Over a year ago I got an email from a woman called Gina Moccio from a website called Vessel Collective based in Florida. Gina was looking for illustrators to take part in an ambitious exhibition inspired by an interview between herself and the band 'Say Anything'. She wanted each artist to take a song from the bands latest album and produce a piece of work inspired by the title. I had been paired with the song 'Death For My Birthday' which explored the idea of living a life consumed by the thought of the after life (quite heavy subject matter for me) anyway it seemed like an interesting idea so back in October I completed my piece and sent it to the US to be part of an exhibition, which has taken until now to be finished. Here you can see my entry, and there is more on the full exhibition here on the Vessel website. My rational behind the piece can be read below if you are interested (please bear in mind I find writing this kind of thing difficult!)
As it was a new experience for me to create artwork in response to a song, I thoroughly researched the lyrics and meaning behind it before I started work on creating the piece. An interview with the singer shed light on the inspiration behind the song; The idea for 'Death for My Birthday' arose from observing how some people become obsessed with the notion of an afterlife and ‘never really… are thankful for what they have because they’re so focused on the notion that they will eventually die' My intention was to show how one can become completely detached from the pleasure of life when they are consumed with their eventual fate.
The challenge of this piece was in finding a balance; creating something that delivered the powerful message of the song adeptly, without being overly morbid. A revelation came when examining renaissance art, which has heavy emphasis on life and death, demonstrated by deep and complex symbols. By juxtaposing symbols of death with those from a children’s birthday party I aim to communicate the sinister message of the song; the subject is dressed as a clown, a tragic cliché for fun and frivolity and wears a ruff, indicative of medieval dress, but it also chokes him as the inevitable clutches of death might. His hand sits loose holding a pocket watch, a constant reminder of the inevitability of passing time, and his gaze looks down, through the viewer like he deep in thought...
The composition is intended to lead the viewer around the piece picking up the symbols and putting them back together to come up with their own interpretation. This piece aims to offer an interpretation of some profound issues, in a hope that the viewer may pause, look twice and take something away with them.