Wolf People’s Joe Hollick & His Art


As mentioned previously, Wolf People guitarist Joe Hollick is not only a super shredder; he’s also, in a sense, Wolf People’s art director, designing the band’s album art and flyers. For the singles compilation, Tidings, released on Jagjaguwar earlier this year, Hollick made miniature paper models of vintage amplifiers. The authenticity and detail are unbelievable.

For the band’s full-length debut, Steeple, due Oct. 12 on Jagjaguwar (Oct. 11 in the UK), Hollick went a different, more abstract, more experimental route. He worked with glass and acrylics to try and achieve the earthy themes of the record. I’ll let Hollick himself talk about it (below). First, take a gander at the cover above and look close for the little blood orange steeple in there.

From the desk of Joe Hollick, discussing the process and inspiration behind the artwork for Steeple:

“I tried to do something illustrative orginally, but it just wasn’t working, as soon as I try and illustrate something it tends to start looking like a pastiche, as if I’m blatantly trying to attach imagery to the music, forcing it. I don’t class myself as an artist in the slightest so it was quite a push to get things going. I also got really fed up with computers, I like using them for the output stage of things, but for creating in them I find them hard work. Much of my day job involves the damned things, so any chance outside of that to go a bit mad and get my hands dirty is welcomed. I would never ever get a chance to work like this elsewhere so I wanted to try something new.

All of the songs off Steeple exist in a place, each song has a location in and around Bedfordshire, so I kept seeing them all laid out on an imaginery landscape. When I hear the record I see the songs from almost an aerial view, and the silence inbetween tracks is where you travel down an A or B road to get to the next one. I saw this artist’s work, I forget his name, who would paint abstract images of layers through rock and I liked the shapes of the strata and the fact that it hinted at layers beneath the surface that you don’t see unless you start digging. Much of Jack’s lyrics contain imagery of stone, rock, blood and ground, and they are all based on local events, you just have to do a bit of research…

I was really frustrated at first with trying to replicate the layers of sediment, it had been ages since I had used acrylic paints and I just couldn’t get the strata effect in the rock. When I went to paint the sky it looked terrible, almost like a really naive, child-like attempt at a scene. In one fraught session, I started to run out of bits of card to paint on and moved on to some bits of glass I had lying around, thinking that if a painting failed I could just scrape it off and start again. After one terrible attempt I put the glass under a tap to wipe off the fresh paint, to my surprise I found the acrylic just slipped around on the surface like a skin, allowing me to mould the paint into different shapes. It had exactly the effect I was looking for, my house quickly became swamped in bits of glass with wet, manky clumps of paint lumped on them waiting to dry out and be scanned. The rock texture for part of the image is just some sandstone I used to press the glass onto the bed of the scanner. Once scanned, I zoomed in on one tiny section of the mess and bumped up the contrast, I added some detail in pen too.

The artwork is a complete fluke, but I don’t mind this. One regret is that it occupies the same reddish colour range as Tidings, but I sort of quite like it, it looks like someone has ripped up Tidings and spat it out, which in a way the whole band has done with Steeple, also there’s a lot of blood spilt in the lyrics, so red seems appropriate, its the only thing I did out of around 50 attempts at painting, that to me, looked like the music, which is a bit of a pretentious thing to say but its exactly what I wanted to happen.”

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