"I'm no different to anyone. Yes, I have fame and wealth and talent, but I certainly don't consider myself any better than anyone who has no fame, wealth or talent. People fascinate me. They're amazing! Life fascinates me! And I'm no more fascinated by my own life than by anyone else's."
Prince was an amazing artist and that's understating it. I think the whole world stopped the day we all heard that he passed. He certainly was a man that not only marched to his own drum but invented the sort of drum he would want to march to. He never was concerned about convention, nor parameters. He became a creative force to be reckoned with and left an indelible impression on this world he left behind him. He has inspired me as an artist as he has inspired and touched millions with his music, his words and his personal style.
I wasn't, originally, planning on participating in Illustration Friday this week. However, when I saw that IllustrationFriday.com had posted "PRINCE" as the word for the week, I just HAD to create an illustration in tribute… I just HAD to!
I've been listening to Prince's music since I can remember. Of course, when I was that young, it was my brother who listened to him and I just got to eavesdrop with my ear. At that age I didn't know who he was, really, but I learned more about him as I got older. Some of my favorite songs are the work of Prince and I can't help but feel grateful that he shared his wonderful talent with me and the rest of the world.
Another fond Prince Memory I have is when I was in college. There used to be this AWESOME Record Shop in downtown Savannah called RPM. Myself as well as the rest of the college crowd bought all of their music there. I learned about Indie Rock there and was introduced to so many new music artists every time I visited. They also sold the most amazing large format posters that were the envy of every college dorm student if you bought one. Anyway, I digress…
I was in RPM one afternoon and was looking through their Cd's when my ears "perked-up" over what they were playing over their stereo system that day. This was well before the invention of Smart Phones and the SHAZAM Phone App (the app that "listens" and then tells you what song is playing.) SO since I was not a time-traveler form the future with those tech resources, I had to do what Every Single human being had to do back then…. Ask the Record Shop Clerk,"Hey! What record are you playing?"
As it turns out, they were playing a record by a band called DUMP (terrible name but great band.) Dump is really more of a one-man-band-side project of James McNew (You all probably know him more as the bassist for Yo La Tengo.) Dump had just released a cover record that consisted of nothing but PRINCE covers called That Skinny Motherfucker with a High Voice ( Lyric from Prince's song Bob George). To date it is one of my personal Top 5 favorite albums. And even though all the songs were lo-fi 4-track home recordings, the strength of the original material made them shine. I can't even tell you how many times I listened to that record. At least 1,000 times that first year I owned it. I already had a personal connection to the original songs when Prince released them, so it endeared me more to them to hear them reinvented in a new way. And even though Prince was not a big fan of having his work covered, I feel that maybe he might have secretly enjoyed McNew's creativity. After all, Prince was a man who embraced creativity and executed his muse in ways we have never before seen.
So this week I paid tribute to The Purple One, on of my favorite music artists of all times, Prince. The inspiration for my illustration is obvious. My favorite Prince song is, as you may have guessed, Raspberry Beret. A song about a woman that the singer falls in love with as soon as he sees her, not really for her beauty but for her tenacious and confident individuality. She walks 'In' through the 'out' door. She doesn't follow convention. She is herself and she wears her raspberry beret as a badge of her free spirit. I just love that sentiment that a raspberry beret conjures within me if I see one. I actually used to own a raspberry beret for that very reason. I would wear it, not as a badge but as a reminder for what it represented to me: Creative Freedom, Confidently Independent.
SO I thought it would be a lot of fun to celebrate those fond memories by "going literal" with this piece and illustrating The Purple One as a raspberry wearing a beret.
I spent an evening researching photos of Prince and caricaturing some of my favorite photos with some of his classic facial expressions. I wanted people to look at this illustration and say to themselves,"that look is SO 'Prince'!" I then decided on a pose or body gesture that I felt would work for this piece. I knew I wanted his arms, legs and hair to be the leafy part of the raspberry. I also wanted them to be sort of short and stumpy, exaggerating the caricature. Prince had an amazing fashion style all his own. I wanted to reference it but I didn't want to dress my Prince-berry in a costume. I wanted the fashion to be limited and focus on the beret. So I settled for purple boots: subtle, sexy but not over powering his beret. I also deviated form the color of the beret somewhat out of necessity and somewhat out of concept. Since there would already be so much red in the body of the Prince-berry, I didn't want the beret to just blend in. So in order to make it stand out I made it Purple and I made it Plaid. Prince has been often referred to as "The Purple One" so I wanted to use purple for the hat his boots and his face makeup.
The process for this illustration is as I have done for many of these int he past. I sketch, I ink then I scan my inked image in to create a digital collage with the finished color.
That's pretty much the extent of what I can say for this illustration. I hope you all enjoy him and are inspired to break out your Prince albums and re-discover your love of The Purple One. I wish EVERYONE a Great rest of their Friday and leave you with a bit of music to kick off your weekend. One song is the classic favorite that inspired this week's illustration. The second is my favorite track of Dumps Prince cover record. ENJOY! :0)
until next time, friends...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all,
keep making art.