Illustrated Tapes 126: OCD
Curated by Jack Snelling

Jack is an illustrator and animator from Weston-super-Mare, now based in Brighton

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Heya Jack. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

My tape is called “OCD”, and is loosely themed around my experience of living with obsessive- compulsive disorder (which developed when I was 14 and was diagnosed by 18). Four of the songs I literally banned myself from listening to for years because I was afraid that they would influence or cause me to do things I didn’t want to, which set a pattern of obsessional thinking that I would try to remedy through things like avoidance and developing certain compulsions.

A lot of the songs have a certain repetitive quality that I felt mirrored what it can feel like to be locked in an obsessive pattern, others I’ve included because they have an absurd, silly approach and I tried to end with some hopeful uplifting tracks.

I do now listen to these songs, and love them all, it just took me a long time to be able sit and listen to them without massive spikes of anxiety... they’re just songs after all.

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

I wanted to make something that wasn’t too intense, but still had a little bit of an anxious feeling. I also wanted to have bunches of things, like flowers, balloons, balls, stairs etc. that were completely identical bar one, something that breaks up the repetition.

Originally I had something much larger, a six-row pyramid that had lots of different motifs on different cubes. As I was making it though I realised that there were elements I liked most (the figure, the balloons and the dandelions) and the rest just felt like padding; I wasn’t enjoying drawing them, so I just cut them and refined it into a much bolder image.

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

My favourite album cover of all time is Castlemania by Thee Oh Sees (the artwork is by William Keihn), this was the first of their records I bought and it was purely based on the artwork. It has the perfect mix of nostalgia, childishness and ghoulish threat that encapsulates the music inside perfectly. Front and back, its perfect.

Castlemania [front / back] – The Oh Sees
2011, In The Red Recordings
Artwork: William Keihn

I’ve always liked the type and lettering on The Fall’s album covers although my favourite has probably got to be the ‘Slates’ EP.

‘Slates’ [EP] – The Fall
1981, Rough Trade
Artwork: Mark E. Smith

The most recent Stimulator Jones cover has got some cracking eye-popper colour which caught my eye recently.

Low Budget Environments Striving For Perfection – Stimulator Jones
2021, Stones Throw Records
Artwork: Adam Castle

Any music video by Will Hooper, he has a knack for mixing the uncanny and mundane, elevating both to create arresting visuals that marry perfect to the music;

‘Colossus’ [music video] – IDLES
2019, Partisan Records
Dir: Will Hooper

What did you listen to growing up?

Some big ones in order; Take That, Robbie Williams, Britney Spears, Manic Street Preachers, Nelly, System of a Down, Slipknot, My Chemical Romance, The Strokes, Pixies, Pavement, Cat Power, Xiu Xiu, No Age, Spectres, Thee Oh Sees, Kero Kero Bonito, Devo, Vince Staples, Deerhoof, JPEGMafia, Vic Mars, Plone, Lionmilk.

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

I’ve been really enjoying listening to Clay Pipe Music’s back catalogue; they specialise in atmospheric instrumental music that have a strong sense of place. Otherwise, I’ve been listening to the new live album by Lionmilk Quartet a lot recently.

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

The new issue of Seed Magazeen (an environmentally themed kids magazine I run with Lizzie Lomax) is due out soon, so I’m busy working on that and juggling freelance commissions. I’m also finally getting back into writing and recording my own music after a long time, so might release something soon!

Where can we find you

insta: @jack.a.snelling

Cheers Jack!