Illustrator, designer and Digital Arts contributor Gordon Reid, aka Middle Boop, has created an awesome 8-bit inspired series of EP and single covers for musician Andrew Hung, who creates music using video game emulators.
The collaboration is far from over, with lots more music planned, but so far Andrew has released an EP called Rave Cave followed by a single called Repetition vs Time, which will be part of the new Rave Cave 2 EP, all of which Gordon has designed the artwork for.
You can listen to the latest single above, then read on for our interview with Gordon about how he created the artwork.
Digital Arts: Were you a Nintendo kid? Or were you more PlayStation or Sega?
GR: Oh, definitely a Nintendo kid. I still remember getting my first Gameboy and SNES back in the early 90s. My mind was blown. Street Fighter and Mario Kart ruled for me.
When the Gameboy came out in 1990, it made a lasting impression on my life. The day I got the Gameboy was absolutely amazing, completely revolutionary for its time. I ruined my thumbs on the original Super Mario.
Digital Arts: How did you come to work with Andrew Hung for the first EP?
GR: I've been mates with Andrew for years. I've done loads of work for his main band Fuck Buttons and the other member's project Blanck Mass before so it definitely felt like a natural move to work with him on his solo work. We had actually been speaking about working together on this artwork ever since he started writing his own music well over a year ago, so when it finally came to creating the work, we both had a really clear idea of where things were going to go.
Digital Arts: How did you want to visually represent the feel of listening to Gameboy sounds in 2015
GR: Ever since listening to the first versions of Andrew's music I was totally sold on the concept. I always had this idea of basically creating a sort of 8-bit video game world to harness it.
It was always planned for a series of singles and EPs so the visuals had to work to a running theme. The starting point was creating the lockup at the top and the logo. That needed to stay consistent throughout the campaign to make sure the viewer or listener could link them, and also to give the feel of the 'game'.
I wanted to represent different elements of a game but still have a very surreal element to them, so for the most recent single I wanted to work as sort of an end-level baddie, like Bowzer's Castle or something, so really vibrant colours and shapes were used. This theme will continue as the collaboration evolves, so hopefully by the end we'll have an entire gaming world created to complement the music.
Digital Arts: What visual references did you want to incorporate into the first cover and why?
GR: This one was the big one. It was the first time anyone would have heard Andrew's solo music and the first time he would have seen my artwork so it needed to be spot on. I wanted to create a whole social campaign to go along with it, so I created a lot of elements and patterns that were released sporadically as teasers on social media to whet the appetite of his fans.
By the point of creating the artwork, I'd heard the music loads and always had the idea of creating a Starfox-style spaceship for the first cover, so definitely had this in mind. Classics like Tetris, Metroid and Zelda, too.
At this point, I'd also been working with Mogwai on some 8-bit game-style work for their anniversary shows, so it definitely has some visual nods to the original 8-bit Star Wars game.
Digital Arts: The second EP cover seems more abstract than the first. Was this in response to changes in the music or just a desire to do something different?
GR: I think it just felt like a natural progression really. I'd noticed Andrew's sound really progress – it became more layered and intricate – so I felt like the artwork needed to progress and have more depth to it too. I think by the end of the campaign I want the artwork to have evolved with the music hopefully as naturally as it has so far, but there also have to be enough links to each piece to work as a series.
Digital Arts: What were your reference points for this second cover?
GR: It was definitely more Mario and Donkey Kong, all of the inlaying patterns were taken from those sorts of games. I mixed that with a lot of different patterns I've been experimenting with and it came together from there.
Digital Arts: What's next?
GR: For me, I'll be working on the rest of this project, which will be continuing for a while with more music and gigs to come. I've branded the new Newton Faulkner album, so that campaign should be starting soon.
I've just worked on a pretty large job for Saatchi & Saatchi, but unfortunately I'm not allowed to properly announce yet but will be shouting from the rooftops when it's released. Aaaaand, I'm currently working on my first London-based solo show, I'm basically working on a whole bunch of artwork inspired by The 80's LA skate scene, people like Bones Brigade, so it's still in the early stages but I'm really psyched about how the artwork is progressing for that!