and Universal.
One minute I'd be doing a 12" sleeve for a glitchy Matthew Herbert record, next I'd be putting together a Meatloaf retrospective.
What are your creative influences and interests?
Artistically I like modern abstract work like Howard Hodgkin and Albert Irvine; really bright and bold work. I like the way Pop Art has links to music through Warhol and Peter Blake.
I love typography and I trawl bookshops for unusual fonts. Musically I listen to all sorts; working for Ace has opened my ears to so many artists I hadn't appreciated. I especially like the Kent Soul releases - artists like Millie Jackson and Sam Dees.
Also releases like “Memphis Boys” where you can get deeply into the way a studio or certain writers influenced so many others. This morning I have listened to Radiohead, Ian Dury, Gil Scott-Heron, the Masqueraders and Nick Drake, so it's fair to say I like a bit of everything.
What tools do you use in your design work.
The usual Adobe suite. Sometimes on certain artists I sketch and paint and then scan imagery in to work on or do some hand-drawn type.
Which Ace releases are you most proud of working on.
The Doré Story was a boxed project with lovely photos and a huge booklet; the cover photo was great and the colours looked strong throughout. I like the way “A Road Leading Home” by Dan Penn looks too, I think it nicely captures the mood of the music. The Apollas “Absolutely Right!” is nice, simple typography. “Radio Gold (Bigger In Britain)” looked great, as does “More Miles Than Money”. I think about each double page spread of each release, trying to get the best out of the imagery. Mick and Carol have good advice if I go astray!
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?
I would encourage anyone who wanted to do design for music to get some ideas down on paper. Design a CD for your mates’ band or redesign a CD by your favourite artist in a new style. When you are talking to labels they need to see that you are capable of good work, so go ahead and have some fun designing your very own LP.
What are you working on at the moment?
I've just done an LP and CD release for a label I design for called Crosstown Rebels, (Get Lost VII - Craig Richards) I did some weird ink blot paintings and then manipulated them in Photoshop. The music is dark and esoteric so it works well , Also, I've been doing “Live Transmission - Joy Division Reworked” and all tour posters and artwork for Scanner & The Heritage Orchestra.
What is your favourite album/single of all time.
That's hard! - Favourite LP - Probably have to be “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison
Favourite single - Probably 'Complete Control' by The Clash