Saturday, October 22, 2011

This World Erase - album art concept and process

This update will shed some light on the initial concepts and behind-the-scenes workings for the artwork for our new album This World Erase.  We worked with an incredible team to execute the shoot and design and also had some phenomenal good fortune as well as challenges along the way.

Artwork/Album Concept:
The concept behind the title "This World Erase" is the deletion of the world with which we are presented, and also the creation of a new world around us as we see fit. How we have explored this in the artwork is to split the design into two parts - a white, clinical, sharp and stark look and a black, bestial and organic yet elegant look.  The lyric book contains two alternate album covers to represent this black-white cycle, with the "white" representing deletion and a blank slate, and the "black" representing the primitive beginnings of a new world evolving.

The "black" look: 
The first outfit to come together is the one worn in the "black" theme. We contacted Mother of London, who has designed outfits for the likes of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, and while she was working on our design headlines broke of a fail-tastic forgery wherein one of her designs was heinously ripped off by Willow Smith's stylist.
Given the massive amount of respect we hold for her, we were absolutely blown away when Mildred (Mother of London) responded to our contact and agreed to work on a design for us.  What we wanted was a design fairly typical of her previous work, but after discussing what we wanted with her she sketched the following ideas for us:
Sketches by Mother of London

We ended up going with something most similar to the 3rd design above. As the outfit came together, we developed the rest of the look on our end and explored ideas of using a long, flowing mantilla to give a dark, ghostly impression.
Sketch by Wendy of the Mother of London top with mantilla

To achieve the primitive, organic, bestial look (countered with the lacey elegance of typical Shiv-r style) we entertained ideas of using an antler headpiece under the mantilla, drawing a hefty amount of inspiration from the late, great Alexander McQueen.  When we thought of it, the idea seemed completely unachievable.  Obtaining real antlers wouldn't be so difficult, but they would be far too weighty to mount.  It was at this point that we had another incredible stroke of good fortune.  I was discussing public art on my Facebook in regards to a completely unrelated topic, and mentioned something about how brutally effective it would be to replace a certain central city garden with a stark, gargantuan set of hands clasping an iron globe to inspire the surrounding workers.  One of my friends, John Baker, replied, and jokingly said off-hand that he could actually make such a statue out of polystyrene/polyurethane, on account of this being his trade. I spoke with John more and it turns out he has made giant polystyrene statues of the likes of Lady Gaga and has an impressive list of clients including "starchitect" Zaha Hadid. I asked John what the possibility of him making a set of lightweight polyurethane antlers for our next album cover photoshoot was and he was all for the idea. Incredible!

John used a 3DS Max object and sent it to this 5-axis C+C router to create the antlers

Work on the antlers in John's workshop

The antlers, which weighed next to nothing, were then shipped internationally from the UK, painted black and mounted to a head-piece to be worn in the photoshoot.
The final piece of the outfit is another piece of incredible custom design work from Australia's premiere corsetry and alternative couture designer Gallery Serpentine in the form of the fishtail skirt.  Steph (Gallery Serpentine) worked with us since the inception of the concept and helped a great deal in shaping the overall look of the photoshoot. Once again we were incredibly fortunate to have such a talented, creative person contributing to our visual aspect.

The final "black" look

The "white" look:
This needed to contradict the organic, lacey look of the "black" look, so the concept began with a sketch by Wendy showing a lot of sharp lines, epitomised in an angular, crystalline headpiece.  This presented a particular challenge to our hair stylist, Lyndall Vile, but after discussing the concepts she was more than up for the task and executed it perfectly, creating the head-piece out of card.

Initial sketch by Wendy

Gallery Serpentine was again instrumental in the overall design and execution, creating the full-length white coat for this look.  Our make-up artist Chereine Waddell also did an amazing job executing the essential sharp lines and pale tones.
The final "white" look
Once again we used photographer Matthew Burgess, who took the now iconic photos for our first album "Hold My Hand".  While the photoshoot for This World Erase was done in a fully kitted-out pro studio, the Hold My Hand photoshoot was done in the loungeroom of the inner-city apartment we were living in at the time in 2009, with Matthew and MUA Dallas coming to our home for the shoot, proving that Matthew is more than phenomenally capable behind the lens.

To put the final layout together, we went straight to Vlad McNeally aka Kallisti Design.  After he produced the truly exceptional artwork for our "Incision" EP, it was clear that he was the right artist for the job.  Along with the photos, we sent Vlad a detailed brief for the artwork, covering all background concepts and including a couple of very rough draft versions. Vlad then took these and did exactly what we had in mind, artfully taking the concepts into something better than we even hoped for. We have only recently been able to see the physical CD and to hold the final product in your hands is really special.  The end result of all the above work and creativity, put into a gorgeous 8-page booklet is quite breathtaking.

A giant Thank You is in order to everyone who contributed to this result.  From the concept stemming from the music and lyrics and being drafted in the concept sketches by Wendy, we would not have been able to achieve this without such an incredible, energetic and creative team. Thank You also to everyone who buys this album - I hope you're loving the end result as much as we are!