A good track might get our toes tapping but it's not usual for it to inspire us to reach for the paint brush. For 30 illustrators around the world, however, creating images inspired by music is a perfectly natural process - and one which they've embraced with flair for the Yellow Bird Project, a Montreal-based nonprofit raises money for charity by collaborating with their favourite indie rock bands.
Their latest project is The Indie Rock Poster Book, a showcase of cutting-edge artists and the indie rock acts they have been influenced by - from Bon Iver and Bloc Party to The National. The result is a surreal and visionary celebration of music and art. We've selected some of the best illustrations below, with an outline of the indie rock band, the track, the artist - and how the song in question inspired their work.
The Band: Bon Iver
The Song: Skinny Love
The Artist: Jeremyville
He says: "Bon Iver founder Justin Vernon spent a winter in his father's cabin in Wisconsin, in the State's northwoods, recovering from an illness. Here he wrote and recorded most of this first album in a very lo fi way, and it was this ethic of independence, and his singular, evocative vision that first attracted me to his music. It is a way of working that resonates with me, as it's close to the way I like to work, alone with my sketchbook late at night, listening to music. If I could find a winter cabin to escape to, I think I would."
I wanted to draw a moment from those Wisconsin woods, and to try and evoke the feeling of that desolate winter alone in the cabin, trying to somehow find a way through.
The Band: The National
The Song: So Far Around the Bend
The Artist: Frank Chimero
He say: "She runs. It's been happening her whole life: she probably ran away to New York in the first place, only to run away later from the man that loved her. She skirts responsibility, embraces slackerdom, wishes for 10-years-ago, then takes a bath and laughs it off, even if she really wants to cry. "Nobody knows where you are." Maybe she doesn't even know herself..."
The Band: TV on the Radio
The Song: Dancing Choose
The Artist: Julia Rothman
She says: "For my poster I just started drawing while listening to the song on repeat. I wound up with a big patterned ball full of craziness. The music is very rhythmic and fast paced. At first the ball was going to be the head of a figure- the man described in the song. But instead, I decided to make it a treetop so it felt like a huge buzzing mass stuck on something very static."
The Band: The Tallest Man on Earth
The Song: A Field of Birds
The Artist: Tad Carpenter
He says: "My inspiration for creating a poster for this song or any poster for that matter is simple. Try and achieve the same overall message and feel the musicians achieved through lyrics and notes with elements I use each day. Using elements like color, shape, form and typography are my ways of interrupting the band or song. A field of birds is a very inspiring, empowering and uplifting song. I wanted to maintain that overall feel to the poster. The song also has a bit of whimsy and needed to be fun and inviting overall.
Like any project I started with pencil sketches. Concepts playing off of the band name The Tallest Man Alive is where I started. Showing this larger than life figure draped in birds on a hill side.
The song talks about “a little bird found a thread hanging from my sleeve” and speaks several times of a "little girl" throughout the song. As you can see one of the birds has a thread in her mouth and the the little girl plays a prominent roll in the composition of the poster as she does in the song. Of course the birds as mentioned in the song are shown as a field of birds which seemed like an injustice if that was not addressed.
After the concept was chosen and pencil sketch was refined and tightened up I moved onto the computer to draft the final illustration. Color studies are done on the computer as well as off screen. Several elements on the poster are also drawn by hand and brought in system for final layout.
When finished and completed I feel the poster has the same whimsical, inspiring tone the song does. Now, if only we could all find our own field of birds :)"
The Band: Iron & Wine
The Song: The Trapeze Swinger
The Artist: Toby Triumph
He says: "I wanted this poster to represent different phases in a person's life, looking at how the people and places that surround us can change like chapters in a book, becoming a distant memory while a person can stay the same. I wanted the image to capture some of the still contemplation and reflection that speaks to me in this beautiful song."
The Band: Bloc Party
The Song: Helicopter
The Artist: Genevieve Gauckler
She says: "Difficult to explain the process of creating this artwork. Because intuition/feeling is usually my main "tool" to come up with ideas and also because it's about music. Really hard to put words on music, I'm not used to that! First thing I do is to listen to the track and since I don't understand English very well, I read the lyrics. What I like with Bloc Party is that it's quite sophisticated texts. Music is really efficient, straightforward, raw and I like its energy, simplicity. While listening to the track and reading the lyrics, I though the main color would be grey, with some bits of bright colors. Also I'm more confortable at working on a character (I can't help myself), and I wanted to use photographs instead of graphics to make a more "grownup" artwork. The rest is just feeling, I haven't conceptualised the process too much, I leave a lot of room for feeling and chance!"
The Band: Devendra Banhart
The Song: A Sight To Behold
The Artist: Jon Burgerman
He says: "I left my pens and a sketchbook locked in a drawer with a tiny dictaphone playing the songover and over on a loop. I left and had a fine meal of golden corn and non-dairy butter whilst lookingout of my apartment window to the park over the road. A gentle breeze made the bare branches of the trees clatter and sway. A woman was walking a small dog, it kept straying from the path, catching a scent and wanting to follow it. I finished my corn and diligently washed up my bowl and placed it in the drying rack.
When I returned to the drawer I'd found then pens had drawn absolutely nothing at all."
Got a favourite poster, or a track that inspires you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.