I recently had the opportunity to work with Green Day for an album cover that will be released this Saturday for Record Store Day. It was such a fun, quick, back-and-forth collaboration that I thought I’d write a quick process blog about how it came to be.
So, I got a call from Mike Dirnt on a Wednesday morning while I was driving to the comic shop. We were talking about comics and stuff (he’s a fan of Henry & Glenn!), and then he mentioned that they have a record coming out for Record Store Day and “We don’t have a cover yet. Do you wanna do it?”
“Uh… HELL YEAH!”
“Okay, cool… I’ll get you more info tomorrow.”
Thursday Mike calls back and we start chatting about ideas for the artwork and then he mentions: “…and we need it by Monday. Is that possible?”
“Uhhhh… suuuurrrrre?” 3 days… YIKES… ”I mean – YES!”
Side-note: I apologize for the low quality of the pictures below – they were all taken from my phone to send to Mike via text…
So, I quickly dashed off three EXTREMELY rough thumb-nail sketches and texted them to Mike. The first was based on Mike’s original idea of a skeleton chomping on a record going with the title “Demolicious.” The second variation is a skeletal version of the band chomping on records. The third option, I took a different take on “Demolicious” thinking of how it sounds like “Demolish Us” and did a quick sketch of a mess of bones, guitars, records, garbage… like a Green Day hoarder house exploded. I knew that would be the most complicated one to draw, but it might also be the most fun… but with 3 days, I hoped they’d pick the easiest: option #1.
They picked the most complicated one. Time to buy some coffee and go into the drawing cave…
I started with just a skull and a pile of guitars and records, but I immediately made it more complicated for myself by getting more elaborate and soon spread the cover to the back cover in one giant junkyard scene… Mike and the GD crew, who were still in the studio assembling their part of the record release, gave their approvals via texting back and forth with me.
At this point, I asked Mike if there were any specific things that I could throw into the pile of junk. He mentioned maybe a reference to E.B.P.M. and a “fucked up teddy bear…” but otherwise just “keep doin’ what you’re doin’!” So, I mined the lyrics for other things to add and added more details…
Pencils complete. Time for my favorite part – INK!
For art-geeks: People often ask me what brushes I use. I used to be precious about that and I really liked Isabey series 6228 #3 and 4 watercolor brushes. But these days I tend to find different tools for different projects. The majority of this drawing was done with these fairly cheap Royal “Soft Grip” liner and watercolor brushes. I like the rubber grip. And the bristles get kinda crappy after a while and that’s when I really start to like the lines they produce. And if ink nerds are reading, I use Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte india ink. And This is on Strathmore 300 series cold press watercolor paper. And that’s coffee to keep me going for the next 2 days…
So, sometime around Saturday afternoon, with the deadline on Monday, I start inking…
All the while texting back and forth with Mike for approvals… “Awesome… Keep going…!”
Phone rings… record scratch… “Um… So, Billie was wondering if it’s too late to change the guitar you drew on the cover. Is that possible?”
Whoops! Google fail! I did google Billie-Joe’s guitar, but I guess I didn’t find the right one. Mike sent over some pics of the correct guitars. Pro-tip – Don’t rely on google for your references, kids! It’s always better to work from life.
Thanks to trusty old liquid paper (actually I used some white gouache) I fixed the guitar and Billie-Joe approved!
ONWARD- It’s Saturday at 2:48 pm and you’ve got to finish inking and coloring and laying out the package design…
On Sunday at 5:21 pm I am DONE with the inking!
I scanned it into my computer and began blocking in the rough colors until my eyes were too blurry to keep going. Kristina Collantes, whom I have been collaborating with on many projects lately, volunteered to help me so I could get some sleep. She finished the preliminary color schemes while I took a nap.
By Monday morning, with the help of the band’s feedback, we decided on this final color scheme and the all that was left was the layout of the track list and credits:
The whole process was a race, but it was a great challenge. The back-and-forth collaboration with Mike over the phone was a fun experience. And knowing that they were also in the studio rushing to finish the mastering for the record fueled me along the way. They are great guys and I hope to work with them again. I’m extremely proud of this record cover.
So, please head out to your local record store for Record Store Day and pick up Green Day : Demolicious! I’ll likely be hanging out at my neighborhood shop Vacation Vinyl and they might have a few copies signed by me.
And while you’re at it, you should also pick up another record I did the cover for that coincidentally was released this week: The Groovie Ghoulies “Flying Saucer Rock-n-Roll!”