With a 3rd single dropping from the new Tame Impala album, I had to reach out to the graphic designer behind the beautiful madness, so tap in and get inside Robert Beatty’s head the man behind the cover art for TI and many others.
Name: Robert Beatty
Current city: Lexington, Kentucky
Pets: Mr. Smith (toy poodle), Blue Velvet (chihuahua)
Studio setup: In home, basically in my kitchen
ISO50: Share a childhood memory that might relate to your design?
I drew constantly as a kid, but I was generally just very curious and wanted to find out how everything worked from the inside out, which is definitely the way I treat design and music. I remember discovering video feedback with the family camcorder when I was in maybe 4th grade or something. Circuit bending not long after that. I was always taking things apart and getting in trouble.
ISO50: If you couldn’t create music or design in your life, what would you be doing?
I can’t really imagine doing anything else and being happy. I did a few years of renovation/construction work in the past and enjoyed that quite a bit even though it’s exhausting. I definitely can’t see doing something that doesn’t involve making something in some way.
ISO50: How did you doing Tame Impala album art come about? is this how most of your graphic work comes to you?
Kevin was familiar with my work and got in touch. Usually if I don’t know someone or have mutual friends people just reach out to me after seeing my work elsewhere, I’m pretty accessible.
ISO50: Tell us about Tame Impala album art and the influences?
Kevin’s ideas for the album artwork were all based on turbulent flow, the way liquid or air flows around objects. He sent over a bunch of images of diagrams that I took inspiration from. Everything was very open and they let me interpret things in my own way. It worked well with the kind of stuff I’ve been interested in doing lately. I’ve been trying to incorporate more op-art and moire techniques into the record covers, and this was the perfect opportunity.
ISO50: Can you list off a 4 song playlist of what you listen to while you do your graphic work?
I listen to music constantly while working and it is always all over the place, but here’s some stuff I’ve been playing a lot lately.
Nuno Cannavaro – Alsee
Brother Ah – Enthuiasm
Bo Anders Persson – Love Is Here To Stay
Dendo Marionette – Walts (For Lautréament)
ISO50: Something your fans might not know about you?
I grew up on a cattle/tobacco farm. I also showed rabbits in the county fair as a kid.
ISO50: Do you collect anything?
My collection of art and design books is starting to get out of hand. I’m kind of a pack rat, so I have small collections of a lot of weird stuff- keys, prisms/interesting glass objects (which come in handy for shooting photographs and video through), objects with brick patterns, plants. Obviously I’ve got some records and tapes too.
ISO50: What is the first album cover that pops up in your head and why?
Pretty much anytime anyone asks me this question all I can think of Isadore Seltzer’s (of Pushpin Studios fame) cover to Bruce Haack’s “Electric Lucifer” LP. It’s got the perfect balance of 70’s illustration, geometry, crudeness, and precision that I love. Doesn’t hurt that it’s one of my favorite records too.
ISO50: What do you have lined up for the rest of the year?
I’ve been working for a while now on an art book of all new material that will be out later this year. I’m planning some new work for a few exhibitions that are in the works. On the music side of things I’ve got a few Three Legged Race EP’s I’m finishing up that will be out this year as well. I’m also starting a new tape label to put out some of my music and some music by my friends early this summer. I’m working on some new soundtracks for a few short videos by Takeshi Murata right now. Lots of record covers and posters too as always.