Think about the sheer amount of books, articles, lectures and podcasts there must be floating around the earth on what makes a good record sleeve. We tend to consult designers, or record labels about the images that, thrown against sound, create something that sticks with you your whole life, that you could probably draw from memory. It’s rare when get an artist who creates the music and the artwork that makes it shine, but Tim Presley does.
LA-based Tim is the man behind White Fence, which is some of the best music you’ll probably hear today, and he recently created the artwork for his imminent album that’s got everyone talking. Turns out Tim used to be – and kind of still is – a designer, which is probably why the White Fence artwork has been consistently brilliant since their first release. Tim very kindly agreed to speak with us about creativity, sound, vision, and the new sleeve that everyone’s talking about.
I know everyone seems to be talking about the cover of For The Recently Found Innocent, but could you tell me briefly about how that painting came about?
That painting was kind of accidental. Originally I was trying to make an abstract painting, and then it morphed into a human face, and then I think it started to resemble me. What a fucking narcissist! I can’t do anything without it resembling my beautiful face. When I make cake it resembles me too. Which is weird because when I look in the mirror I see a dickhead. But seriously, yeah, that’s the story. Kyle from King Tuff and I were joking and thought Accidental Self Portrait would’ve been a good album name. But then I thought record snobs would think it was a piss take on Dylan’s self portrait.
How often do you paint?
It all depends if my cat will allow it.
When you hear or play music, do you naturally start to visualise things in your mind?
Not always. But a good song or album will do that.
How important is artwork for a band, and do you think it truly can affect the way people hear the music within?
I think it’s very important. It can be a window to the imagination or brain of the musician/band. Or a hint at what you should be seeing while listening.
How much freedom do artists get when it comes to how the record looks, and should that change?
100% freedom. I don’t really hang out with huge rock stars on demanding major labels, so I don’t really know.
To me the artwork for Family Perfume and Is Growing Faith looks exactly how the music sounds, even though they are visually so different to For The Recently Found Innocent. Can you tell me about the artwork for those albums?
I don’t really know what to say about that. But I remember wanting those to be simple for some reason.
I know it seems like an obvious question, but I’d really like to know which other artwork from now or past periods of time and genres you think is particularly great
I’ve always liked Gee Vaucher’s collage’s for Crass. Also work by Raymond Pettibon, and Elizabeth Peyton’s paintings. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Francesca Woodman and her photos. She was the last artist to make me want to make art and music.
What music are you into at the moment?
Alice Coltrane Turiya Sings. And of course Painter man by Creation.