Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Overload - Panic!

> The Black Parade Special Edition Box

> Giro 2007 Bike Catalog

I posted a large cache of new illustrations on yesterday. The Black Parade (My Chemical Romance) album just came out in the US, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the special edition box was put together. The final art was a bit more desaturated than my original version, but it should complement the photography in the overall package. Gerard Way had a very specific vision for the entire suite of images and characters, but my original contributions included the deer nursing the giant-headed baby and the massive heart pulsating in the background. The Giro catalog was also fun to work on: ballpoint pen drawings + loose photoshop painting . . . sort of a flashy digital version of my sketchbooks.


Last month, I got a call on a Thursday from Atlantic records, saying they needed an album cover illustration for Monday. Yes, I panicked, but they wanted the deluxe package to emulate a vintage cigar box and circus posters, so I was stoked. My adrenaline spiked for the next 48 hours.

I love the type and colors in these posters. "Dude!"

This was the art director's original idea/sketch for the packaging. We talked a bit on the phone -- a sketch by Friday, approval the same day, 2 days to execute, and final on Monday. Perfect.

A thumbnail sketch I did in photoshop over the AD's original sketch for the box. Working out the composition and typography in a mad rush.

My final sketch, with type treatment. The AD seemed excited by the sketch, and sent it to the band. No answer. Saturday . . . no answer. Sunday . . . no answer. Finally, Monday: turns out P!ATD just wants their name on the box. Feeling sorely disappointed, I decline to finish the box due to lack of interest and time.

However, I will be finishing up this illustration for an upcoming project with Adhouse books . . .


Anonymous charlie said...

Wow, this is a beautiful piece of art! Too bad they didn't want it! I guess I can understand how disapointed you should felt after working that fast and getting this superb result... anyway, I'm looking forward to see the final result :) Good artwork always finds its way!

2:12 AM  
Anonymous flo said...

this is Beautiful ! how can they dare wasting your time like this..I can't believe this. this wip is super interesting. Thanks for sharing and keep us updated please ! ^^

Keep up the good work : )
So delicious to watch and very inspiring : )

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Gabriel said...

Motherfucking Panic at the Disco. Well, at least they didn't aprove it on monday.

Shitty band anyway.

6:02 AM  
Blogger RobSchwager said...


It would be a shame to use and lose such a killer illo on such a crap flavor-of-the-week band.

6:04 AM  
Anonymous matt limmer said...

there loss I say. It would have turned out great. No talenters can't see talent.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is just gorgeous. I'm just excited that you'll be finishing it.


8:04 AM  
Blogger Jason Chalker said...

Man. Those guys are idiots! That box art is beautiful.

9:01 AM  
Blogger dex mission said...

really beautiful drawings! thanks for sharing.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Duc said...

Hey James!
This f...amazing!
This guys have no idea!
As always James! I love
ur work and it's so inspireing!
Truly ur my favourite Artist!


9:47 AM  
Blogger Chris Sims said...

One day I will reach your skill level. YOu raise the bar EVERY time!

9:49 AM  
Anonymous M said...

What a shame. How could they possibly want just their name instead of your artwork? I'm sure they'll sell less records or at the very least be far less eye-catching as a result.

9:53 AM  
Blogger I.G. said...

How could they just want thier name on the box? That's boring!!! I can't believe it, your illustration is absolutely gorgeous.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Chris Pitzer said...

I'm here for ya! heh.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Now i have even more reason to dislike Panic! at the Disco.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Jonas Mecca said...

Love your art work Yo! The Black Parade box is amazing. Panic can just suck it with they're subpar box. Wait till they see the Black parade box they're going to shit. Your work is amazing and and you just seem to amaze us more and more with your talent. I wish I could afford one of your peices. I already own your boook and I am very happy to have it. By the way congrats on having one of the best covers of the year.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Soren said...

The black parade box looks excellent. I would buy it for the artwork alone...
PANIC! AT THE DISCO is just plain stupid and like Jonas says they are going to sh*t them pants silly when they realise their mistake...

