Best Music of 2011

Year in Art 2011

on December 20, 2011, 12:00am
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2011 collection Year in Art 2011

A true sin in this world is ignoring art. But we do. Our world works too fast. Our eyes have too big of stomachs. We digest without reflecting. We rely on our subconscious to dig deeper. This is life in the modern world. Our main priority: time. There is no greater asset. Though, here’s a piece of irony: A real piece of art is a physical representation of time. So, what’s our excuse? Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer. Just an introduction, really.

Here’s the real meat: A couple years ago, I tapped my closest friend Cap Blackard to direct the art here on Consequence of Sound. In our four-plus year existence, the site’s never looked better, and he’s to credit for that. This doesn’t surprise me, though. In fact, you could say that was my plan all along.

Fun fact: In sixth grade, the two of us attended an incredibly pretentious private school, where art was restricted to the art room. Style didn’t exist, only uniforms. Despite these stuffy restrictions, Cap went on to win the top art award at the end of the academic year. Sitting there in the pew (yes, a church pew) watching him receive the award, I remember feeling both happy and slightly envious. I was stoked for my best friend, but, hey, it was sixth grade and I wanted a trophy, too. After all, my earlier days in tee ball didn’t necessarily stock my bookshelves with gold.

Instead, I became one of his biggest fans, and over the years, I’ve closely watched Cap grow as an artist. These days, it’s hard to keep up. He never stops creating. To quote the late Kyle Reese, “That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him!” To help with the workload, he’s tagged some exceptional talent. His assistant (and CoS Senior Staff Writer) Drew Litowitz came in with a full house of cards, submitting a couple of this year’s best works. While his other associates have also produced some fantastic pieces, as well.

So, don’t be a sinner. Take a goddamn minute out of your day, and soak up the art – all 30 pieces (complete with liner notes).

-Michael Roffman

The Decemberists

decemberists feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

I love The Decemberists and was glad to get a chance to do something around their latest release. Not having a chance to listen to the album I went off what I knew. I’d heard that the title The King is Dead may be a reference to The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead. I adapted the Smiths album cover to instead feature Decemberists front man Colin Meloy and added in a yellow forest background as seen on the Decemberists cover, re-staging the somewhat romantic posturing as a like-wise romantic wistful forest reclining. -Cap Blackard

Bright Eyes

bright eyes feature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Click here to find out more!Album Review: Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

Nothing too complex behind this piece. The fire colors and design were inspired by the album cover and the image itself is riffing off Bright Eyes’ name and the album title. Done with inks and watercolors. -Cap Blackard


tkolradioheadfeature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured art for:
Album Review: Radiohead – The King of Limbs

This was my first piece as Assistant Art Director. From the moment I first heard The King of Limbs, I knew I wanted to convey the record’s dubbed-out, fractal, frenetic, rhythmically reflective sound. I also wanted to focus on how those aesthetics relate to the tree from which the record finds its name. Since it took four years of hibernation to create the record, I show Thom Yorke crawling from the roots of the old tree like some psychotic patient, with magpies in the trees, lotus flowers on the ground – the line work scratched and inverted in a chaotic, disorienting world of echo. The unsettling thing about this piece, though, is that I drew it far before I saw any of the artwork found in the Universal Sigh or the record’s newspaper addition, and it is ridiculously similar to the line work and style of those drawings, specifically the way Stanley Donwood and Dr. Tchok handled the trees. Eerie. –Drew Litowitz

The Strokes

thestrokesfeatureimage Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: The Strokes – Angles

Consequence of Sound got a copy of Angles waaaaay before any of us expected to and we wanted to be the first to break it. In lieu of the time crunch, I did a manipulation of an older photo of mine that I felt meshed with the geometry of both the album cover and the album’s sound. This is from a series I did of the most incredible public structure I’ve ever seen: The Plantation Fashion Mall. Now closed and abandoned, I was allowed to shoot the building to preserve its magnificence. Its glass domes and palatial architecture are the glory of late ’80s and early ’90s Florida incarnate.

I used Photoshop to tailor the image to Angles adding in some bold colors to match the album cover. This was my last series to date on a traditional film camera. The grain of the film aided in creating a beautiful watercolor-like aspect to the feature image. -Cap Blackard


rem feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now

Originally, I was going to do this piece by bleaching dark paper, but I ended up buying the wrong kind of bleach and it had practically no reaction. So I opted for some very wet watercolor work with the intention of creating an abstract foundation for an edited version of my reference photo of Michael Stipe. The hardest whites are liquid paper, and the overlay worked out pretty well after some filters and sculpting.

