“Still Life/Nature Morte NYC”
Art Director Mike van Joel, Client New Styles
Mixed Media Collage 11.25″ x 7.75″
Published in Black and White
I first discovered the work of Russell Mills only a few months ago, when in a second-hand book shop I purchased a marvelous volume of 1970′s graphic arts entitled “ The Association of Illustrators – 3rd Annual – 1979“ < published by Mayflower Books (First American Edition) ISBN 0 8 317 4861 3>.
The volume showcases the best of British Illustration from that year and the images in the book were chosen by a panel of 35 Judges from 1,370 entries. The images in this book are a superb record of British Illustration from that period - and the work of Russell Mills grabbed me straight away. Partly because of his technique, and partly because of his use of social commentary and intellectual narrative. I love the way Russell uses collage to create layers of textures, colours, lines and shapes to create what are in effect, works of Art used for illustrative purposes, as opposed to “straightforward” illustration to meet a brief (not that there is anything wrong with that of course!)
These works were all done early on in Russell’s career after graduating from the Royal College of Art (where incidentally he now lectures as well). The first 5 images in this post are all from the volume described above.
“The Aquarian Age”
Art director: Michael Hodgson
Client: Harpers & Queen Magazine
Mixed Media Collage
“The Age of Uncertainty”
Art Editor: Brian Thomas
Client: Radio Times
This is the first of a set of 13 illustrations to accompany a weekly series in which professor Galbraith gave a personal view of all aspects of economics since Adam Smith. The work was executed for mono reproduction with spot-colour overlay.
“Melvyn is so modest”
Art Editor: Clive Crook
Client: Sunday Times Magazine
The illustration accompanies a lampoon of Melvyn Bragg. Russell doubled the satire by basing the work on a painting by David Hockney called “A grand procession of dignitaries, in the semi-Egyptian style” which in turn is a parody of style.
Mixed media collage
Brief was to provide an image of society in 2002
Russell decided to confine the emphasis to selected references of a modern
metropolis rather than a Utopia.
I went Internet searching to see if Russell was still working today and I was totally blown away by the work he has done since 1979. Russell has gone on to become a very significant British Visual Artist, Multi Media Artist, Cover Designer, Set Designer, Sound Artist and more – collaborating along the way with Icons such as Brian Eno, The Nine Inch Nails, Michael Nyman, Gilbert & Lewis – and the list goes on.
On Russell’s website is a fascinating interview which identifies for me what I find so interesting about his work – there is something about it which crosses all the boundaries between Art, Music, Design and Illustration. There are very few artists capable of representing Music through a visual medium, and in such a skilled and intellectual way.
I felt that he (Brian Eno) was thinking about the potential of sound in the same way that I was trying think about images. There was a kind of intellectual empathy, which made me think, even then, that I’d really like to meet that guy, to talk, to throw ideas around. ……
In my final year at the RCA I was obliged to propose a major project, a sustained body of research and work, on which my MA degree would be assessed. Given that I was investigating these collisions of opposites, the marriages of disparates, I needed a subject that would offer me huge variety, massive leeway for very oblique thinking. I needed something to base my experiments on that genuinely allowed experiment with both materials and concepts. Eno’s wonderfully rich and elliptical lyrics provided all I needed. I wasn’t interested in “illustrating” them in the usual literal way, which I’ve always regarded as redundant and insulting to a viewer’s intelligence and imaginative capacities. I was more interested in the possibilities of apparently disparate juxtapositions and the new worlds that might emerge. Eno’s inventive lyrics were the perfect springboard for tangential explorations of ideas. This whole project (took me 3 years to complete and a further 3 to get a publisher) eventually saw the light of day in a publication called “More Dark Than Shark” published by Faber & Faber in 1983/84 I think……
There are so many wonderful images of his work on Russell’s website
it is really hard to choose just a few, so I would really encourage you to have a look and choose what attracts you to delve deeper, but here are SOME my favourite images of Russell Mills outstanding work.
Collage “What are you like?” for group exhibition at Museum of Illustration,
Dulwich Gallery London, 2008
CD folder, 2008; containing cover etc., for the CD – Punkt with Jon Hassell and Sidsel Endresen. Artwork by Mills; design by Alf Solbakken and Nina Bang.
(Reaching for the sublime in music design) has created a showcase of some of Mills’ best cover art pieces. Visit the page here
First Last Moment, Collage 2010
“Nothing but Whispers” Collage 2010
“Disjecta Membra” – Collage 2010
Artwork and Design for a series of Michael Nyman CD’s
MN Records 2008
Art Work and Design for the CD – Nils Peter Molvaer “Re-Vision”, Universal Music 2008
All Images Copyright Russell Mills