Thursday, 3 January 2008

Mark Roland and the Buzz For Aldrin cover

Buzz For Aldrin front sleeve different lettering
Bob Tibbitts" Mark Roland painted the original art for Buzz ; I designed the cd as a whole and added the other bits like the main background (pale blue areas). I took photos of my hi-fi speakers, guitar and headphones lead, some outside photos to get the bi-plane, twigs and sea, added song titles. Mark also painted other specific Buzz characters to my brief (like the surfing Buzz on his guitar). I added the 'facerock' pics of the crew and placed them inside the open Buzz helmet that MR created and also combined other wonderful psych art pieces painted by Mark Roland into the cd jewelcase design. It was the first time I had worked with a professional artist but between us came up with what is now the Buzz For Aldrin artwork"

Mark Roland
Since the mid-seventies Mark Roland has been sharing his imaginative works in exhibits throughout the United States including several museum shows, and in published works, including books, portfolios, magazines and the gaming industry. He was one of the original staff artists and art director of "Magical Blend Magazine" in the 1980s and continued that decade with numerous shows at California's Illuminarium/Isis gallery, the preeminent Visionary Art gallery. In addition to his paintings, he has mastered the medium of etching; one example from his "EnchantedForest" series is visable in the right side of the photo. He currently lives in Eugene, Oregon

The White Ship by Mark Roland

Arborial Palladium by Mark Roland

The Moon Pool by Mark Roland

Tranquility by Mark Roland

Another lettering variation for the front cover

Mark Roland"I first heard about the Pillbugs in 2004 on the XTC Forum, in an enthusiastic post that described them as"Very melodic cartoonish nu-psychedelia . . . with references to Beatles, Zappa, Association, StrawberryAlarm Clock, ELO, Queen etc." I ordered "The Pillbugs"and "3-D" cds and was soon convinced that they were the the best contemporary psych-pop band around, known or obscure. I immediately wanted to do some artwork for them.

Unused disc design

The previous albums had already used some of the classic visual approaches, with the surreal group portraits ofthe first two cds and the Hipgnosis-like concept photo of "Happy Birthday." I thought the artwork, while good, was just not as exciting as the music was, as the great musical-visual synthesis of the 60s suggested it could be. Growing up in San Francisco and being 13 in 1967, my own influences were the psychedelic poster artists and the designer/illustrators of album covers and books. Staring at trippy images on the walls or in your hands was the perfect accompaniment to the music melting in your mind. So why not now? Sure we have videos and the rest, but why not give the fan a beautiful object to enjoy, instead of clip art or something that bears no relationship to the music inside?

above-unused cover variation below-early idea sketches

I got involved with the Pillbugs Messageboard and another fan, Barb Petersen, forwarded some of my work to Mark Mikel. He responded by writing a flattering post about it and a dialogue was begun. Bob Tibbitts,who did design work for "Happy Birthday" joined in and together we decided to make the next cd package a major statement, sparing no effort, and perhaps it would almost be as good as the music this time.

Mark sent me a rough version of "Buzz" on CDR and I was floored. This was even better than the previous stuff,the music, the themes all interconnected in the tradition of albums like Smile, Sgt Pepper, Forever Changes and Dark Side of the Moon. I did a number of rough sketches and sent them to Bob, who selected two. I made colour roughs of those; one became the front cover and the other was the origin of the larger complex piece the "Buzz Codex."

The cover went very quickly, except for my habit of adding details to discover over time. This time it was the faces in the rocks that formed the planetary ring. First it was the band members and then I kept going, they are not specific people just beings that inhabit the Monclovian universe

Aldrin is either in space dreaming he is on Earth, or is on Earth dreaming he is in space; he is a confused dude, like many of my generation.The larger piece was conceived as a fold-out poster that would have all the lyrics on the back. I had to pull out all the stops for this and it took many hours and revisions to get it down. The conception I had was all the characters and scenarios were in Aldrin's head. His friends and girlfriend became unreal and distant and Mark had commented about the space between us being greater than outer space, so while I used the space(cadet) suited character to represent him, it was more about his mental space, memories, dreams and hallucinations than a literal Science Fiction world.

Codex in a very preliminary stage

All along Bob and I wondered if there would be some kind of production issue with the poster, and tried to make sure it would be do-able. In the end, with the music finished, it was determined that it had to be reformatted as a booklet. Bob still had more spaces to fill and he kept requesting more bits of art, figures of Aldrin, backgrounds etc. We did collaborations for the cd well art and back cover, with elements of my art, even older images montaged together by Bob to make something new. I don't think the artwork rises to the level of the music, but we did our best and I am proud to be part of the major musical event that is "Buzz For Aldrin." "

Poster Back

Original rough for the front cover

all original art work copyright controlled and posted with the kind permission of Mark Roland

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