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your artwork is fantastic' James !
I can't believe this wonderful piece was rejected by the band !
Are they blind ?
Take care.
Porksoda xoxo

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wowwww, very impressive work!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

nice work. they must have a mental retardation...

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mannn what idiots!

i know it doesnt matter what i say and im sure the record labels pay you good money but james, dont waste your awesome art for stupid bands like these (and im talking about both of them)

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had some reaaally dum slow and way long deadlines to fill and still went totally nuts... So when I see you only had 48 hours to work and the finished piece.. I realize, DUDE!! YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!( I should've taken that job at Mc Donalds)

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent work! May I ask who did you go about the type? Is it hand drawn? is it computer type? a combination of both?

6:14 PM  
Blogger Paco Desiato said...

i heard about you in italian forum, compliments for wonderful drawings.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Anders said...

this is awesome!!!
I'm such a fan of the "art nouveau" touch you gave on your final sketch (I really dig the way you catch the essence of european posters tradition from the end of the 19th and early 20th century) , this is really huge work and it's impressive to see how much you can be contemporary with old looking visuals.
great stuff Sir!!

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:26 AM  
Anonymous sasha said...


7:07 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

I think I have that same size intuos 3. Do you prefer to work on that size of a tablet or are you planning on upgrading to a larger version?

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the MCR box looks awesome. Panic At The Disco doesn't deserve your art work.


6:46 PM  
Blogger moverlow said...

Stunning design/illustration . . . absolutely stunning.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Shawn Escott said...

Just looked at your site. You're a machine james. You need a vacation! :)

Great work!

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Keith Avery said...

Your next project should be about Hunter S. Thompson just for fun. :)

9:49 PM  
Blogger Process Recess said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone! To be clear, I don't hold anything against the band. It's a job like anything else, but the waiting was torture. I did walk away with a substantial kill fee. To answer some questions, the type is done on the computer, just manipulating and nudging the letterforms until they look right. The 8 x 6" intuous 3 is more than sufficient, and since my digital painting is quite simple, I don't require anything larger. And sTeadman owns Hunter S. Thompson, no one else can touch him.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous sasha said...

I come English is poor,so...
I am not sure whether you have understood my writing or not.I'll try to explain it in English.
"I am thinking...Could you understand Chinese?for I saw there are some feature of China,at least of Asian.I like the paintings you made which contains white.I really like your works,no reason!Strings like these,patterns like these,colors like this!You a really unique!Thank you for the surprise you gave me today!"

6:56 AM  
Blogger Santiago CARUSO said...

Great works, my friend! Congratulations. I would like to invite you to my art blog, i think that will like you.
Santiago Caruso

7:40 AM  
Blogger David Malan said...

I agree, screw Panic! Those guys art sense is limited to their ears apparently. I, on the other hand, have no musical talent but understand art and your design is brilliant. Really a great composition and drawing I'm sure the colors would have been also great.
Thanks for posting

9:58 AM  
Anonymous sentient said...

wow..found your site after my amazement at the Black Parade album art. Best album art I've seen in ages! I also took a peek at your Batman War series and thought "Frank Miller, who's that?" (from a HUGE Miller fan) This stuff is beyond anything I can recall (right away) on a graphic novel. My thanks to MCR to introducing me to your work. I love it!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Shalimar said...

Great Work. Their Loss.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Eli said...

I was going to write a long drawn out hate message about the band and then I realized this is your site and not theirs. I love your work aesthetic. I Think it's great that you can just kill the project due to artistic differences, among other things. Really though, It seems that illustrators have to always do what they're told even when they don't agree with where an assignment is going. To have such integrity and the sense of when your time is being wasted is admirable. Take the power back James, and lead the way for better standards in the business. These works are really awesome. I feel like a groupie but what the hell. Thanks James.

