Although a plethora of artists influence my work, ranging from classic sci-fi and fantasy artists to the old masters of surrealism, one of the biggest artistic influences for me has been that of musician Peter Gabriel.
Not only does Gabriel's music inspire me artistically, but it was the accompanying visuals to his work that originally caught my eye. The images are always a perfect match for the music. His groundbreaking videos to tracks such as "Steam" and "Digging in the Dirt" absolutely blew me away, but it was really his early album covers by design company Hipgnosis which really inspired me to become a graphic designer. The raindrops on the car bonnet of his debut album; the torn away scratch marks on the second release and the iconic melted face of his third album all made a significant and lasting impression on me.
I remember at the age of 15, when I first discovered his music and started buying up his back catalogue with what little spending money I had – back then, CDs cost no less than £15 a piece, so I'd find myself doing odd jobs for my grandmother and babysitting for the family across the street, in order to save up enough to buy these sacred albums! The first Gabriel album I bought was 1992's Us, just after it's release, followed by his best-of compilation, Shaking the Tree (on cassette – remember those?!), and in the fold-out inlay card, there was a series of tiny thumbnails of his album covers, and these absolutely fascinated me. I'd walk into HMV and find the albums and stare longingly at the full-size covers, quite often earmarking the next album on my purchase list by cover preference!
During my GCSE year at school, I drew an A2-size version of Gabriel's classic So album cover in my art class – my art teacher went on to tell me how he had seen him performing with Genesis at Sheffield City Hall in the early 70s. That same piece of artwork was presented as part of my portfolio when I was interviewed for art college, and to my delight, the lecturer interviewing me, instantly recognised it.
If I ever get the chance to meet Gabriel (it's high on my list of ambitions!), I'd want to thank him not only for providing a soundtrack to my life, but for inspiring my entire career in design and art. Even his work ethic (decade-long gaps between albums aside) is an inspiration, and I would just love to visit his Real World Studios and feel the creative buzz in the atmosphere. I've always been a believer that places, rooms or buildings can have certain creative vibes, and that place must be bursting with them!