Sean Tidy: The Art of Balance

Sean Tidy  is a graphic designer/illustrator based in Greater London. He has a crisp graphic style which enables him to create work for different types of bands and this will serve him well as he expands his client base. Let’s enter the world of Tidy Ink…

How did you get your first paying art job?
My first paying art job, and my first ever t-shirt design, I got through Gallows. Their guitarist Laurent asked me to design their first t-shirt – an image of Bridget Bardot with no eyes and a tattooed arm. This got nicknamed “the cock shirt” as her arm looked like a giant penis poking out of her head. However, this was a freebie for friends, but another band saw it, liked it and wanted me to design a tee for them. I think I did a bloody hammer, grey on black. Not very good.

Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before?
I am not entirely sure what my style is. I worked as a graphic designer before doing t-shirts, so there is a HUGE graphic element to my work, but I am slowly trying to get more illustrative as time goes on. It really depends what the client asks for.

Who are your artistic influences?
Music and art really. All sorts all the time. I love learning about bands/musicians/artists I never knew before. Also, I don’t feel I’m directly influenced by these people, but I do love looking to see what they have been doing whenever I get a chance: Pushead, Aaron Horkey, Drew Millward, We Three Club, God Machine, Dan Mumford, Dave Quiggle, Craig Robson, Grindesign, Raf The Might, Horsebites, etc…

What words best describe your artistic style?
Probably graphic, fun & metal. Sound dumb, but that’s probably what people look and see.

What is your work set up like?
It’s pretty sweet. I work in a flat next to my parents flat. My dads is a designer & painter and we overlook a canal with barges and stuff. Very relaxing.

When you create art for a band…Do you listen to their music during the process?
Yes definitely. I don’t think there is any other way to do it. Even if it’s not your ideal music, you have to get a feel for what the band are saying and how they put themselves across in the music.

How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
Well, first I listen to a song or two by the band. If I have a direct brief I can do initial sketches if asked, but usually I just get on with it. If there is no brief, then I do a great deal of exploration into the band and their previous merch, latest album, who their fans are, etc. Then I usually work on a couple of ideas and take them through to almost complete and then show the client. There are always amends, so it’s pointless to get a design finalized first time around. Then I’ll send over the design on a template, with colour options, and will do any amends if asked.

What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
This really depends on what the client wants. I do try to create more design with pen and ink these days, and then edit it and colour it on the computer. Can I say mixed media without sounding like a twat? If not, then I’d say a bit of both.

Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
I like to use reference images to start with, and then I let my imagination take over and see what happens.

Do the bands give you any direction?
50/50 I’d say. Sometimes you don’t deal with the band, as the designs are done through management and labels, so there I rarely a brief in these instances. Most of the time I do get a brief it’s either very detailed, or “do something like that X t-shirt on your site”.

Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
Yes, just get in contact with local bands, and start doing artwork with them. There is no better way to get more work than by word of mouth. Your t-shirt designs are a form of free advertising that people wear for you. Most people have taken years and years to get to where they are in this industry with hard work, long hours and a lot of learning. Don’t expect to be the next big thing over night.

What is your favorite project that you have ever done?
I recently was given the opportunity to work on some Metallica designs. I only had 3 days, but I was having the time of my life. They didn’t get chosen, but it was great fun. I also did the Rage Against The Machine poster for their free Finsbury Park. That was awesome.

What are you currently working on?
I have just been doing a logo for a 50′s style girl band, some t-shirt designs for a well known Rock n’ Roll drink brand, and some designs for my own clothing labels.

Do you have any dream projects?
Yes definitely. Guns n’ Roses (in their old school style), Metallica & I’d really like to work with a brand like Nike, or Adidas. Something different to the norm.

What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Today I listened to “Kill ‘em All” by Metallica, some Shadows Fall, a bit of Johnny Cash, an old Funeral for a Friend album, and I played my dad some Anthrax & Megadeth as he is going to Sonisphere and is deciding who to go see. I’ll probably put on Let Live in the car, or my own band (Chorus of Nine) as I have band practice tonight and have a new song to learn.

What artists would you like to see on MBA?
I’d like to know more about Dave Quiggle & Aaron Horkey, and how they work.

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About Vertebrae33

Through hard work and dedication, Vertebrae33 has established himself as one of the most prolific and exciting illustrators on the scene today.  He has received much acclaim as of late for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and wholly unique, raw style.