James Blake and Quentin Blake were born 56 years apart, but they formed an unlikely partnership ahead of James’ recent album release (‘The Colour In Anything’). Eighty-three-year-old Quentin ended up drawing the cover for James’ album, helping create the videos, and the tour posters. It’s all thanks to Alexis Burgess, the founder of Burgess Studios, who decided to set up a meeting. Burgess Studios have collaborated with both artists before, and they thought a bit of artistic cross-pollination would go a long way.
The basis for this meeting was one of Quentin Blake’s illustrated books, Patrick, from the late 60s. “It’s both innocent and subversive,” writes Burgess. “The trees are growing jellies and buttered toast. Patrick reminds me of James.” That may be because Patrick has a magical violin he can use to change things around him. Burgess asked Quentin if he could reshape Patrick to fit James. Here’s a brief look at Patrick:
Quentin agreed, the two Blakes met and decided to work together. Instead of the cute trees filled with toast and jellies, it was naked women and crows, with the Patrick figure, now James, cast as a silhouette.
“I am not sure whether it is James having an effect on the landscape or the landscape having an effect on him,” Quentin said, “but it was wonderful for me to draw those dark cloudy vistas and the strange trees inhabited by crows and young women… At the time I produced the pictures James had not completed his work on the music and – it may just be fanciful – but it would be nice to think that they had perhaps contributed in a small way to what we eventually hear.” Here are the two images – the outside and inside of the album cover:
The artwork fits the album so snugly, it’s definitely possible Quentin’s work rubbed off on James a little. James even decided to use Quentin’s artwork on the videos accompanying the album, like the one below:
And that is the power of a shared surname.