Friday, September 25, 2015

Rockin' Event Review: Debut Concert of the Hollywood Vampires

The original Hollywood Vampires consisted of a drinking group made up of rock and roll royalty. They met in the upstairs of the Rainbow Bar and Grill with an all-star line-up of members. On any given night you could find Alice Cooper, Marc Bolan, John Lennon, Keith Moon, Micky Dolenz, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, or Harry Nilsson.

The new supergroup, Hollywood Vampires, is a tribute to the classic rock and roll lifestyle of the 1970s. It is a celebration of a life of glamorous excess, living life on the road, and pouring your heart out on a stage night after night. It is a bunch of friends getting together and jamming out, paying tribute to a bunch of friends getting hammered together. The best part is this current supergroup is all the A-listers just like the friends of old, with Alice Cooper on vocals, Johnny Depp on rhythm guitar, Joe Perry (of Aerosmith) on lead guitar, Duff McKagan (of Guns N’ Roses) on bass, and Matt Sorum (of Guns N’ Roses) on drums.

The album is unlike any tribute album I have ever heard. It starts off with an intro by Christopher Lee that leads into "Raise the Dead." The song promises to do just that with the rest of the album as it marches forward. It delivers with covers of immortal rock classics that can never die. The last song on the album "Dead Drunk Friends" is an original lighthearted shanty, toasting all those who left us with their great music.

As soon as I heard about this collaboration I knew I had to make a pilgrimage to see them. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to their debut show at the historic Roxy Theatre, next-door to the original Hollywood Vampire's haunt. After securing a spot in line and making new friends we headed over to have drinks in the Rainbow Bar and Grill.

We were lucky enough to get a look around upstairs. I was not expecting what we found!

This liar of legend was a three level pirate ship!

As the afternoon rolled on we watched the whole band arrive one by one in conspicuous black town cars and SUVs. We got to peek into their sound check through the unlocked front door. The Hollywood Vampires went through the entire night's playlist and it was amazing to have a first glimpse of them all on stage and to hear them charge through the playlist.

I was surprised how few people were actually in line early. By the time the sound check was completed there were many more memorabilia sellers and paparazzi then there were fans standing in line.

When we got inside I snagged the best spot in the house with the best view of the entire show. I was front row center just feet away from where Alice Cooper would be singing. There was no barricade in this tiny little venue and the stage was at hip level. Johnny Depp would be to my left and Joe Perry to my right. I knew where they would be based on the sound check. As the curtain raised the vampires all appeared dressed in black, red, and white.


I was in classic rock and roll heaven. This is the 12th time I had seen Joe F*cking Perry perform and as always he didn't disappoint. Getting to see Alice Cooper that close up was a once in a lifetime moment. And did I mention Johnny Depp? Johnny has joined Aerosmith on stage many times. Seeing him as a special guest was a goal of mine. I never would have guessed I would see him perform an entire set! 

Then the guests started to take the stage. One by one the stage became flooded with talent I have never seen play together. Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) was the first to join the group.

Then Geezer Butler (of Black Sabbath) came out and replaced Duff McKagan on bass.

The all star lineup continued with Perry Ferrel (of Jane's Addiction).

Then Ke$ha came out wailing "Whole Lotta Love" in a duet with Alice.

Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Star) replaced Matt Sorum on drums. And I was on full musical overload.

The caliber of talent on that stage was the highest rock and roll tribute their "Dead Drunk Friends" could have asked for. The greats, covering music of the greats, made the show a significant moment in rock and roll history.

I was dancing like no one was watching and really had the time of my life that evening. I was in the middle of all the action and couldn't have asked for a more complete experience. The show was over in less than an hour. A highlight of the evening was shaking Johnny Depp's hand. He made a real effort to connect with as many fans as possible. Alice and Johnny came out to sign autographs after the show. I was completely overtaken by paparazzi and large men shoving to get autographs. But I didn't care. The experience of that performance will be something I will never forget.

For a moment I got to step back in time and hear this music as it was back in the glory days. There on the Sunset Strip, in a tiny club, rock music was king. I imagined myself back at the original Woodstock with Steven Tyler banging on pots and pans in the mud while Jimi Hedrix rocked the stage. Thanks to the Hollywood Vampires I got to truly live in an era gone by.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

X Files Shirt Design for Threadless

Threadless is currently holding an X Files T-shirt design competition. Since I am rewatching every episode of my favorite FBI team I just had to enter!

Here is my submission. The contest runs through September 13th, 2015. If you like it please CLICK HERE and vote for it!

I also like it as a poster! Just for fun here is a bit of work in progress.

This is my original sketch. I decided against putting aliens in the final.

Here is the original vector art I created before I changed the perspective. I think the perspective gives the design more energy.

Whether it is a poster for Steven Tyler or a favorite TV show, have you ever been inspired to create by something you love?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Concert Scrapbooks: 15 Years of Art and Music

Recently I realized I have been a professional graphic designer for 10 years. But I have been honing my craft for over 15 years on one personal project, my concert scrapbooks. My concert scrapbooks follow my artistic development in the most personal way possible. They combine my life, personal interests, and unedited creativity in a timeline that can be tracked back 15+ years. They are not pristine pages made with templates, sheet protectors, and premade scrapbooking adornments. They are collages of my photos, momentos and ephemera from events, and all kinds of craft supplies creatively documenting my experiences. Each book shows real wear and tear from over the years.

My concert scrapbooks are the creative outlet synthesis of my love for art and music. Not only do I experience great live music but I get to relive the show while designing the pages. To date I have filled up 10 scrapbooks with musical adventures.


The 11th scrapbook is in progress. This fangirl is torn as to what should be on the cover. It might be Jack White's last acoustic show on the cover or maybe the upcoming Hollywood Vampires show in Hollywood, CA at the Roxy in September.

Early on it became obvious that flat items such as autographs, ticket stubs, guitar picks, setlists, pictures, and backstage passes are ideal for scrapbooking. My favorite items to document shows are setlists and photos. They show the experience and give an account of what was played. I also like to challenge myself to get autographs, backstage passes, and photos with the band. All of which are easier to obtain from front row.

As the years go on you can see how I have evolved as an artist. I use more graphic minded layouts and solutions. I explore all kinds of design elements and techniques. I have featured photos of a few below.

Using different textures in design gives pages depth and variation.

I have used different materials such as duct tape.

I have also created unique textures with ribbon and fabics.

Actual dried flowers can be found on pages.

And I have even used fire to create different effects. I have learned how to work with all kinds of materials because of my concert scrapbooks and that knowledge has been indefinitely valuable to me in all my artistic pursuits.

I have also used these books as practices in layout.

Sometimes I would come up with layouts before the show and have artists sign on the scrapbook page. Having the artist sign wherever they wanted on the pages tied the book to the actual event. Being held by the artists truly made the scrapbook part of that day.

As time goes on you can see how my layouts become more advanced.

I even utilized see-through elements on pages in my layouts.

I also like to create interactive elements. Seeing both sides of a ticket or a guitar pick are common in the books. But my favorite elements are the interactive and elaborate pop-up pages.

My concert scrapbooks are by far the most in-depth art project I have ever undertaken. They are a legacy of creativity and adventure that showcases my talents in a way a portfolio never will. Photographs will never do them justice.

I invite you to pay me a visit sometime and page through them with me. You can see all 10 times I saw Steven Tyler live and all the other concerts turned scrapbook pages.