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.