I put a good deal of time, thought, and work into the artwork for this EP, so I thought it might be fun to take you through a visual tour of the creative process.
The title for this album, Lies Worth Telling came from a line in "Hold Me Down":
what do you want from me
if you're buying I'm selling
from a suitcase of misery
and lies worth telling
With those lyrics in mind, I wanted to come up with an image that was appealing, yet a little uncomfortable or off-putting, maybe even grotesque. I didn't have specifics in mind, but that root thought led me toward a few different branches: perversions of wholesome images, distortions of reality, exaggerations of everyday things, and corruption.
So, here we go, in loose chronological order (keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive; there were other images I'd rather not share):
In terms of corrupting something wholesome, nothing is more wholesome than Norman Rockwell. My idea was that the runaway kid would be bribing the cop not to take him back home, but at some point, it felt like that was too much story to work into a single image.
This was going to be the 2nd of 4 Rockwell variations. In the original Rockwell image, the girl is staring at herself in the mirror, comparing herself to a celebrity in a magazine. I added the element of self-harm, because it's something that comes up a lot in my full-time gig at a foster care agency. I really thought that the image Rockwell created is perfectly relevant to us, decades later, but it felt too dark.
The 3rd idea was a variation of Rockwell's thanksgiving table, where the family is served snakes instead of turkey. Never got around to sketching that one.
This here is a literal suitcase of misery... at least for me: lust (the woman holding the case), addiction, promises of wealth (a rubber palm tree which didn't really "read" very well), and formalized education.
At the end of the day, this just reminded me too much of a certain gameshow.
A distortion of a mother's love: The creation of life by non-life; a robot designed for nothing more than to create another robot.
I envisioned a series of these images: a robotic grandfather reading a bed-time story to a bunch of toasters, computers, and microwaves, all seated around a fake fireplace... and a robotic variation of the suitcase girl who would be offering items of vice from her stomach cavity. At some point, the idea got away from me. I'm not sure why.
A lie splits the world into two parts: the original world (what really happened), and the false world created by the lie. They pull at each other, but go nowhere, and fight endlessly in the heart of the liar. This is also a lose/lose situation in that neither outcome is appealing: tell the truth and reveal the lie, or live the lie and fear that the truth will eventually be discovered.
A revision of the lie-zard. This was the first image I showed to the band. They all felt the lettering was too difficult to read.
Another revision: Changed the lettering around, but a small focus group at Matt's workplace read the title as, "life worth telling," "it's worth telling," and even "pies worth smelling." I hit my head on a desk repeatedly after hearing that last one.
Out of frustration, I went a different way. I kept the lie-zard(s), but added in a character who was cradling a flame. I was thinking a lot about "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, which contains a dialogue between a father and a son who are both struggling to survive (the father speaks first):
"You have to carry the fire."
"I don't know how to."
"Yes, you do."
"Is the fire real? The fire?"
"Yes it is."
"Where is it? I don't know where it is."
"Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it."
That conversation interwove with my idea of Lies Worth Telling. We're surrounded by chaos, fear, risk, darkness, and pain, but most of us tell ourselves that we have to keep going at any cost. We try to keep the "fire" alive.
Only problem was: the band wasn't feeling it.
This was, for lack of a better term, brain vomit. I was frustrated by the creative process and just started drawing. It evolved into a maze that didn't go anywhere, metaphorically and literally.
I kept getting pulled back toward the lie-zard(s). I decided to take a more 3-D approach to the idea... which turned pretty dark. Never showed it to the band.
The final comp for the front cover. Used some pre-existing fonts to solve the legibility issue, threw it on a canvas texture/colored background, and based on Darren's suggestion, added some color to the tongues. Ta Da.