I'm honored to have been a part of the cover design for Thom McCarthy's first full-length solo album, Marvin the Giant. Thom is one of the most innovative guitarists out there and an incredible songwriter. The record is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, and more.
Creating a visual compliment to music presents an interesting challenge. I worked closely with Thom and another visual artist, Brooke Morris, who provided the digital element to my vandyke brown print. We needed an image that would match the strange ambience of the record, making reference to influences both old and new, from classical guitar to beautiful contemporary video games. While much of the lyrical content on the record is seemingly abstract, the song Compost helps to reinforce motifs by sketching the story of a character who has died and is watching his body being eaten by bacteria in a compost pile. Rather than rely on my explanation, take a closer look at this track for yourself:
One photograph from my Wild Gravity series seemed a perfect fit to start. The subject is a huge handmade paper mask lying face up on the ground, from an angle that almost makes the nose and teeth abstract forms. After some editing magic to make it square, I sent the file over to Brooke to play with adding an element of digital art. She came up with a TON of different ideas and we kept a dialogue going for weeks. Thom was particularly intrigued by one sketch with geodesic-like green orbs, which seemed to evoke an electron microscope image Brooke had presented early on:
We finally settled on a singular orb hovering above the head. I could attempt to extrapolate meaning further, but that wouldn't be much fun now would it? Sometimes you just find an answer that makes sense.
I highly recommend taking some time to sit down with this album. Then put it on again, and again, because the songs grow and details emerge with every listen.