They say that music has the power to transport us to new places, but every once in a while, you hear a piece that removes you from your senses entirely.
It's probably something you shouldn't listen to while driving.
And so it is with the music that inspired this piece. Dark, energetic lyrics with a killer guitar solo three quarters of the way through. I've got a pair of noise-suppressing headphones a lot like the ones in this piece that do a great job of putting that sound as close to my brain as possible, and to be honest, I zone out a little every time the song comes on. Picking apart each instrument and chord like thread, each one painting my ears with harmonious color, removing me from my present place for about sixteen headbanging seconds.
So I thought I'd try to capture that feeling.
Initially, it looked very different! I'm a human, so I drew a human, in awe and possibly crying. Or just. Gushing.
But I immediately saw problems, even just in sketching. It was too literal! Where's the abstraction? Also I
like my art to be relatable whenever possible; didn't want to deal with hair color or style, skin, gender. Music is universal, and since I'm trying to capture music... I needed something else. Something we all have.
Once again, the solution to my problems... was spooky scary skeletons.
We all have 'em. And with the hard rock inspiration... it just made sense. So once I had that, it really took off, but still had a bit of development to go through.
I knew I wanted rainbows, to represent the brilliance and that palette-mixing of sound, and I payed around with the more literal option again to have printed music incorporated into the piece... but then I'd have to worry about assigning rhythms, notes, and ACTUAL music. Not the vibe. The headphones should be and adequate enough indicator of music. I didn't want to use any visual instruments, then I'd be telling people what kind of music they should be hearing, instead of playing on their own experiences, whatever maybe sparked it. Maybe someone out there shreds on a ukulele or piccolo, who's to say.
So, headphones, skull, let's roll.
I settled on this 3/4s angle because A) didn't have to worry as hard about symmetry, and 2) it indicates a little life and movement, where straight on feels more poised.
The rainbow shrank because I felt like it was overwhelming the skull, especially once the face paint was added. I also initially wanted stars, more stars, ALL the stars, but... again, got to be too much in a hurry, so I toned it down. And I felt like having them on the tips of the rainbow was somehow limiting, even if it added a nice end point for the strokes. And this pieces is about NOT being limited. Kind of.
So after a little more noodling, I settled on the final piece.
I didn't have a great recording setup, otherwise I'd have more process videos. What I started with here was a gouache resist, which involves painting with gouache and washing it away. It gives it a nice, almost block print look, with gritty edges.
It also fades the color, because you're washing it away, which was a problem for this piece, leading me to repaint the color for vibrancy.
Kind of a pain.
Worth it though, I think! Pretty big fan of this piece, so of course I immediately made it into a sticker, which just involves removing the background in photoshop and sending it off to the shop.
But why stop there? As someone who loves decorating my concert jacket and would love to design music merch... I thought a fabric patch might be nice! So I did and it is, and you can buy them!
What does this piece mean to me? It's a snapshot of that ephemeral moment of musical euphoria.
Not unlike being delirious and dehydrated in the middle of a moshpit, as I found out recently. (I'm fine) Just lost in that sound and energy.
For some it's pianos, or guitars, or mood-drive synth. Hard rock or really complex classical melodies. What melts YOUR face?
Fun secret fact about this piece: The skull only has 23 teeth because it's modeled after my own mouth. Keen eyes will notice that it is missing a lateral incisor (on the 'far' side, beneath the blue drip of the nose), inspired by my own missing incisor that I had to have implanted because I never grew an adult tooth there!
Save 10% on all prints with code THEPROCESS, and right now save 20% on EVERYTHING with code BONEHEAD through 12.5.22
Rock on, dudes.