GRAPHIC WORLD - CHRIS "SICK" MOORE IN INTERVIEW ! "Stay Sick, Turn Blue, Cool it with the Boom-Booms"
First of all, could you introduce yourself, where are you from and how did you discover the music we love ?
Hi there, I'm an illustrator, DJ (vinyl only obviously), gig promoter, record and shellac collector, cigarbox guitar maker, bottleneck slide maker, whittler, tiki cocktailier, voodoo doodler and saw painter from sunny Brighton. I've always loved music and played guitar in bands at school but I think my unnatural obsession really started when a friend played me Off the Bone by the Cramps. Virtually all the music I love comes from them and their massive record collection.
What is the origin of your nickname Chris "sick" Moore ?
I started a garage punk clubnight with some mates 15 years ago (and still going strong) called "STAY SICK!" after the Cramps album. We ended up all getting the surname "Sick" like the Ramones and it stuck.
|Chris "Sick" Moore|
I actually never listen to music when I draw really. If I'm doing a sleeve for a band, I'll listen to their music and make notes, maybe a little sketch. I find music a bit too distracting so I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. These B-movies have influenced the way I layout artwork and quite often I will use the same fonts and style they movie posters have to catch your attention.
Which artists have inspired you and why?
Jim Flora is the main one, beautiful, simple and sinister midcentury cartoons that Derek Yaniger has taken to new heights and depths.
Did you study drawing?
No. I studied playing the guitar and then gave up. It was only a way of saving money that I started doing gig posters for my clubnight.
No, it would be nice but I don't really know that many
How does the creation of an illustration start for you, do you have a muse who inspires you?
Lots of visual research. Photos and going through artbooks and old record sleeves. I pick out the bits I like and write a list of what I want to include, colours, brushes etc. Then I sketch, then a final sketch and render it on my ipad. I have no muse unfortunately, unless it's a record sleeve, in which, I guess the music is. I listen to the album while I sketch.
Do you work with models, photos, perhaps you make cut-outs that you copy?
I work from photos if it needs to look like a specific person but most of it is in my head.
Tell us about the evolution of a drawing, from the sketch to the final result. For example, your cover of The Courettes.
The Courettes one was fun. I'm always trying to crowbar B-Movie poster ideas into my work. From the colour palette to the font, and this one I took the Frankenstein and Bride as a starting point. I love lime green and red and so that was always going to be the colours for this one. Sketch twice, and then render it on the computer.
Do you work on paper or on computer, if both: could you tell us what the advantages are in your opinion? What software do you use?
Both, I grew up analogue so pencil and paper is my thing. but when it comes to refining the sketch and colouring it, it's best to do it on the computer. But the computer bit is not the creative bit. I have lots of rubbing outs and scribbles and notes when I sketch. Then the computer is converting that into a refined illustration. I use Adobe Illustrator mainly but moving over to Affinity Designer on my Ipad so I can use the ipencil for a more organic drawing style. It's also much cheaper and does what I need it to do.
How did your collaboration with Stag-O-Lee, Trash Wax and Chaputa Records start ?
Could you introduce these labels to us?
Stag-O-Lee is based in Germany and releases loads of great pre-60s stuff, dead cool, obscure compilations. I've compiled a few, from 40s Jazz to 50s party trash to a couple of Beatnik comps.
Trash Wax is all about rock n roll, the trashier the better. New bands and issuing stuff that never made it to vinyl from back in the day. If you love the Cramps (and you should) check them out.
Chaputa release the best garage bands doing the rounds today. nuff said.
Do you meet the artists before creating the covers of their albums? Have you ever done an illustration for musicians you don't like ?
I never work with people I don't like, life's too short to deal with them. Fortunately, everyone I meet are very nice and dig my art beforehand (otherwise I probably wouldn't get the job). Most of the time it's the label that contact me so I work for them and don't really meet the band.
When you have finished creating a cover or a poster, do you have the rights to it? How does it work legally?
Legally, I own the rights to the illustration, but they own the rights to the sleeve artwork. It's confusing, and I don't really deal with the boring side of things. I'm unlikely to use the illustration for anything else but sometimes I recycle parts.
No, before the pandemic it was a bit better. But when no one is gigging and releasing records, there was no need for posters and sleeves. It's better since the end of lockdown but there's not as much money around for design I don't think. Since Brexit, bands are more expensive to put on so there isn't the budget for bespoke gig posters. I help manage a pub 3 days a week, DJ, and run a pop-up Tiki cocktail company called Tiki Monkey to earn a bit more brass.
You have also created a fanzine, tell us about this adventure !
I love fanzines from the 80s and 90s. Tons of spelling mistakes, cheap black and white photocopies, but with all the passion in the world poured into them. That has been lost. People try for something slick these days and the raw power of a fanzine is lost.
Sadly I have no time for reading anymore but if I can get a copy of Bananas I'm happy. I love the physical nature of vinyl, fanzines, etc rather than screens. The process of limited technology of black and white photocopies, limited numbers of pages etc resulting in a piece of ephemera that only a few people will read. Blogs have the luxury of google images and wiki to get their info, and an endless amount of space to publish it to the world. I like blogs too but it's not quite as special
Do you consult music websites or blogs regularly ?
No. too busy sketching
Do you collect records ? What kind of music interests you ? Do you only like garage punk ?
I collect records, lots. From Jazz & Swing of the 30s and 40s, to Blues, rockabilly, R&B, RnR, Surf of the 50s and 60s, Garage Punk and Ye-Ye of the 60s, Punk, Funk and Soul, Country of the 70s and endless dead-end genres of novelty records. I also collect 78s and DJ shellac under the name Swingin' Dick's. We have a couple of compilations on Stag-O-Lee.
I've done 2 radio shows. The first was Brighton Fuzzbox where I turned up to gigs and recorded bands live and played demos and self-releases. The next was the Stay Sick Radio Show which was another way to promote gigs and bands I was putting on and then new records I had just bought. It was fun.
You are sometimes a DJ, is this an extension of your work as a musical artist ?
I have DJed as part of Stay Sick for 15 years, Swingin' Dick's for 10 years and then a couple of nights on my own Diggin' Up Bones and Ye-Ye A Go-Go. They usually lead to compilations that are release on Stag-O-Lee like Coolsville (a beatnik comp), Swingin' Dick's Shellac Shakers and Jungle Jive (swing comps) and Sicksville (50s/60s novelty dance records). I do the designs so DJing and illustration are linked. Same with the posters I do for bands I put on.
Any Jim Flora, Cliff Roberts and Derek Yaniger, there's a long list of people that are far more talented than me
What work of art has been so important to you that if it had not existed your life would have been changed? Why or why not?
A hard question to answer. When I was young, Pollock blew my mind when I first saw it in a gallery. the overwhelming size of it. It made me understand the beauty of mess. Passion and expression over skill and conventional views of what is art. That is something I hope to display in my art and music. A lively trashy messy love of art, full of wonky lines. Nothing I do is perfect and pretty.
Can you name some current artists who inspire you and whose drawings fascinate you?
Olaf Jens, Derek Yaniger, Johnny Hannah, Marcelle Bontempi, Pippa Toole, Shawn Dickinson. I usually look at illustrators from back in the day but these guys are amazing.
What advice would you give to a beginner in the world of music drawing?
Not sure I'm the right person to give advice. I fell into this job by accident. Try and get the essence of the music, do a lot of visual research. Ask lots of questions of what the band and label want before you do anything. Get them to do a mood board on pinterest. Saves a lot of time if they do half the work!
Stay Sick, Turn Blue, Cool it with the Boom-Booms