Archive for July, 2014

Records, cassettes and my childhood memories are back

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Thanks to the guys from Rest in Haste, who have invited me to illustrate their cassette and record covers with my drawings, I have renewed my interest on two cultural artifacts from my childhood that are experiencing a renaissance in music today: records and cassettes. It turns out that the relatively primitive technologies and processes required to produce and distribute music and other sound-based media using records and cassettes offer a viable —and affordable— alternative to the digital formats and distribution channels that have become the mainstream standard over the last decade. It turns out a garage band can afford to produce a 100 cassette edition or a 500 record edition for very little money, and these precious items are welcome in local venues.

To me, visiting a local record store and listening to some tapes and records while I talk to other people in the store is a more effective strategy to discover new musicians that I like. I have been finding some of my favorite music this way, and I am completely positive I would have never found any of it from my friends playlists, or any of my social media feeds, or from amazon or itunes or spotify recommendations. My musical life would not know about Boris, Oake, Thee Oh Sees, Oneida, Blonde Red Head, Harassor, Author-Punisher, and The Elevator Drops, just to mention a few of them.

Of course, I had to get a record player and a cassette player again. I haven’t had any of those since I got my hands on a CD player/burner. I was quick to abandon the fragile vinyl and the magnetic tape as soon as a “better” playback/recording alternative came about. Ironically, CDs faced the same fate at the hands of the web, hard drives and mobile phones. I havent really had used a CD in probably ten years. I have a hunch even CDs are going to face some kind of resurgence within the next few years, and VHS tapes too!

Note: I have a flickr album where I collect all kinds of high-res images in connection to my work with Rest in Haste. The cassette sleeves and promotional posters for The Realistic Sounds of Rest in Haste were printed by Kudla Press in the Czech republic using a Risograph printer.

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El Billar de Lucrecia & Cielo Abierto

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

I have been designing poetry book collections for a while now. I started in 2005, when Rocío Cerón invited me to design a collection dedicated to showcase latin american poets born in the 1970s. We called the collection El Billar de Lucrecia and decided to pair each book with each one of the 15 different billiard balls in a perfect bijection of number and color. Only 15 titles were going to be produced. Inspired by the Roman tragedy of Lucretia, I created a female avatar for the collection, a shadow-woman that came back from death to avenge injustice against women. My fantasy super heroine hasn’t made it to the pages of a comic book, but she elegantly decorates the colorful sleeves of every book in the collection.

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After the fifteenth book was published and the collection was closed, Rocío proposed me to design a new collection with a completely different set of curatorial rules. This time Rocío’s intention was to create pairs of territories (cities, countries) and get poets living in different territories of the same pair to translate each other. Each pair would become a book and each pair would always feature a Spanish-speaking territory, thus making sure the collection connects world poetry through the Spanish Language.

This relatively convoluted formula inspired me to devise a similar mechanic to produce the art for the covers. Once I had defined a design template and style, I decided to invite a new artist for every book, send them a couple of notes about the book and a color and ask them for a black and white drawing featuring a human subject. Once I got back the drawing from them, I would design a graphical pattern to finish the book, using the color I had sent them. We called the collection Cielo Abierto to honor the geographical space in which airplanes are held beyond the influence of specific national interests, and gave it a logo representing an airplane reflected in the surface of a human eye.

The books feature drawings by Demián Flores, Ernesto Morales Campero, Luis Alberto Becerril Fonseca and Utamaro García, who made the drawings for the last two books.

I am not sure we will still be publishing any more books for Cielo Abierto. It seems the logistics involved in coordinating so many poets across the world have taken a toll on Rocío and her small team —five after all is a pretty good number for a mini collection of global poetry. I am ready to make more, but I can easily jump into some new thing. Only time will tell.

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