Rest in peace Mr. Eno. Thank you for designing such crazy games.
Radiohead was right: Meeting people is easy.
Meeting people that you can get along with, however, is a whole other story.
I’m playing Chrono Trigger for the third time. Amazing how this game gets even better each time I revisit it over the years. Pretty much the finest game Square ever developed.
It also has one of the biggest and hilarious mindfuck moments in the videogame history, in my opinion. I know it’s supposed to make total sense from the plot perspective, but still…
Gotta love this game.
Akai Scaramuccia on Flickr.
The album art for This Lonely Crowd’s Pervade is the biggest and longest project I’ve worked on so far, having taken almost five months from start to finish —eight, if you count the conceiving part. This article is coming a bit late, but there are some things about the project that I’d like to talk about and share.
Looking back at January 2012, days before the release of Doppeldanger, the band was already sharing with me the initial details about their next album —just for the record, I still find astonishing how fast This Lonely Crowd works. The main theme had already been decided by then, in form of a question: “How do blind people dream?”
For the album art, this meant a need for a drastic departure from the more objective, not-too-obvious-but-self-descriptive visuals of Pareidolia and Doppeldanger —which also featured photography by the band member then known as Red Queen. Indeed, the band and I agreed on an entirely new concept, starting with the design part, which would be asymmetrical. Also, the Braille system would be used for names and titles. However, there was a catch: the band wanted me to work on this concept with a richer, perceptive (simply put, pervading) art direction, instead of my previous minimalist (and completely symmetric) approaches. Which was exactly the opposite I expected when I read that question. And before I could even start thinking on how to illustrate a “blind dream”, first I needed some understanding of what it is, and that alone was already no easy task.
In June, after some extensive reading about the subject (I can’t thank the band enough for helping me with this), the way that I understood, is that blind people dream in an entirely different, perceptual, limited—and limitless at the same time— way than people with sight do. Their understanding of what a “dream” is like is also completely different. People born blind only “dream” of sensations, feelings, anxieties. People who have lost sight at some point of their lives still “dream” like they used to, but the “images” (actually, their memories of them) will eventually turn into colorless textures, until they fade away, leaving only those sensations, feelings and anxieties.
Work officially began in July, on a pace I’d call creatively and artistically frustrating. I was able to create almost nothing and anything else I did I discarded. Things got better in August, when I created the first piece of art I’d call decent. And even though I’m not really fond of it now, it’s a piece the band liked and was used in the first flyer I designed for the album, to which people paid attention. So I remain proud.
(Those familiar with Braille will notice that I screwed up on the “Coming Soon” part. Oh, well…)
It was also in August that I listened to some unfinished tracks from the album and was able to start making my own personal interpretation of it, which hugely helped my creative process, since I need this personal connection with the subject when I’m doing an artwork based on it. This also brought me to the realization that I simply wouldn’t be able to properly illustrate the “blind dream” on a literal way, without compromising that connection. What I did instead, was turn the album art into an extension of my own sensations, feelings and anxieties I was experiencing at the time. And express them as textured, living figureless images desperately trying to turn into humanly recognizable figures, but ultimately failing at it. As if someone was trying to imagine things they are unable to see or make sense out of.
Even though this time I had free reign over the creative process, I wasn’t sure the band would be pleased with my new idea (and what would come out of it). However, it ended up being the right decision and the right direction for the project, because the band actually approved the cover art without the need for changes or alternate versions —I don’t recall any similar case happening before.
The cover art was seemingly done by September, though I felt I needed to work on it a little bit more by November, when the project was finished (just in time for the album release!). With the cover art approved and the album completed, the band unveiled one side of the cover along with the tracklisting in this flyer:
Very early in the project, the band suggested that I designed the cover in a way that there’s no “right” front or back side. The cover art for Pervade is not a simple product design - it’s the visual representation of the album, the two segments that it has, the two chapters of the story, the first and the second half of songs. When one looks at the cover art, one is already “seeing” the album, but one will only start to interpret or comprehend it after, of course, listening to it.
This concept is also linked with something about sight and perceptions that I noticed while working and reflecting about some recent personal events: when we see something, anything, we’re already seeing a lot more than we think we are, and it may take a long while until we are able to understand all of what we’re seeing. A person blessed with sight already sees things as they really are. But at the very best what one is able to understand are just interpretations, points of view. No “right” way, sometimes horribly “wrong” ways, but definitely unique - and sometimes, I hope, special.
The other pieces of artwork you see on the album sleeve, label and insert *could* be what is hidden behind the cover art; the beginning and the end of a journey; dreams that didn’t go so well; nightmarish anxieties; people that lose sight of each other in their lives. But in the end, those pieces are one hundred percent open for interpretation, remaining as part of the uniquely personal experiences each listener (and viewer) will have with the album.
Over the course of four months, to the best of my knowledge and abilities, I aimed to make my graphic work on Pervade a deep visual experience for everyone. Though I still don’t really know if I succeeded, since there has been no public feedback so far! [laughs] But the band is pleased, so that alone is a great feeling.
The band and I, we really hope that you listen to Pervade and see something special that only you can see; and that wherever you go, you speak of it with love.
Julian “Nightingale” Fisch
Those who wish to purchase the limited CD edition may contact the band and name their own price.
I’m too old and tired for stupid one month adventures.
I need a partner. Not a shitty, half-assed, pseudo-girlfriend that blows everything up at the first sign of a disagreement.
CHROMATICS “CHERRY” (by AlbertoRossini)
~Cherry can be very sweet when she needs a friend~