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Awesome outsider art bags Kate Boy Album Cover of the Month

November’s Album Cover of the Month, as voted for by Creative Commission’s international talent pool — a global community of artists, designers, directors, photographers and writers — has been won by Stockholm-based electronic outfit Kate Boy, for their album One.

The creative team behind One was spearheaded by Lee Griggs, a Madrid-based special effects artist, and Stewart Armstrong, a designer working in Edinburgh.

Creative Commission caught up with Lee and Stewart to discuss the glorious victory in detail.

So, you’ve won an award voted for exclusively by creatives. How does that feel?

Lee: “Great. It’s an honour and privilege to be voted for by such a large group of creative people. I really value other creatives’ opinion, so yeah, it’s an honour.”

Stewart: “I was really chuffed when I saw the email that we’d won. It feels particularly special as the whole process was so enjoyable. Everyone involved was so creative and organised, to cap such a pleasurable job with an award from my peers, it’s a wonderful feeling.”

How would you describe the artistic vision?

Stewart: “It’s a strange, Avant Garde, haunting, futuristic portrait. I’d almost describe it as outsider art. When I first had look at Lee’s work online, I was expecting a slick design portfolio, but it was a highly technical thing, full of tests and experiments. It’s art, but doesn’t really come from the sort of traditional place you would expect to see that kind of work.”

Lee: “I’ve been creating visual effects for a long time, but I wouldn’t say I’m a freelance creative as such, in fact, I’ve turned down a lot of freelance work requests because they didn’t appeal. My day job is testing special effects software — and making demos and tutorials. I work for a company called Solid Angle, who make Arnold, the global illumination rendering software. It’s a post-production tool that lights, shades and renders scenes. You might have seen Arnold in action in films such as The Martian, Birdman, The Hunger Games, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs….and loads more. It’s particularly good at rendering hair and fur — the current art projects I’m working on have a lot to do with showing off how great at hair Arnold is!”

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How did you come to be involved?

Lee: “Kate Akhurst, the lead singer of Kate Boy, was looking through some online profiles and blogs and stumbled across me. She approached me and we got chatting. We really got on, and I admire her work, so I agreed to do it.”

Stewart: “Fiction Records gave me a call and asked me to speak to the band. Kate Boy have a strong sense of how they want to present themselves visually. They’d already decided to work with Lee, and it was up to me to help contextualise Lee’s amazing art with what they already had. We felt that the cover was so strong, and in fact, it was best to ‘get out of the way’ with the design, and further elevate the art. We did that by presenting the end physical product as shrink-wrapped vinyl/CD and putting all the cover typography on stickers. We kept the typography through the rest of the packaging really simple, not too many fonts and sizes, to add to the effect of clearing the way for Lee’s art.”

How involved were the band?

Lee: “Kate was very much involved. She went to a 3D scanning lab in Australia where they took a 3D scan of her head and sent me the raw data back in Madrid. From there, I created the image in Maya, which is the most popular software used in film and TV special effects. I then rendered it in Arnold, working with the fine detail of the light and the shading around each of the curves. It took quite a long time to do, as how the curves are created took quite a bit of fiddling to get it just how we wanted. At one point, we had too many curves. The aim was simplify it to the point where it was abstract, yet still be recognisable as Kate. That’s a very fine line, and we took our time, collaborating until we were satisfied we’d hit the mark.”

Stewart: “Kate knows what she likes, and why, yet still leaves you to express yourself as you interpret her ideas — which makes her an excellent person to collaborate with. The art direction sat very much with Kate.”

“What Lee and Kate created is a really beautiful piece of art. With the front cover kind of done, I was more involved on the cd booklet and 12inch inner. We had the idea to take some really close crops of Lee’s images and show off sections of it you wouldn’t necessarily hone in on when looking at the cover. When you zoom in, you can see how it’s not all perfectly symmetrical, which gives it an organic feel. Once you get to see how intricate the work is, that makes it all the more intriguing.”

- written by Glenn Hickling

For more information on Solid Angle and Arnold, check out Lee Griggs or Solid Angle

To see more work by Stewart Armstrong, check out his portfolio on Tumblr.

Kate Boy’s ‘One’ is in all good record emporiums, right now.

Originally published at

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