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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Rock shirts

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Arriving in the post at the end of last week was this T-shirt for British Doom band The Wounded Kings. The Shadow Over Atlantis (2010) was the band’s second album, and they asked permission a while ago to use my Cthulhuesque De Profundis piece on this limited edition shirt. Permission was granted happily enough, my only concern was that the fine detail and dark tones might not reproduce well on black fabric. The printing is remarkably good, however, and the circular design and type layout works very well. The shirts are on sale here.

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All of which reminded me that I have a couple of shirts from the Hawkwind era in the 1980s. I’ve not aired these designs before, mainly because the Earth Ritual design is one of my many pieces of Hawk-art that I find amateurish. I used to put considerable effort into the cover designs (some of them, anyway; a few were pieces of art sent to Dave Brock as samples that were later used as official covers); but much of the art I produced for the tour programs and merchandise was done in haste, and should have been a lot better considering it was being used for costly souvenirs.

Earth Ritual was the title of an EP released in 1984 that was notable for having Lemmy as guest bassist, his first appearance on a Hawkwind record after being sacked from the band in 1975. I did the cover for that one but I don’t like it very much. The 1984 tour was named after the EP, hence the shirt, although the show was nothing remotely like the elaborate Space Ritual concept. The triangle with a bar on the skull is the alchemical symbol for Earth, a detail the band used in their stage set. I’ve never liked that skull which is very badly drawn, I’d have been better off using a photocopy of the skull on this drawing from the same year. The design was drawn in black ink on white paper; I had no say in the colouring which was done by the merchandise company. From the same drawing they also made small enamel badges (where the skull looks even worse!), and a sew-on patch which looks much better since they dispensed with the skull.

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This was the shirt design for the 1985 tour, one of the final designs for the Chronicle of the Black Sword project, and one of the very last pieces I did for Hawkwind. The design of this one is a little more successful although once again the colours weren’t my choice.

These aren’t the only shirts I’ve done for the music world, in addition to other occasional work for metal bands I produced many exclusive designs for Cradle of Filth from 2001–2005 but they never sent me any of those. To return to De Profundis, I ought to note that the artwork is available as a print from CafePress.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cosmic Grill
Void City
Hawk things
The Sonic Assassins
New things for July
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

 


 

Posted in {art}, {design}, {music}, {work}.

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3 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Phil

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    I really like the ‘amateurish’ skull – feels like to sort of rough-around-the-edges space-biker folk-art! It’d make a great patch!

    The colours and boldness of the Black Sword design are making me insanely nostalgic for ZX-Spectrum loading screens. :)

    P

  2. #2 posted by The joey Zone

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    A bit of a Grail Quest no doubt, but now I NEED to find a wearable copy of The Black Sword tee–colours and design (lettering reminiscent of the elongated title for HAUNTER OF THE DARK) are really rather fine.

  3. #3 posted by John

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    Phil: Thanks. As it happens I spent much of the mid-80s playing with a Spectrum, and used it to make my first pieces of computer art.

    Joe: Yes, there’s a crossover between the Black Sword designs and the Lovecraft strips. The lettering was derived from Celtic styles via George Bain’s book about Celtic art.

 


 

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