“Nick Worthington was head of A&R, he left XL and went to join a creative company called 679, which was part of Warner Music. He gave me a call and was like: ‘You gotta come and meet this kid’.”
Conceptualising and constructing these standout designs for breakout artists on stratospheric trajectories didn’t cease after going freelance as Alex soon became the brains behind the unforgettable branding for The Streets.
“I was sort of asking him [Mike Skinner] questions about what he did and he was like: ‘I smoke dope and stuff’ and he pulled this lighter out and said ‘I build my joints using this lighter.’ He pulls the filament out and for some reason that just stuck in my head, and that’s where the lighter idea came from.”
The secret to an iconic album sleeve
But what makes for a great album sleeve in the first place? “I’ve had loads of conversations with people around what’s iconic, they’re like you create ‘iconic sleeves’, and I don’t think you go out to create an iconic sleeve, things don’t really become iconic until they sell a lot of records.”
“So you know if it’s for Bill’s band down in Cardiff, that doesn’t become iconic but I think if you look at the top 100 covers or some of the more iconic sleeves, they are just really simple ideas with beautiful photography or pictures or illustrations; just a simple piece of type. And they share that similarity; just simplicity.”
'You’ll be surprised how open people are when you approach them'
“You’ve just got to do it and not be afraid to message people and bands you like, more often than not they’ll get back to you. You’ll be surprised how open people are when you approach them as well.”
Having experienced the music industry for over fifteen years and now working as a commercial freelance photographer, Alex is one of the newer Creative Commission members and has been applying to briefs on the site.
His advice to other creatives looking to build their portfolios and those starting out may seem obvious but you’ll never know where one conversation might take you.
“You must know friends, maybe in the music industry, start making some stuff for them, and have a look at stuff that’s been done before and gone before and take reference from that really. Once you’ve got three or four projects, a body of work, you could put it on the Creative Commission website and get some work through that.” We can’t argue with that.
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