Illustrator Mark Todd’s series of fake records plays upon the familiar tropes of cover design but interprets them into his own characterful style. Initially, Mark was never a big collector of records since his taste for music started in the early 80s when cassettes were all the rage. “After my grandfather-in-law passed away a few years ago I inherited his record collection. He was a radio station owner in Texas,” say Mark. “Soon after my dad gave me his old LPs. I found a turntable at a yard sale and started listening to them.”
Mark’s collection grew when he began searching local thrift shops for more gems and the illustrator started redrawing the vintage covers and posting them on Instagram, detailing why he loved particular covers or albums. After self-publishing a book of his reproductions called The Daily Record, Mark’s gallery, the Webb Gallery in Texas, suggested he did an entire show of record covers. “I liked the idea but decided it would be even better if I created fake album art, rather than just redraw and stylise existing records,” he explains.
Starting by referencing his own record collection, Mark has created the fake bands and album names by pulling technical phrases from existing records and using the font of another. “I want the records to feel as real as possible, but I’m not interested in trying to trick the viewer into thinking that these are real,” Mark says. “My style tends to feel a bit raw and casual and I like that approach mixed with the formal aspects of an album’s design. For the names and song titles I try to think fast and not dwell on what I am writing. Funny words or phrases just pop into my head. I usually try to imagine what genre the album might be from.”
The illustrator’s style is loose with clear mark-making and a grungy colour palette that depicts intriguing characters. “Although I went to school for art, I have always tried to keep the feel of how a teen with a bit of talent might draw, paint and see the world,” explains Mark. This naivety is a perfect contrast to the confines of the album cover format, as Mark’s handwritten titles sit lopsided and the perspective of logomarks and musicians is skew-whiff but purposeful.
The records are painted onto 12 inch birch plywood and, without sketching first, Mark starts by painting a solid colour background followed by the text. “From there I start thinking about composition. I try not to overthink it or get bogged down with ideas. Often things are painted and new ideas grow from there and I’m usually starting multiple pieces at once,” the illustrator explains.
His covers are currently on show at the Webb Gallery and Mark hopes viewers see this series as more than a collection of fakes. “Much of my work deals with humour on its surface but I have also always tried to capture a certain melancholy and memory of the past,” says the illustrator. “For a long time now, I have realised that when you put your own personal stories and memories into the work, it resonates and connects in a universal way.”
Mark Todd’s fake records show Don’t Go To Hell Without Saying Goodbye is on now at the Webb Gallery, until 2 June 2017.
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