🎵 IT065: Zone Out
✏️ Jeffrey Kam
🗓 04.06.20

Jeffrey is an illustator based around Toronto, Canada.

Hi Jeffrey! Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

Whenever I need to relax at the end of the day and start working on an illustration, I look to music as a way to not think about other stresses and responsibilities. This theme and method of relaxation was what I wanted to focus on for the design of the tape and the artwork, which led to a collection of my favourite indie and psychedelic pop. While others might find instrumentals more relaxing, I find the consistent rhythms and the building momentum of pop helpful for stabilizing my mood and to creatively focus on an illustration.

The playlist starts off with a good collection of chill tunes. “Stay Away from My Baby” by Banes World has been a staple for me; I love its swaying instrumentals throughout the song. The playlist slowly ramps up to some of my recent favourite more upbeat tunes (“Go Out Fighting” by Dr. Dog & “Breathe Deeper” by Tame Impala). Having something a bit faster as a “pick-me-up” in the collection helps keep my brain active, since I’m usually needing this playlist while I’m tired and ready to work on art. Afterwards, the playlist ramps back down. Ending off the collection are some lighter, but still upbeat tunes (“Revvin’ My Cj7” by Summer Salt & “Still Beating” by Mac DeMarco).

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

Going into this piece, I knew I wanted to draw a dry desert scene, something I’ve done before and wanted to revisit. I love the emptiness of the space and thought it would be appropriate for the playlist as a metaphor for an empty mind as a relaxed state. Afterwards, it came to a bunch of sketches to decide a direction for the actual subject matter and composition. I decided to go with a simpler and emptier direction than my usual detailed work to really hone in on the theme of relaxation. I liked the idea of a simple interaction between the person and a curious frog and just looked to focus on the intimacy of the moment.

For final art, my usual process is linework and graphite, scanning that, and then digital colouring with some touch ups. A jumping off point for colour was my growing obsession with gradients. I knew I wanted a smooth, sunset-like transition for the sky. For the ground, I happened upon this “rainbow-road-oil” palette, which I was happy with. After solidifying the atmosphere, the rest of the colours just fell into place.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
2008, Bella Union
Original Art: “Netherlandish Proverbs” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

I don’t look at album art a lot and enough, but memorable ones from an artist I’ve binged in the past are the Fleet Foxes’ album covers, especially their 2008 album. The painterly rustic detailed landscape is composed and organized really beautifully and the drama happening in the art really matches the folklore that lives in the music.

“Lucy” - Still Woozy ft. ODIE
2018, Self-released
Illustration: Amiya Kahn-Tietz

Still Woozy’s album art is memorable to me as well, but as strange pairings. I love the strangeness and the media focus of the illustrations. “Lucy” is probably my favourite artwork of the collection and the song has some of my favourite lyrics.

Locked out of my hotel room w no clothes - Julian Glander
2018, Self-released
Illustration: Julian Glander

As for musical projects, Julian Glander is a 3D artist who occasionally matches his work with some fun music. I’ll let my favourite song from him speak for itself.

“Love Will” - Jack Stauber
2019, self-released
Artist: Jack Stauber

And Jack Stauber! His claymation and animations are so fun to watch and he makes stellar bops. His work makes me really miss the days of old television that involved weird puppets and characters, like the Canadian fever dream kids’ show, Nanalan’.

2000-2006, CBC
Creators: Jamie Shannon & Jason Hopley

What did you listen to growing up?

Embarrassingly and for a short moment as a child, I was very into Celine Dion. Afterwards, I only really remember the music my sister would play on the way home from school. Notably Hillary Duff, My Chemical Romance, and Blaqk Audio. Eventually, she got into C-pop and K-pop and our tastes diverged. From then on, it was just the Maplestory and GunZ soundtracks. I was too focussed on gaming at that age.

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Dr. Dog, BROCKHAMPTON, Fleet Foxes. Phasing a bit out of Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala.

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

I’m starting to have more free time, so more personal art and comics! Right now, I really want to focus on short stories and comics. I’m hoping to finish a black-and-white comic by the end of the Summer for self-publishing, fingers crossed. But leaving myself open for new illustration opportunities!

Where can we find you?

You can see my full portfolio on my website. I also post complete work and sketches regularly on my Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks Jeffrey 👋️

Banes World - Stay Away from My Baby // dvsn - Mood // Still Woozy - Goodie Bag // RICEWINE - Photo // The Marías - Ruthless // Jakob - All Your Love // TEMPOREX - Georgie // boy pablo - tkm // The Marías - I Don't Know You // Goth Babe - Weekend Friend // Dr. Dog - Go Out Fighting // Tame Impala - Breathe Deeper // BROCKHAMPTON - SUMMER // Jakob - Perfect Sweet Blue // Jakob - You Might Be Sleeping // Summer Salt - Revvin' My Cj7 // Mac DeMarco - Still Beating ︎