So, last week was my 29th birthday (eek!) and my boyfriend decided to give me something that we have been talking about ever since we met nearly 5 years ago.
In 2009 I designed a series of vector-based portraits to celebrate some of the big musical icons. This was one of my projects when doing my MA in Leeds, and reflected my love for both music & typography. The idea behind the project was to take the most characteristic part of the person and recreate it using hand-drawn letters by using one of their most memorable sentence from their songs. By using bold colours and elements I associated with the musician I tried to interpret their person in a minimalistic style. I wanted to show as little as possible, just enough for them to be recognisable. A big part of the designs was the negative space, which helped the icons come alive.
Pop art made a big impact on me when creating these illustrations. Artists such as Andy Warhol & Roy Lichtenstein inspired me to look at everyday life and to dare to focus on the simple things. I was fascinated by the clearness, irony & attitude of pop art, and the use of flat bold colours to get peoples attention.
When we met we bonded over the love of music and creativity, and talked a lot about the possibility of creating t-shirts and branded elements using my designs. It was something we both thought was a great idea but never had the time to fully explore, so now my boyfriend thought it was time.
So with the help of some of his friends he got some samples printed, and even created some labels with my branding on to show me how my music icons can come to life. I love the result, and think it’s such a lovely & inspiring gift!
I’ll share the results below with a brief explanation for each design.
DAVID BOWIE ‘CH-CH-CHANGES’
This was the first design I created, and what started the whole project. When doing a portrait of David Bowie in the minimalistic style that I wanted to achieve, the classic image of him as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust was the perfect starting point. His big, red mullet hair frames it all together and is on it’s own a big characteristic part of his image at that time. By adding just one more element, the lightning makeup, the image still has a simple feel to it but has enough elements added to be recognisable. I used a phrase from the song ‘Changes’, and shaped it to fit the shape of the lightning emphasising it by using the two original colours from his makeup. I wanted the typography to be a bit playful and ‘all over the place’ to show his personality, but still readable and clear.
JOHN LENNON ‘IMAGINE THERE’S NO HEAVEN’
John Lennon had a peaceful and relaxed aura about him, and I tried to capture this in his portrait. Lennon had a lot of different hairstyles over the years, and I chose the shorter and more groomed look he had around the time he released ‘Imagine’. The most characteristic thing about him was of-course his round glasses, so I used them to draw a sentence from ‘Imagine. The shape & style of the hand-drawn letters has a natural and organic feel to indicate his believes and person.
MADONNA ‘LIKE A VIRGIN’
To make the portrait of Madonna recognisable I used her style from the 80s, with her big blonde hair and bold make-up from the time. I also added her beauty mark to make sure that it wouldn’t look like Blondie’s Debbie Harry. The words ‘Like a Virgin’ is drawn in the shape of her eyeshadow to indicate where her eye is and to balance out the illustration. The hair is messy and lively, much like her image and personality at that time.
Thank you Claudio for the most perfect birthday gift – you are the best!