Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Muse's Mad Maestro: A Process

So after three weeks of mentally treading through the tar and mud of my discombobulated flow of mismatched ideas, I finally got my graphic design project finished.

Seeing as I haven't written here in a while, let me elaborate:
The second project of my graphic design class was to design a spread for a feature article of a music magazine. I knew in a heartbeat that I'd choose to do an article spread on my favorite band Muse, and since I loved and knew them so well, I thought the project would be cake.

Man, was I in for a wake-up call.

We started out with three base sketches, each based from one concept about our band or music-topic of choice. My initial concepts included:
  1. Distrust and the 'Us vs. Them' theme that reoccur in their lyrics
  2. Their live performances and how they're such larger-than-life spectacles
  3. The effortless fusion of the rock and classical genres in their music
I ended up going with the last one because it seemed more conceptually compelling, and I thought I could pull a good image from that. Unfortunately, my first sketch was of Matthew Bellamy playing a mix between a guitar, violin and piano, shooting little cloud images of all his musical inspirations: Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, etc. Not exactly the most elegant of images.

So I worked at it and thought of what I could do.
Should I draw them in a classical, black and white style? Nah, not BIG enough. I also wanted to make the picture epic, to echo their epicness. That's not a word.
Should I make Matt jump with his guitar into an orchestra? There aren't any good pictures of an orchestra I could use for that...
Should I put cheesy music notes everywhere?
Should I draw the cheesy music notes in a ROCK FASHION?
Should I superimpose their heads onto the bodies of the Greek Muses?*

Nothing seemed to be working out!
I spoke to nearly every single one of my friends and let them push ideas into me and I tried everything, but nothing worked. I was beginning to think that I couldn't do it anymore, that it was just too hard to visually combine rock and classical in the big, bombastic way that Muse does. I felt like I was wading through tar and sinking.

Then, after reading a few good recent articles on Muse, I decided to bang out some new concepts:
  1. They've gone crazy since they produced The Resistance themselves, and pulled out all the stops
  2. There is an air of ~romance~ that permeates through The Resistance, underneath all the resisting and evil governments and random flashes of classical music
  3. Matt the mad maestro.
I loved the third one. The title "Mad Maestro" stayed in my head for a while, because it described Matt perfectly. What else could I say to elaborate on that? He's the Mad Maestro of Muse!

But because I was desperate for something to do, I ran with concept number 2 and produced this.

It was fun, especially painting over Matt's face to make him look more like a Romantic painting, but in the end I still wasn't feeling it.

I came back to "Mad Maestro" and thought, what if I just made him a conductor?
I've played with trying to fuse pictures of him playing his guitar and his piano and being with an orchestra, but I thought that above all those, the conductor of an orchestra would be more widely recognized as a symbol of classical music.
So I superimposed his head onto the body of a conductor.

And then I thought, what about the rock aspect?
Surprisingly simple: Just add a guitar slung over his back!
I liked it a lot. I thought I was going to just title it and get it done, let the image do all the talking. That was the simplest way I could come up with their fusion of rock and classical.

But wait!

It's not exciting enough, not the way Muse actually is! What was wrong with me? I needed something really attention-grabbing and bombastic, just like them, I needed a spectacle and possibly something that relates to space.

Thanks to this fantastic Star Brushset, I was able to very easily produce a nice space background.

After looking through some articles on Smashing Magazine (absolutely great and useful website for all you interested in computer artwork), I utilized some new skills I learned and finished up.

Critique was today.
I noticed a lot of people stopping to look at mine, and that felt really good. A lot of them seemed to like it :) The professor commended my solution to the "rock+classical" problem in the form of maestro-Matt with his guitar (yea, it's his guitar, I even looked up what sort of guitars Matt uses and picked the one that fit best, ha).

I thank everybody for all their help, I know I've been a bit of a whiner and pain for the duration of this project, but eventually I got out of the tar pit and came out with a project I'm truly proud of.

Click image for full view!

Oh, by the way, don't mind the cheesy text. I'm an artist, not a writer :P

*Points to whoever can guess which Muses Matt and Dom are!


Lauren Ashley said...

"Should I superimpose their heads onto the bodies of the Greek Muses?*"

I tried a new drink at Starbuck's today. Thanks to the above sentence, my computer screen got to try it, too. ^__^

Also... GUESS WHO HAS A NEW DESKTOP WALLPAPER? That's right, Jolls. Your spread is sexier than THIS:


Bravo, my friend. BRAVO.

Patricia said...

As a graphic designer and Paint Shop Pro addict myself, I think you did a hell of a job! I snagged it just to add to my collection, I might use it as wallpaper someday :)
Way to go!

Brent said...

Amazing, as always!! I'm completely surprised by the result and I know that you will always come through in the end with something flashy and creative.

Definitely new wallpaper :)

Brent said...

I like this "I got out of the tar pit" too :)