Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Garden Ruin

Earlier this year, Joey Burns from Calexico contacted me about doing the album art for his next album. I was already familiar with their special sound, having heard them on KCRW, so I was very interested, especially after he mentioned that he liked my travel sketchbooks. Once in a while, a rare project comes along that promises to be fulfilling both intellectually and spiritually (usually, brute intellect trumps the soul, and photoshop scrubs it clean), so I was grateful for the chance to take on this project. He sent me all the music he was working on for Garden Ruin, and I drew inspiration from the lyrics.

> graphite on bond, scanned into photoshop, with type and rough digital color

> revised sketch after talking a bit more with Joey.

> acrylic on paper, 12 x 22"

> revised color in photoshop, along with some careful dodging and burning.

> type drawn with india ink

> interior art for the liner notes. Again, Joey gave me free reign with these drawings.

> Calexico's next album will be out soon, but I highly recommend all their work -- thoughtful, lyrical, eclectic, and lush.


Bluebird said...


I love Calexico. Their music gets me through days I am sitting sketching out new projects. Your work ties together with their sound so beautifully.

Great work,


3:00 PM  
rickgo said...

james your work is so incredible,I'm constantly inspired by your graphite/mixed media style,keep up the great job you are doing.

3:06 PM  
glenda said...

NICE art!

6:21 PM  
enandrews said...

you seem to of nailed your style to a point where its scarey to imagine what you'll be capable of later in life :)

6:46 PM  
Dominic Bugatto said...

Speaking as a long-time Calexico fan , I think you really captured the mood and vibe of the band.

Nicely done.

6:53 PM  
Miras said...

Great work!

1:04 AM  
Pietari said...

It's beautiful. I love the indian ink type, it suits with other artwork very well, it gives more depth.

looking forward to see the cover in the local record shop and then in my cd shelf!

1:36 AM  
Pia Berglund said...

wow, that is awesome! i love your travel sketchbooks too! i have looked in them like a million times. you are a big inspiration to me.
Have a wonderful day

4:24 AM  
C. said...

thanks again for sharing all this... it's allway very impressive and instructive.

4:35 AM  
jed said...

This is gorgeous! I like your choice with the graphic design, to go with the hand lettering. And the interior drawings are, as usual, beautifully done. The hands are a particularly compelling image.

THings get just a little murky in the background, but really, I think that's more an issue of the web, than the image itself. Wet media often doesn't reproduce as well as it should on the internet--especially at this size. And "murky" is pretty subjective anyway--without the contrast, it's still a very compelling image. I bet in print, and at the proper size, the image translates much better.

6:01 AM  
d. yee said...

To add to everyone's comments on the great beautiful drawings you have, it is indeed great to have such creative freedom without the major (includinb major labels) hassle over control.

The process sounded a lot smoother than the previous.

I like the revised verson after you spoke with Joey. I think the bird did make a lot of impact.

I look forward to the release!

8:16 AM  
ABY said...

So beautiful!

12:34 PM  
ScarletSphinx said...

That's insprational.....poetic.
The Raven betrayed by the trees
The clouds but feet of thieves
....I could work with this.

2:10 PM  
lulu said...


Your line is so incredibly fluid and elegant. I have to admit I am in love with your work!

The album work is perfect! That image is really going to boost salesof that CD. Can't wait to see more....

4:54 PM  
Anonymous said...

I was wondering what you would say is the biggest aspect of you're art that's changed since you left college and became an illustrator. :)

Just like LULU said, you're line is fluid and elegant to the highest degree.

Thanks -RC-

5:34 PM  
Jon Keegan said...

James, you keep getting the dream jobs...Glad to see such great talents paired together. Congrats!
-Jon Keegan

9:21 PM  
Alina Chau said...

THese are stunning!!

10:02 PM  
josh said...

really nice, after finally hearing parts of the album I think you did a super job in matching the mood, I really like the interior illustrations

8:09 AM  

the line sings, the music draws, I'm lost and found again, broken, ruined.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Calexico fan and JJ fan. The two great talents coming together is just amazing. Great work James, as usual, and you've got good taste in music too. Thanks. "I'm glad you are."

Scott K.

2:57 PM  
Juan said...

wonderful work. Your finished ones are impeccable. I am charmed with it

4:28 PM  
Sam said...

Excellent stuff as always. Again, the process is really amazing to see as well.

6:07 PM  
Bender said...

Thunderstruck. Fits very well. Calexico has done some amazing work. VERY excited for the new album. Their work with Iron and Wine is also very well done.

6:07 PM  
Jeff said...

Hey James, This looks so fun. I really like how you combine both digital and traditional techniques together. Something I am strating to learn and I think it is exciting to see how other people use the computer as another tool for thier work.

Very beautiful images man!

9:11 PM  
Process Recess said...

Thanks so much for the kind comments and criticisms -- it really helps me gain perspective on each piece that I post on the blog.

Anon - "I was wondering what you would say is the biggest aspect of you're art that's changed since you left college and became an illustrator. :)"

> I would say the biggest change is the amount of compromises I've made. Having to make a living, support a family, build a household . . . someone more dedicated to art would be more selfish, I suppose. Hence, I turned to Photoshop for succor and comfort. However, I do intend on getting back to painting this year . . . some exciting things are in the works ahead!

11:34 AM  
Anonymous said...

Interesting, I was expecting something different from the answer, but you gave exactly what I was looking for, the truth. I can't wait to see your new paintings, I love all the others. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for your time. -RC-

8:05 PM  
Linzie Hunter said...

amazing work

2:50 AM  
Pete said...

Hey James-

Any advice on how to grab some of those ballpoint pens you use? I searched the internet all over for them but no one sells s.k.b sb-1000 pens. I have other brands that are fine point but I wonder how much better the s.k.b's are??

11:31 AM  
Katie said...

wow, that is beautiful!

12:36 PM  
Eliane said...

"Having to make a living, support a family, build a household . . . someone more dedicated to art would be more selfish, I suppose" You're saying it... Sometimes I long for the selfish life, but it sure is rewarding to have a family, couldn't do it without them!

5:29 AM  
Carlos V. said...

It's awsome to hear that you'll be getting back to painting! I love all your work but there is nothing better than to see an artist express himself with raw materials. Something about taking the path of the masters before you and traveling on your own route is fasinating to me. Great drawings Jean!

9:17 PM  
Tony Akins said...

Hey James,
I finally linked you on my blog (http://tonyakins.blogspot.com/). As ever, your skills blow me away; I really enjoy what you're doing. Damned inspiration. On to professional things; our book," Jack of Fables", is being solicited in the May issue of Previews. I understand Shelly is pushing for your art for issue one as the cover. Everyone agrees.
Talk at you soon.

11:26 AM  
Hans said...

All your stuff is absolutely amazing!

8:08 PM  
G said...

Hi James, just wanted to say that I'm a big fan of your artwork and really really enjoy looking at all the amazing details and also the overall beauty of it all! Just read your interview over at www.thehundreds.com and found out about this blog. Keep up the fantastic work!!

- Gary

8:13 PM  
Anonymous said...

I love the cover art for this album. Any chance you would be releasing a giclee of this?

7:50 AM  
Federico Bertolucci said...

WOW! Awesome work!

3:48 AM  
kevin fitz said...

no shit?!?! i walk past this poster everyday at the record store.. you did this?!?! hell yes, great work!

7:19 AM  
Jolly Mercenary said...

鳥的那張真的很有中國風的感覺,真的很漂亮!Great work!

7:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home