Back in 2001, Natalie Merchant released her third solo album, titled Motherland. Her record company was about to send the first promotional single, "Just Can't Last," to radio and needed to commission a cover. Typically, only the radio station will receive the promotional single, at least such was the case with this one, but the coolness factor was still quite high.
3 options were requested of the participating illustrators. Being somewhat excited about the prospect of its use, I thought to gauge my chances by asking how may illustrators would be submitting. The wise-gal on the other end of my probably rotary phone said, "Just one, but he has only one arm." I took the hint and turned my focus toward creating the best 3 options I could muster. Ms. Merchant would then be among those making the final decision.
I sent them off...and waited...and waited...and waited...until? -- nope, false alarm...waited...followed-up...waited. I held my breath long enough to deduce that Natalie Merchant said, "'Thank You,' but no thanks." Oddly enough, it was with this album that she kind of fell out of sight from the popular music scene -- an unfortunate snubbing from radio I can't help but think would have turned out differently had they chosen different cover art for that first single.
My goal with these was to reflect the ethereal and lush feeling of her music by creating a visual interpretation of the richness, texture, and emotion her songs embrace. I also wanted to reflect a bit of the mystery that she seems to have. Her face lends itself perfectly to such an illustration. I wanted to let it arise with just enough detail from a sea of darkness, still capturing the intensity in her eyes.
Whenever I have the chance to illustrate a musician, I wear out their CD gleaning inspiration as I work myself into the zone. For this project, they sent over a live disk and Ophelia. I love live disks.
I'm most pleased with with the one in which she's peering to the side.