9.13.2008

Phair's Phair.

Later career missteps aside, the frist two albums by Liz Phair, Whip-Smart and especially Exile in Guyville rank among my favorites ever. So, I was ecstatic to get a call from Kevin at the Boston Phoenix to provide a cover image for their Arts and Entertainment section hyping her performance of Exile in Guyville a few weeks ago in Beantown. I was also a little intimidated...when an illustration subject is something close to your heart, you feel an extra responsibility to really bring it, which for me always also brings a little extra pressure.

I wanted the illo to tie into the Exile in Guyville record in some direct way, since the show in Boston (and the tour) features Liz performing the entire album to celebrate it's fifteenth anniversary re-release. I went down the list of song titles, and immediately track 1 , "6'1"", jumped out at me. I thought about a shot of Liz, all sexy and defiant, standing in front of a police lineup wall. Simple and effective. But maybe too simple?



I sketched it out, and then another idea occurred to me...the second to last song on the record, "Stratford-on-Guy", is probably my favorite...where Liz sings very descriptively and atmospherically about being aboard a plane taking off at sunset, enjoying a drink as the lights of the city grid become visible through the opposite window. So I took that as inspiration and kinda illustrated that scene. But I thought it might be too much, too fannish...I know people familiar with the record might get it and dig it, but it might leave everybody else too much in the dust.



Kevin, knowing I was a fan, gave me carte blanche to go with whatever direction I thought was best...truly a thrill to know an art director has that much confidence in you. In the end, I decided to go back to my original idea, and I think the results are pretty swell. Hope you agree.

13 comments:

Bill Peschel said...

The first two illos didn't come up. Problem?

Reminds me to whip out my copy of the CD and give it a spin. Thanks.

Naz said...

Great Illustration, and yea sometimes simple is best.

trophiogrande said...

now I need to give those albums another listen. I have seen her concert twice, once with a band and once solo. You illo captures her early essence well.

Robert Ullman said...

Fixed! And thanks, guys!

HEK said...

Yup. The first instinct, and the final product, the best.

Anonymous said...

Hells yes! Good to hear of another old Liz fan who got off the bus with Whitechocolatespaceegg. And right on about "Stratford-On-Guy."

Anonymous said...

If you wouldn't have told me who it was, I wouldn't have guessed. And I like Liz Phair a lot.

strugglingwriter said...

That's so very cool Robert. Nice work here!

Paul

Robert Ullman said...

"If you wouldn't have told me who it was, I wouldn't have guessed. And I like Liz Phair a lot."

Yeah, as I've stated before, capturing a likeness is sometimes a tough go for me...if I'd have gone the straight caricature route, it might've been easier. Liz, despite the baggy eyes and buck teeth, is a knockout in real life, but her beauty is hard to capture using those features. I must've drawn that face 20 times!

I don't think it was entirely successful, but I feel like I managed to capture her attitude, at least...and truthfully, once that deadline hits, it's gotta go out the door, quibbles or not.

Still, thanks for the free art critique, "anonymous".

Percy Trout said...

Nice one.

Shannon Smith said...

Awe to da some. You nailed her strong chin. (That sounds wrong. You done drawed it real good.)

Johnny Coelacanth said...

Exile in Guyville was the soundtrack to my life for about six months solid when it first came out. Best album of that year, one of the best albums of the '90s.

There are too many good songs to name 'favorite' but I'm listening to "Divorce Song" now.

Great stuff. Great work on the illo, too.

William & Polly said...

I like how she stands 6'1"