The music business is a global industry that employs tens of thousands of people and represents artists and acts that generate many millions ol dollars per annum. The huge scale of the operation means that finding in-roads into working as a freelance illustrator can be less lhan straightforward, Large record labels normally run their own art departments, creating sleeves and promos for their acts on an in-house basis, buying in photography and illustration on a project-by-project basis. Some of Ihe large labels, however, prefer to out-source all of their design, working with one major design company or a selection of smaller agencies, commissioning them for the entire design and production of each project.
Gaining access to information and contact details for both record label art departments and independent design companies, although not initially as simple as in other sectors of the design and advertising industries, will prove fruitful. A little more 'homework', coupled with an awareness of current and emerging trends in both music and design practice within the discipline, is necessary. Frequent visits lo record stores and regular checking of the small-print credits in the sleeve notes will elicit the correct contact information, or at least work as a starting point. Increasingly individual acts now have Iheir own website where further contact Information can be obtained. Undertaking research is the best preparation for reaching contacts, particularly in this field.
It is rare for an illustrator to work for a particular band throughout their entire lifespan, but it can happen. The spin-offs can be as interesting and challenging as facets of advertising illustration. Creating images for merchandise, back-drops and set design, as well as animations for the band's promo videos are all areas that can open up for those whose work defines the graphic look of a recording artist. For some musicians, the very nature of working with an illustrator is seen fondly as rekindling their own art school beginnings, the art school having acted as a breeding ground for bands Since the 1960s.
1-5, Music promotion 'Mish mash' club poster for Cargo nightclub Insect, 2004
Insect was commissioned to create a series of promotional posters for Mish Mash, an Independent club night at Cargo in Hoxton, London. Many independent record labels and ctubs require promotional material and this can be an interesting, if not lucrative, field to gain valuable experience in,
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