I'll always have my childhood passion up my sleeve...
Forget the money: designing record covers is a labour of love, says David Shrigley
Wednesday 17 July 2013
I normally DJ at festivals, but at Latitude I'm doing digital portraits of people. We're going to project the portraits in real time as I do them, and mic people up and record the conversations that we have, and people can watch what happens. I'll do anybody who turns up.
There's always something that I seem to be doing music-wise. Music forms quite a big part of my social life: I spend a lot of money on records and I get asked to DJ at various things, but it certainly doesn't pay my mortgage. There's still a demand for the artwork wherever it ends up, but the difference is that you used to get paid quite a lot of money to design a record cover. I do a lot of record posters for bands. I did a cover for Stephen Malkmus who did a live cover version of the Can record Ege Bamyasi – which was cool as I really like Stephen Malkmus and I really like Can.
Designing record covers is something that I always wanted to do ever since I was a little kid, ever since I was buying records when I was 11 or 12 years old. My first idea of what an artist did was that they designed record covers – and I thought that would be a really cool thing to do. Some of my earliest memories of appreciating artwork is of looking at record covers.
I've always been into drawing pictures. I guess that most kids stop doing it at a certain point, but I never did. I was really obsessed with, strangely, Live at the Witch Trials by The Fall. It was a record that I never actually had until quite a bit later on, but I really liked the artwork. It's like folk art in a way, like something that was done by a 16-year-old; I think it's a picture of some arid landscape with leafless trees and it's quite weird and crude, but for some reason, I was really interested in that. And I was really fascinated by The Fall's Hex Enduction Hour, too. I didn't really come to appreciate the music until much later on.
At the time, in about 1980, I was listening to Adam and the Ants. I never really liked the artwork on the album covers; I would draw imaginary covers for all of their album tracks for the first two records that weren't released as singles. I don't think anyone has ever seen them – my parents weren't very good at keeping my artwork. I was really obsessed with "Dirk Wears White Sox", which was the first Adam and the Ants record, and it is still my favourite of theirs. I never saw Adam and the Ants until November last year, years after I'd been obsessed with them.
I suppose you tend to make time for things that pay you a lot of money – but that doesn't seem to happen much these days, so I usually just do the things I really like. I'm doing a poster for Stuart [Braithwaite] from Mogwai who's involved in this campaign to save these standing stones in Glasgow [the Sighthill Stone Circle]. They're astronomically aligned and the fact that they were made in 1979 gives the city council the feeling that they're allowed to just demolish them and build a park rather than integrate them. They're culturally a very interesting, significant thing, and Stuart's dad was involved in making them.
In an ideal world it would be nice to completely separate the idea of having to make money from the idea of making artwork, but I suppose when you're a professional artist, one facilitates the other. But as long as you still get paid for something, you can do whatever you want.
Latitude, Henham Park, Southwold (latitudefestival.com) 18 to 21 July
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