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Art Works: Michael Cowell

6 July 12 words: Art Works
"There is nothing more satisfying than lifting the screen off that final print to discover that you actually got most of them right"
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Josh T. Pearson @ Primavera, Michael Cowell


This is a screenprint I produced for Josh T. Pearson’s gig at this year’s Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. It’s a four-colour print, including two split layers, on 320gsm speckletone card stock and is a limited edition of 75 pieces. As I was in Barcelona to take part in the Flatstock gig poster exhibition which happened in tandem with the festival, it made sense that myself and the other participating artist contact some of the bands playing to create posters for them, thus giving the exhibition a slightly more immediate context and, of course, the bands some cool merchandise to sell while they’re there.

The image was inspired by the themes that run behind a lot of Josh’s music; the melancholy of dying relationships, his self-deprecation, and the intense Old Testament-spirited iconography I’ve always been fond of myself. The image itself, from initial sketching to finished product, probably took about three to four weeks. Most of this was the actual drawing and inking, which is a little slower than usual because the image is so detailed.

The most annoying part of the process, by far, was the actual printing. Although I’ve got a proper studio at my disposal now as opposed to the converted coal shed on the back of my old house in Nottingham, screen printing is still something that drives me utterly insane. I’m mostly self-taught (barring a few regretfully ignored modules in uni) so there is nothing more satisfying than lifting the screen off that final print to discover that you actually got most of them right.

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Making artwork for bands and developing my still-simmering comic project, Indra’s Net, is something I do part-time alongside working at The Flood Gallery in Greenwich, one of the few galleries in the country to specialise in screen printed gig and film posters. I’ve always drawn and made art, but I got into gig posters while I was doing my final project at the University Of Derby. After finishing there and moving to Nottingham I continued to produce work for the Rescue Rooms and The Social (now The Bodega), and then found myself making posters for shows all over the UK and Europe and exhibiting them ever further afield.

The thing that always drew me to making gig posters is the opportunity to work quite freely with a lot of musicians I really admire. Seeing the way other artists working in this field evolve and develop what they do never ceases to amaze me. Seeing new artists emerge and my peers become some of the most vital and original contemporary illustrators is a constant source of inspiration.

Michael Cowell website

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