I actually see this image as being optimistic; I’ve been told by others that they interpret it… differently.
The previous month, my first album, The Ray Mann Three, had been “softly” released – that is, we hadn’t officially announced it was out there yet; that was to happen the following month, with our Sydney album launch show and subsequent 30-date national tour – the first time the band had ever left Sydney.
So this design was generated in between these two pretty major events. What I see happening in this design is this: three explorers entering a cave, venturing bravely into the unknown… space explorers, probably. It looks like a galaxy in the background behind them. For some reason they have ’50s-austronaut-style bubble helmets – perhaps they end up go-go dancing with the sexy aliens they encounter…
However, at the first Ray Mann: Art Exhibition (Sydney, September 2009), in the context of the other prints where black line work was kept to a minimum, folks were like: “Ooh, this one’s a bit… dark, innit?” They saw all the heavy scribbling as closing in around the three figures. Here’s me at that exhibition, responding to said folks: “Wha…? What do you mean it looks dark? Look, it’s a torch! He’s shedding light! … see?”:
Part of the reason I feel this design is perhaps warmer than others see it is the personal nostalgia factor. I was channeling the comic books I loved reading in my childhood when creating this. As a teenager (and again very recently as a, heh, “grown up”) I became all about the “serious” graphic novels; but as a younger kid, I was well into my comics-based-on-cartoons-based-on-toys: Transformers, G.I. Joe (especially the occasional Transformers vs. G.I. Joe limited edition!).
Up to the early ’90s, newsstand-edition comics were still printed on cheap paper, and black ink was applied very thinly – so you could easily see the overprint where the colourist had messily coloured into some of the black. I tried to emulate that with the colours here: you can clearly see the outlines of the blocks of blue colour that don’t neatly fill in the area delineated by the thinly-applied black line; and the torchlight falling on the ground just a big messy slab of overprint colour.
This was the first – and, to date, the only – design where I actually drew in the border as part of the sketch, Normally, I let the background colour determine the outside margin. The sketch just kind of popped out, and I liked it exactly as it was, so I didn’t want to mess with it just to keep this flyer design strictly in line with the others.
The original sketch was tiny – this, on your screen, give or take your resolution, is roughly the actual size it was in my little A5 sketchbook. Most of my sketches are quite small, both because my sketchbook is small (for more mobility), and because drawing large intimidates me a bit. It takes longer to get one idea out, proportions get warped; and I find that often the little thumbnail sketch will have some quality to it that is lost once I try to redraw it at a larger size.
I’ve also reconstructed a dummy version of the original website splash page from this month as well.