I started buying albums in the 70s and it was a great time for the cover artwork. I have to admit that was part of the attraction for me – those Hipgnosis and Roger Dean images grabbed my imagination. It was an essential aspect to enjoying an album for me.
By the time the Spines came to releasing our first record times had moved on, punk had struck and simplicity and a harder edge were to the fore. I’d already set the Spines “image” with the iconic poster – it had a post-cubist look and I figured I’d continue that onto the Fishing artwork.
We were only able to do black and white due to Ripper’s budget and that kind of limited what I could do but it also meant I could use half-tones and spray paint. I painted/drew the picture at full album size and that sharpened it up when it was reduced down to the 45 dimensions. I was quite pleased with it – it had a brooding quality and mystery that suited the music.
Next up we released the double-sided single Punch / Your Body Stays which was a 12 inch. For Punch I drew a Mr Punch that tailed down into an insanely grinning Judy. It was a striking if dark image so I made sure there was plenty of white overall. This was our last record for Ripper which was winding up and Bryan Staff gave me some of the leftover covers before he left for Auckland.
For Act You Age (on Jayrem) I took one of the Punch covers, turned it upside down and painted over it with partially opaque paint and then fashioned the Fool image that I’d been working on in my Tarot series of pastels a year previously. You can still see traces of the original peeking out from underneath.
I was able to use colour for the first time on our album The Moon. Unfortunately it was only one overlaid sickly red and I didn’t really understand the process. The drawing itself was a cartoon-style image of our producer Maurice driving us back to his place in Gisbourne after a recording session. There was a big full moon in the sky that night and it was the moment I decided on the album’s title.
When we went to Flying Nun for Idiot Sun, Roger let me use full colour on the front cover. I had done large oil and gold painting that I’d called “Jimi Hendrix’s Mother-In-Law” that I thought was perfect for the wild music the band was doing at the time. My flatmate at the time Charles took a series of photographs of the painting and one came out a bit overexposed – I really liked it and that wound up being the cover.
In the intervening years we’ve recorded three more albums and I’ve done one solo one as well. None of them were ever released though I did mock up art for most of them. So my thinking for our current release was to pick up where I left off with Idiot Sun and use one of my oil paintings.
I was up in Hamilton staying with mum over last Xmas. There is a painting of mine she’s always loved hanging in the lounge and I took a shot of it with my dodgy phone. The image came out blurred and a different colour than the original and it seemed perfect for Epidural…