Illoshow - James O'Brien

Posted by Betty Taylor on

Illoshow 3: Remix is a showcase of album art re-imagined by local artists, designers, and illustrators. Curated by local illustrator and designer James O’Brien, Illoshow 3: Remix provides an unexpected take on both iconic and obscure album art seen through the lens of various Twin Cities artists. Each participant was asked to choose an album as a starting point, and was given the option to use the existing artwork in their concept or to change it completely.

James O’Brien

Why did you choose these records?
I wanted to start with Elvis, convert some of his albums into portraits. I actually made 10 [pieces] for the show, all randomly picked, no real reason for any of them other than I didn’t mind sacrificing the album.

Smiling Elvis

What about the Elvis album made you want to choose him as a focal point?
I love Elvis, and I’m sure many others would love to see these albums as portraits rather than album cover designs.

Why do you love Elvis?
Well, love might be too strong. But his voice, legend, icon, all that.

Smoldering Elvis

Is this your typical art style or are you doing something different?
What aspects of your personal style are reflected in these pieces?

[This is] sort of typical for my personal work, but for my professional work I am more digital, more time in the computer than outside of it. Not much else [is reflected] other than embracing accident, allowing the process to determine the outcome.

Did you listen to the records for inspiration?
No, but I should have. I think that would be an interesting way on the project. I let the existing design guide my art decisions.

What did you find most enjoyable when you were working on these pieces?
The joy of discovery, not starting out with a clear plan, just seeing what developed.

Standing Elvis

Do you usually start your pieces with a clear plan in mind?
For these I did a little bit, just a starting point, and then again allowing it to develop.

What did you find challenging about reinterpreting an existing piece of art?
Overworking it, knowing when to stop, not sure how successful I was at that.

Is there anything about your final designs that you would remove, or that you wish you hadn’t added?
I think I overworked a couple of them, I’ll let you decide which ones.

What did you learn in doing this project?
That I want to do more.

What’s the first album cover that comes to mind that you would want to remix next?
I would love to do a Bowie album, just don’t want to sacrifice any. I have some duplicates though so maybe...

What is your relationship to vinyl as a music format?
I’m a modest collector; about 600 albums and a stereo hooked up to vintage Bose speakers. Much better than digital music.

What are you listening to right now?
A David Bowie mix. 

See more of James’ work here., and for more behind the scenes stuff, visit his instagram account @obrienjames.

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