pepper design

ART BLANCHE: Californication 

It was 1999 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers invaded designer Lawrence Azerrad’s office at Warner Records while Azerrad and the band worked on the cover art for their seventh album, Californication.

“They pretty much camped out in my office for a number of weeks – (singer) Anthony [Kiedis] would basically use my office as his and sit behind me on the couch and check in with me,” said Lawrence.

It all started with a dream: guitarist John Frusciante’s had visualized a place where, as Lawrence remembered, “the water was in the sky and the sky was in the water,” and the band wanted to use that idea for the cover.

On top of that, recent changes to the band’s lineup had inspired a vision of Lawrence’s own:

“I wanted it to [look] very much like a classic rock record – you know, John Frusciante was back and Rick Rubin was producing it. That’s why the type is all small on the top – I wanted it to feel like a classic rock record.”

Being able to create a cover that matched John’s dream was trickier than expected and technology – or, really, the lack of technology – was to blame.

“Remember, this was before Google Image,” said Lawrence.

To find the perfect pool, they had to physically audition swimming pools by driving and checking them out in person. They kept the photos of the different pools in “this old fashioned physical binder of locations, [that were] run over to [our] office by messenger” and referred to this binder until they were able to find the right one. As it happens, that pool belonged to the parents of one of Lawrence’s childhood friends.

But while the literal adventure stopped there, the metaphorical one continued on: creating the collage of the pool and sky was, again, trickier than one would envision it to be today. 

Due to the limitations of Photoshop at the time, Lawrence would mock up the cover in Photoshop on his own computer, and when he and the band were happy with the product, he would hand it off to these designers who specialized in creating movie posters who would create a “higher res version of the photo composition” to be used for the actual cover.

“They came back [with the higher res cover] and there was this type of atmosphere that made the cover a little more realistic with some kind of haze in the water on the horizon and Frusciante saw it and was like ‘No, no, no, no’ – he wanted that flat solid [look],” said Lawrence. 

“In that day and age, we relied on more printouts and comps rather than just reviewing [the cover] on screen – you’d make a physical version [of the cover] and cut it out and put it in the jewel case, and the machine at Warner was a color copy and… the colors on those, at least then, were a lot more saturated than it would be in 4-color process, which is how they would print an album package.

“They showed us the artwork separated for 4-color process – preparing it for print – [and the] blues typically dull down compared to what it is [otherwise]. Long story short, John was really disappointed; [he] was actually at the lightbooth with us when we were looking at the prints and he didn’t understand why it wasn’t the same blue that I had been showing him this whole time. So the printer guaranteed… a special blue ink for the blue of the sky because it was what they promised to do.”

Ironically enough, with all the hubbub about the color of water in the sky, the striking orange color in the pool came much more smoothly: “[it was] a happy accident… that is a photo of a flaming red sunset, but it’s naturally that color.”

Reflecting on the process, Lawrence said, “it strikes me as anachronistic now, but I guess that was before people were really [in] power using Photoshop on an individual level.”

“It was a different time and a different era,” he added.

-Dylan Singleton

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I just figured I’d put this here :) even if I end up not pursuing game design as my college major, I’ll still be learning and creating no matter what! (I’m actually working on a visual novel type thing right now…but that’s another story.)

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tagged by vishies >:U

Name: emily
Time/date: uhuh 5:10pm on 18/18/2015
Last thing I Googled: probably mojo shoujo
Birthday: 01/10/96
Gender: demigirl (she/they)
Height: 5′7″ haha
Favorite colors: blue, purple, and green
One thing that makes me happy: my otps and friends :0
Favorite movie: it’s like a tie between Rise of the Guardians, the HTTYD movies, Tangled, and Big Hero 6
Last book I read: Sapphique
Most used phrase: shion voice: disgusting” or “kyun no” (both directed at vishies) but also “ok but–” when i want to start discussions haha
Beverage of choice: Dr. Pepper
Dream job: character designer or animator :0
Ten people I’d like to learn more about: uhuhuhuhuhuh idk, anyone can. tell your followers i call you ;)