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Black Grape album art has Hockerill Street origins


By Tom Ryder


The cover to Black Grape's album Pop Voodoo (9380881)
The cover to Black Grape's album Pop Voodoo (9380881)

Although this Sunday is the first occasion that Shaun Ryder and co will play live in Bishop’s Stortford, the town has already had a part to play in Black Grape’s career.

Designer Jon Gray, of gray318, put together the artwork for the band’s well-received 2017 record Pop Voodoo. A 20-year publishing veteran, Jon has lived in Stortford throughout his freelance career.

“I work mainly in publishing but design the odd bit for music and film,” he says. “I try not to have a particular ‘style’, but if you look at the work I’ve produced, a lot of it is inky, anarchic and fairly messy!

“My wife Lucy and I moved to Stortford to start a family. I left a full-time job at Random House Publishers and worked in a studio in my garden for a number of years, spending many a lunchtime in the brilliant Portuguese cafe Santos on Hockerill Street.”

The job with Black Grape came about through Jon’s friend Tony Lyons, who has worked in music for many years and designed an album cover for last year’s Bish Bash headliner Wilko Johnson.

“Tony came to me with the idea of illustrating the Pop Voodoo cover in a similar style to the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

"I more or less came up with what became the final cover in one go. We sent it over to Universal, who liked it and sent it on to the band. Fortunately for us, they loved it. It’s very rare to get a sleeve through in one hit. Usually it gets toned down or smoothed out with changes and tweaks.

"I’m really pleased it retained the energy and speed that it was created in. We wanted to reference their previous album cover but also twist it into something new.”

Jon’s work takes him down many different avenues. He has designed trainers and shirts for Nike, book covers for Zadie Smith and Salman Rushdie, film posters, DVDs and TV credits.

“I’m very lucky,” he continues. “The Black Grape job stands out though. I loved the music from the start and it’s fantastic to be associated with such a great band – even more amazing to see them play in Stortford.

“Hats off to Twig and Annabel Smith for continuing to run a fantastic festival that the whole town can be proud of.”



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