The severe whites and blacks as well as the presence of lines and the marigold and yellow are references to the album cover for Collapse Into Now. -Cap Blackard

Foo Fighters

foofeature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

This is the first piece of photography I’ve done specifically for the CoS feature image. Since the first music videos accompanying this album were all recorded on VHS, I decided to incorporate tape into the image. The photo was taken on a garage floor with discarded cigarettes and matchsticks to add to a grungy feel.

The VHS tape sacrificed for this project was of the 1980 skit comedy film, Loose Shoes. Even with Bill Murray featured in a couple of scenes the film didn’t have enough redeeming qualities to save it from my screw driver. I placed a label reading “Wasting Light” on the cassette. -Cap Blackard

Panda Bear

noahfeature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured art for:
Album Review: Panda Bear – Tomboy

Leading up to the much-anticipated release of Tomboy, Panda Bear released a few 7″ singles and sold tour posters and t-shirts, all with simplistic, pencil-drawn gray and white images, similar to record’s future cover art. Among these singles was “You Can Count On Me”, which featured cover art of a simple pencil rendering of a father and child. For my Tomboy illustration, I wanted to draw a portrait of Noah Lennox in graphite, to match the simple visuals Lennox had been using of late. The drawing’s minimalism and crude pencil marks show Lennox alone, totally underexposed, accompanying a record of unbearable loneliness and solitude.  -Drew Litowitz

TV On The Radio

tv on the radio final Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

A digitally manipulated photo of a clustered flower that I took. No clue what kind it is. Normally I finish photos at a natural size and shrink them down to feature box size, but in this case what I thought were going to be some “final tweaks” on the feature image ended up being so extensive that it would’ve been a massive ordeal to redo them on the original file. There were many many many layers by the end of this piece. -Cap Blackard

Fleet Foxes

Fleet foxes feature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured art for:
Album Review: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Helplessness Blues is one of the most desperately inquisitive records I’ve ever heard. For every statement, there’s Robin Pecknold with yet another existential inquiry. To express Pecknold’s anxious disillusionment, I scribed some of the record’s key lyrics around a simplistic portrait of the Fleet Foxes frontman, highlighting some of the record’s most difficult questions. The hardest one being, “WHY? The result looks something like a bathroom stall graffiti portrait, used as some sort of shrine. I think that about fits the bill. –Drew Litowitz

The Cars

thecars Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: The Cars – Move Like This

A rare instance where I did the feature art and wrote the article. This is a collage, mostly sampling from mid ’90s DC comics (read: disposable) with a few other pieces from newer issues that were damaged, as well as an old issue of Disney Adventures. Images of cars were cut out and assembled then painted over with acrylic. The colors red, yellow, green, and blue pertain to the album’s cover. When I scanned the piece I wrapped it in plastic wrap 1) because it was still wet and 2) because I thought it might look cool. The gloss of the plastic wrap ended up being a bit overwhelming on the whole, and I prefer the non-plastic version. However, the picture I ended up using as the feature image is a cropped version of the plastic wrap version. You can see the full size plastic version here. -Cap Blackard


moby feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Moby – Destroyed

This drawing started on a paper tablecloth at a Moroccan restaurant in Chicago (the Moby head to the left, drawn without reference) and CoS President/Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman insisted that it be used for the featured image. I crumpled it up and abused it in my purse for a couple weeks before sitting down to finish it adding layers of inks, charcoal, white paint and liquid paper. The larger Moby head was drawn with reference after I’d rorschached the paper. The general feel of the images was derived from Destroyed‘s theme of stark loneliness. -Cap Blackard

Summer Tours

summer tours feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
The 15 Hottest Summer Tours of 2011

I wanted something that summoned the spirits of summer traveling in North America: big rigs, deep forests, tropical coasts, a funky car covered in luggage, and a mysterious sun-soaked crow spirit (a byproduct of reading dystopian America graphic novel Puma Blues and its art by Michael Zulli). This piece started with loose pencils, water colored over, then inked with a broken and spewing Pilot Razor Point pen, and finally, accented with a white paint pen and liquid paper. -Cap Blackard

Lady Gaga

gaga feat final Year in Art 2011

Artist: Virginia McCarthy & Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

The illustration pencils and inks are by good friend, talented illustrator, and frequent collaborator, Virginia McCarthy. I provided the colors. A strange Gaga creature leads former Gaga outfits in a choreographed dance number emulating the “Born This Way” music video. The “Born This Way” video was in many ways such a stark departure from the visual complexity of her previous videos that this seemed a pertinent comparison to make – with those previous video’s costumes following the simply and scantily dressed Gaga form. The coloring and background was done in Photoshop. -Cap Blackard

Bon Iver

boniverfeat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Going into this piece I took ideas from both the cover for Bon Iver – a kaleidoscopic kind of Bob Ross painting of pastoral landscapes and farm houses. As well as the exceptional music video for the then new track, “Calgary“. It’s got a recurring bed/sleep and couplehood theme. I smooshed all those ideas together for this image.

The face isn’t frontman, Justin Vernon, but he does kind of have ’70s hair, so that’s where that came from. The background was laid in with no linework underneath it. The figures were put in with blue line, painted over, and the final lines for the whole piece were done in charcoal. -Cap Blackard


incubus feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Incubus – If Not Now, When?

When I do feature illustrations for CoS, I always look into the album and the band’s recent goings on. Sometimes I have a good familiarity with the artist(s), sometimes not so much. I always strive to keep elements of the band’s latest project imbued into the feature art. This one side steps a bit. The cover for If Not Now, When? is a black and white photograph with a decent amount of grain to it. I knew I wanted a piece that was relatively monochromatic that would either have natural grain, or that I’d add grain to. In looking into the meaning behind the album’s name and the title track, I decided to take it into an alternate direction, riffing off how I’d choose to interpret the album title. In this case- how long until animals take on human traits or humans take on animal’s? -Cap Blackard

Portugal. The Man

portugal the man feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain, In the Cloud

The man’s face was a doodle drawn in my sketch book, pretty much actual size in the full size picture. Done with a ballpoint pen. It wasn’t originally intended to be part of the feature art but while playing with it it seemed like an interesting fit. I changed the color of the drawing’s lines to reflect the line drawing color of the album art. The photo was taken by me at Apollo Beach on Florida’s Space Coast. -Cap Blackard

Jay-Z & Kanye West

kanye jay z feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Rise to the Throne: The Collaborative Highlights of Jay-Z and Kanye West

This was actually the first feature illustration I did for CoS, back in fall 2010. I mixed up which album was coming out and did a piece for Watch The Throne and not My Dark Twisted Fantasy. So though my first piece of published feature art was for last year’s Daft Punk, this was the first drawn. Rapper Astronautalis is now the proud owner of the original watercolor of this piece. -Cap Blackard

Stephen Malkmus

malkmus feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Virginia McCarthy
Featured art for:
Interview: Stephen Malkmus

Borrowing the building-side painting look from Mirror Traffic‘s album art, Virginia created this strangely sinister portrait of Malkmus. A pencil illustration overlaid with digital paint. I came in and overlaid it onto a beat-up cardboard texture to give it a similar street-side texture to the album art.  -Cap Blackard

Red Hot Chili Peppers

rhcp feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Riffing off the cover for I’m With You, with a fly perched on a pill capsule, I ended up with a fly version of Anthony Kiedis vomiting up pills into Flea’s mouth. Sure, why not?

This started with me working on a rough layout concept in Photoshop, where I completed the piece. For this image’s use in the feature box, it holds up really well. View it larger and my Photoshopping technique gets a bit transparent. It’d be nice to find the time to do an analogue version of this some day. -Cap Blackard

Lil Wayne

CoS LilWayne feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Bianca Triozzi
Featured art for:
 Click here to find out more!Album Review: Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Bianca took the truly lil’ Lil’ Wayne from the cover of Tha Carter IV and age-progressed him to current day Carter. Sharing a Twin Peaks fanaticism with myself and Michael Roffman, she thought she’d drop the rapper into his own personal Black Lodge, complete with an armless statue sporting Nicki Minaj hair. This piece was all analog. -Cap Blackard

St. Vincent

stvincentfeature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured artwork for:
Album Review: St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

On the outside, Annie Clark is adorable, petite, and elegantly beautiful. She’s every hipster’s dream-wife. But, her meticulously chaotic soundscapes stand in stark contrast to her outward appearance. I wanted to play with that concept. To show the perfect, cute Clark with an almost sinister look on her face, her crazed hair, and a little bit of blood on her surgical gloves (“Surgeon”), just a taste of what her latest record has to offer. Her perfection marred only slightly by the blood on her hands from cutting herself open and crafting one of the year’s best albums. -Drew Litowitz


TheWholeLove 03 Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured artwork for:
 Album Review: Wilco – The Whole Love

“The Art of Almost” and The Whole Love were the two phrases which led me to this minimal graphic. Using the “charging” symbol from an iPod or iPhone as a launching point, I created a worn, distressed heart, “almost” filled with love, but still well on its way to getting there. –Drew Litowitz

Ryan Adams

ashesandfire Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured artwork for:
 Album Review: Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