10:33 AM  
Blogger josh said...

i totally agree with the above post. and that special edition cover looks pretty amazing. love the black on black. So punk! er pop-goth-punk

2:29 PM  
Blogger eendar said...

She is just so delicate and beautiful... You make it so simple!! :)

2:47 PM  
Blogger amma said...

Here's something hideously fangirl for you: can't wait until you speak at Yuko's class in a few weeks.
Just to say in advance, I totally won't pose questions, not due to disinterest, but for lack of being able to think of something worth asking.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it would be them that jsut wants their name on the box. Unbelievable. Awesome job man, as always its amazing.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Djavan said...

They are so dumb. Why would you reject something this beautiful. Come to thing of it. It's a good thing they didn't want this cuz I can predict they won't last long. They so lucked out.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous pk said...

I really admire your drawings a lot. The Giro stuff are quite unusual from you but still nicely done. Really appreciate your enthusiastism on making good art works.

3:43 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Stunning work. Why in the hell P!ATD would opt for just having their name on the box is beyond me.

4:52 AM  
Blogger anonymous10101 said...

the P!ATD final sketch is quite beautiful!!! i would call it a finish and wouldn't bother adding color. maybe some tones or washes but i think it beckons for the b&w look.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Nina said...

My Chem > P!ATD

Your work is beautiful :)

6:36 AM  
Blogger Jed said...

The Black Parade package is gorgeous and looks like you had a lot of fun with it, though I know nothing about the band. I'm really out of it when it comes to that sort of thing.

Its strange how rock bands have so much say in what goes on the covers of their albums, while authors and novelists tend to have virtually no say at all.

Though sexy, I can see why they might not have considered your cover sexy enough in that look at us we're rockstars way. As funky as Album covers can be sometimes, hipster culture can be ironically conservative when it comes to what constitutes that fashionable, "edgy" look.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I love what you did! The band (more likely their record marketing folks) are blind if they don't dig it!

10:04 PM  
Blogger Aman-About-Town said...

That is such a beautiful package design. Love the font you ended up choosing. Glad you'll be finishing the illustration for your own project!

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those guys are dumb shi*. But i see why they turned it down. This is way too beautiful over their head, while something punkish, slutty w/ a bit of gothic feeling will suit them better. And yet, they'd rather just put their name on the box to play as safe as they can be. It's marketing bullshi*.

10:23 AM  
Blogger cottonbutt said...

it's a shame that P!ATD didnt use this...
it looks great and i love ornament-ish designs on the borders that u have rendered !

1:08 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Hey James. I too am sorry that they didn't go for your illustration, because I truly did think that it would turn out great! I too had to stay up 48 hours to draw out an overly ornate cover comp for them with their name. It was a crazy project with crazy deadlines, and a crazy approval process. Contrary to what some folks are saying here, I think that the Panic box came out pretty good. Especially the interior elements.

Anyway I hope that you finish your sketch, because it would be a shame to just let it go.
You know that I love your stuff, and am still looking forward to working with you on something else.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Process Recess said...

Hey Alex, cool to see your comment here. I look forward to seeing the Panic box -- some of my friends did work for it! Hope we can work together again down the line.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bike catalog has a brendan monroe feel to it.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Ithilethiel said...

The MCR stuff is great! I got the limited edition. Did you drew the cover of the box as well? You did not show the image on your website...

1:27 PM  
Anonymous matthew limmer said...

did you see how it ended up?

9:36 PM  
Anonymous FSL said...

I'm a bit horrified at their lack of professionalism and taste. But then, I've seen Ryan Ross's rose vest, so I don't know why I'm surprised.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it. It reminds me of Mucha.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Inês Ramos said...

so you did the artwork for the limited edition box?! congrats... it's amazing. loved the final work.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Do you get very disappointed, or discouraged, when things like this happen? I'd imagine there are mixed feelings (happiness at having created something worthwhile, but disappointment at your work being cast aside so easily). I wonder if it feels like a missed opportunity, or more of a fun, challenging project cut a little short?

3:25 PM  

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