Painting Lyrics

Write or Paint?

I've been asking myself this question since I was 12 years old - caught in the middle of loving visuals and music. My boys Paul and Tony schooled me in the craft of graf while listening to Nas. They would tell me,  "Paint what you see. Feel the music? Then start writing." 

Since them snot-nosed days in the Chicago's Uptown, Edgewater, & Rogers Park neighborhoods - running around painting what I saw - in my head - I continue to combine the two methods of creation. Sight and Sound. Write what I see. Paint what I see. The methods that culminated most perfectly in "All I See is Red".

"Singular Vision" documented this first, after being re-inspired by street artists Sent Rock & JC Rivera to not let the visual contribution to Alert312's work get left behind. The fact was I seemed to be inspired more with a campaign when visuals inspired the music, and Vice Versa - pardon the pun. 

So, on to the "Upside Eternal". This project started with music and lyrics. Moral One and I diving into the wonderful analogue abyss that defines how we make music. As songs were formed - truly a journey - I rode my bike back and forth from home to studio in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. Lots of decay exists there, a mix of beautiful and horrific, lovely and despised. It made me think of the content of the Upside - the lament of our current world, while looking forward to the hope of God's New City to come. Ya'll know how it go "Upside, Upside"! My bad, I get excited.

With that thought in motion, the method of collage lent itself to craft the visual campaign for the "Upside Eternal" - half decay, half beauty - pieces of hope crafted together as hints of the hope we have in Christ. Of course, I wanted the majority to be a physical process, then digital. The photos will document the rest.  I got to say, truly the most satisfying visual and sonic campaign to date. Peep the process!

I honed my visual idea through research and mood boards, then grabbed botany images to start working with to provide the fauna. 

*Old School - for real. Most of the botany images I used had me in awe of the artists. Illustrators from the 1800's with mad skill. 

Then TYPE, my personal favorite. I got inspired by Retna - an LA based artist - and by the art form of Brazilian Pichação. I wanted long stretched lettering showing the vertical idea of "UP". So I went at a 30" x 30" canvas...

Converted it to digital...

Upside Sticker Type-01-01.png

And started the collage process with fellow Creative Native Matthew Bowie images we had previously shot, the gold type and the botany images. After LOTS of hours and coloring the final cover surfaced.

But I had to keep creating after the final was done. I couldn't stop with the digital. It wasn't satisfying enough to have the piece in digital form. The music was too rich on the album with analogue texture and grit. I needed to finish the canvas to feel complete with the campaign.  I went on to finish the Upside Eternal alternative physical cover with cut out botany images.

The process was challenging. Digital spoils us. The physical makes you work but is much more satisfying when completed. I listened to Thelonious Monk for two weeks straight and completed 4 more collage pieces based off of the Upside Eternal songs "Haunt Me Home", "The Darkest Night", "Everyone Eats", & "Wild". Out came these, painting crafted by the inspiration of each songs lyrics. 

Although hard to part with, art is best when shared. These are available - original one off's - in the HiFi Native Store. Other than that, grab the album freely and paint your own lyrics familia. 

Write or paint? For me - both.

- Esteban Shedd // Boogalu of Alert312

For more ramblings - @mcboogalu // @alert312