Ashes. Fire. Roses. Using symbols commonly associated with Ryan Adams, and the record’s album art for inspiration, I wanted to create an image in which everything burned together into one fiery mess. Adams sits to the left, watching roses and a tropical forest burn right before his eyes. For such a dark, beautiful record, I think it gets the job done. –Drew Litowitz

October Party

cmj 11 flier 2 Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured artwork for:
 Consequence of Sound’s October Party in Brooklyn

For his birthday a couple years ago, indie rapper, Jackson, aka Ms. Paintbrush of Grand Buffet put a call out on his Tumblr for a gift wish. He wanted people to send him images of Jay Leno carjacking a seahorse. I was happy to oblige and sent him linework intending to color it soon after. Fast forward to this October and I finally got around to coloring it. This was simultaneous to being assigned our CMJ-timed October party poster and the image felt like a good fit for a concert poster. I’d done some “save the date” ad graphics leading up to the announcement of the party. They were simple, sepia-toned, text based images. Working the more bold, marker-colored seahorse graphic into that color scheme took some trial and error with different layering styles before I felt that it matched the feel of the rest of the poster. For the curious, the albums floating thin the seahorse’s car are Slave to the Rhythm and Tin Machine. You can see the original illustration with Jay Leno and the seahorse here. -Cap Blackard

Tom Waits

waits animated feat1 Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Check Out: Are You Bad As Tom Waits?

This art was not just intended as the feature image for Waits’ Bad Like Me, but also CoS’ “Bad Like Me” Quiz. Inspired by that feature, I thought I’d make a carnival-style quiz machine to test your badness. This is a digital photo collage amalgamating many separate and very unrelated elements. The body of the machine is an antique, derelict Coke machine. You can check out a large, non-animated version here. -Cap Blackard


coldplay feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

I read that the WWII White Rose Movement was one of Chris Martin’s inspirations with this album, so I went with that image for the feature. There’s a memorial for the Movement that’s a very amorphous rose made from tiles set into the ground. I liked the notion, and based off that, I went for a similar idea with a fractured, but still recognizable look. The color scheme comes from the more prominent hues of the album art. Lots of texture layering for the background. This is an all-digital collage. -Cap Blackard

Lou Reed & Metallica

lulufinal Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured art for:
Click here to find out more!Album Review: Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

No comment. – Drew Litowitz

The Beach Boys

SMiLEfeature Year in Art 2011

Artist: Drew Litowitz
Featured art for:
Album Review: The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions

With my SMiLE graphic, I took the concept of a “lost” album to its logical pop culture counter-part. Parodying the well-known promotional image for ABC’s Lost, instead of Matt Fox and Evangeline Lilly in front of the bold Typeface, the five Beach Boys walk ominously along a dark beach, surfboard in hands. The scene’s high contrast gives the image a somber tone, the board looking almost coffin-like, with the Boys Beach marching towards an answer to the mystery of one of pop’s greatest enigmas. I knew I could have gone with something more along the lines of the album’s iconic cover, but I wanted to try something different. There was darkness behind the scenes, and I wanted to get at the legend of it all. Surf’s Up, indeed. -Drew Litowitz

David Lynch

lynch feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
David Lynch’s 20 Weirdest Musical Moments

For this graphic, I wanted to juxtapose some well-loved Lynchian images. The central image is of Dennis Hopper’s deranged, blue velvet obsessed criminal, Frank Booth. Eleanor Edwards photographed me with her blue velvet bathing suit shoved in my mouth. The rest of the images are all Twin Peaks– the zig-zag floor of the Black Lodge, splattered with garmonbozia, and a forest of Douglas Firs showing through underneath. -Cap Blackard

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

Kate bush version 1 feat Year in Art 2011

Artist: Cap Blackard
Featured art for:
Album Review: Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

Kate Bush is among my shortlist of all-time favorite artists. She’s a magical being in a woman’s body – people say variations of that all the time. As far as I’ve been able to tell, it’s true. I was really excited to get to do some feature art for 50 Words for Snow.

The first thing I attempted to do for this was to commission a local ice sculptor to do a rendition of Bush’s face, which I would light and photograph. Unfortunately, and as expected, ice sculpting was too expensive to pull that off. The illustration was easily something I could’ve lost myself in, with intricate details and so on. If I had allowed more time for myself I may have gone there. I mean, it’s Kate Bush! Instead I went for a more guttural, organic approach: I started with a broad, wedged pen and went at it abstractly. After creating a template for the piece that way, I went over it with a white paint pen, giving Bush’s face more depth and detail. Then grey markers, then more paint, then smaller ink pens, then more grey, then more paint.

Someday I hope to make something more grand based on Bush’s work. But it’s a start. -Cap Blackard

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