Tom Heinan

Check out The Machinery of Progress!

I had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate on album artwork with musician, aviator, engineer/programmer Tom Heinan this year. How could a person feel anything but awe at a creative connection? I saw a person through the ether making something, and I couldn't say why I offered to participate. I didn't have a nicely honed style or methodology to offer. I just had some free time and all the mindfk trappings of a conceptual painter's education. I was perfectly poised to make a mess, and I half expected someone with 'Illustrator' or 'Designer' on a business card to step in and save me from this folly!

But, Tom was sweet and open and interested in conversing and going through a process to find something that felt right for his work. And what can I say? It was irresistible! It just felt great to go through those steps and challenges. It was a wonderful learning experience for me, so good that I couldn't stop working through endless permutations of the project even when it was 'done'.

First round, first convo:

Above are some early mockups and threads of thinking. I found myself in this incredibly uncertain place of not wanting to force an outcome, but being in love with certain 'outcomes' during visual research. Tom sent me an early version of his album and some beautiful imagery possibilities from masters in digital illustration and animation. I made a couple of pinterest boards Atmospherics + Hard Lines and Stuff People Wear (which was just these highly compelling and sexy CT scans of space suits). Lots of wishful thinking, and then checking in with myself. What processes do I have access to with reasonable efficiency, so I'm not just dreaming and promising...?

So, the conversations continued, and we kept going.

Above is the 2nd round of dreaming and mockups, and a masterful WPA poster that I am in complete love with. After some discussion, we narrowed down subject matter and started to track towards the final image.

Something about me, I feel a strong attachment to gritty, atmospheric greys and monochromatic ranges. Then, I get very tactile and gestural to the point of self-destruct. I was raised on Joan Mitchell and Giacometti. So, I was in some new territory here.

Once we were relatively ok with the composition, content, and relative simplicity, I had to build in the color strategically...

but completely lacking forethought...

and entirely based on happy accidents:

This is the final image I sent Tom:

And here are a few alternates that I fell into: