I have wanted to design for the music industry for as long as I can remember, so when Heitor Crespo asked me to create his album artwork, I was very excited about the opportunity.
Heitor is a Brazilian session musician and guitar virtuoso for Graceland's Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists. In other words, he is Brazil's James Burton. In 2020, Heitor recorded a James Burton tribute album, and for the release of the album and a single, he asked me to design the artwork.
First up: The single cover for Heitor's recording of Elvis Presley's superhit Suspicious Minds.
Heitor was involved all along the way. Centred around his portrait, he wanted a design from the land where psychedelia borders on pop art in bold, bright colours, reminiscent of the late sixties when 'Suspicious Minds' was first released. When I set up in my studio with my coloured pencils, I knew I wanted the drawing to reflect suspicion: Outwardly, displaying blind faith while, inwardly, suspecting betrayal. Adding an eye to the back of Heitor's hand did the trick. The eyeball is intentionally misplaced to give you the feeling that something is off.
Heitor specifically requested the use of paisley inspired by James Burton's paisley guitar. In plenty of sixties posters and album art, letters are used as design elements to serve a dual function of words and shapes. I wanted to give Heitor's cover that same psychedelic feel, so instead of going for a prototypical sixties font, I combined Heitor's request for paisley with the need for a cover title and drew 'Suspicious Minds' in paisley. What at first appears to be a pattern turns out to be words.
For me, it is a dream to work with musicians. Other artists are kin. They are my kind of people. Still, despite dealing in similar trades, how do a musician from Sao Paolo and an illustrator from Denmark get to collaborate on a project? In this particular case, through the Strawberry Fields gates in Liverpool.
In the spring of 2019, I created an art print for the Strawberry Fields reopening in Liverpool and shared my original drawing on Instagram. For me, the most exciting part about Instagram - the insatiable content monster - is that it enables you to connect with people halfway around the globe. To connect with fellow Beatles enthusiasts, I liked a bunch of photos from Strawberry Fields. Among them, a picture of Heitor sitting on the red gates. And here we are, working together on his album.