James Patrick

A Page from the Book of Rock and Roll Design

One of my favorite graphic designers is a fairly well known musician from an “almost famous” band. As weird as this may sound, I’ve never seen his graphic design work, but if I base my judgement on his music composition and his guitar playing skills, I’d guess he’s a pretty good designer. I’ve heard him talk about his influences, and like many of us he came from humble, simplistic beginnings. As a youth, he pretty much stumbled on what would become his preferred instrument of artistic expression, and it wasn’t necessarily a paintbrush.

“Ultimately, I wanted Zeppelin to be a marriage of blues, hard rock and acoustic music, topped with heavy choruses-a combination that had never been done before. Lots of light and shade in the music.” – Jimmy Page, (1993)

You had me at “lots of light and shade”. You’ve heard of him? James Patrick Page? Guitar genius and iconic giant of rock and roll…lead guitar player and song writer of the band LED ZEPPELIN schooled in graphic design? Yes. THAT Jimmy Page.

I was a sophomore in high school when I learned of the power of LZ, thanks to the awesome record collection of my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Chris. When I stayed the weekends with them, they let me listen to all of their LP’s—and they had a kick arse stereo system with headphones the size of truck tires. I wore out the tracks on LZ IV, and with all that light and shade, I thought there must have been at least 3 lead guitars. I was shocked to learn there was only one lead. And those drums…and that voice…and the base!

I first learned of Mr. Page’s art and design background watching Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, “It Might Get Loud” at the Tivoli on Delmar in September 2009. Page is in good company in the film along side of David Evans, AKA, “The Edge” of U2, and Jack White of all kinds of fame—including the White Stripes and the Raconteurs. In the film, Jimmy talks of his youth and it’s clear that he brought his training in art and design into his music and guitar work.

The album sleeve of Led Zeppelin III is my favorite. It was designed for Led Zeppelin by Zacron, who was a student at Kingston College of Art at the time Page was attending in 1963. The design of this sleeve summarizes everything I feel about design and rock and roll…there are no hard and fast rules. Design is usually a well-planned eclectic mix of random elements.

Like most artists, my designs and creative efforts are influenced by everything. Sight, sound, touch, smell, and feel–the world is my studio. Music is the primer on the canvas when I code, design, cook, write, paint, or mow the lawn. With music like Black Dog in the background, I can think without thinking and the project or work seems to take care of itself. Artists priming the canvas for other artists. Hmm…almost like a volvelle.

If you haven’t had your dose of Led Zeppelin today–there’s always tomorrow. You can count on Favazz at K-She 95 to turn it out at 5:00 pm CT each day. Otherwise, go get your earbuds or truck tires and plug in to some light and shade.


theme by teslathemes