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New KISS Album
These two signed (signed by me [Michael Doret] and the members of the group), limited edition, large scale fine art prints (not lithos) are now finally available through the official KISS Online Store! These prints made from my original artwork of Sonic Boom and Rock and Roll Over are the best incarnations you will ever see of my art for these two iconic KISS releases.
I have digitally redone my orignal art for Rock and Roll Over (after 30+ years the original original art is long gone), and so now it's cleaner and crisper than ever before. The art for Sonic Boom was digitally created to begin with and so enlarges to the 20" size perfectly. To give an idea of the print quality and clarity of these giclées, here's a detail of Sonic Boom showing the watercolor paper texture:
The print images are 20" square printed on 25" square "Museo Textured Rag" digital Watercolor paper. These are archival prints and will show no visible signs of fading for 100+ years under reasonable lighting situations.
Printed by Art Works Fine Art Publishing in Los Angeles, these editions are limited to 250 prints each, and each print will come with a certificate of authenticity signed by me.
As the creator of these two pieces I am very critical of print quality, but suffice it to say that when I saw the final proofs of these two pieces I was blown away by the color intensity and the quality. Order yours before they're gone!
After doing my first live radio interview for WXRX I did another, slightly longer interview for the KISS fansite "PodKISSt". In this interview I discuss influences on my work, how the two covers for KISS came to be, the limited edition prints of those covers, international problems with the KISS logo, crazy fans, and some advice for budding young artists out there.
In developing and refining my pencil sketch for Sonic Boom I wasn’t completely happy with how the background was working with the diamond shape and the positioning and scale of the lightning border (a small nod to RaRO). I also wanted to play up the idea of something shattering (i.e. from a sonic boom). So I came up with the semi-abstract idea of concentric circles rippling outward like water, only breaking up incrementally into smaller and smaller segments as they expanded, changing the background color from violet to black. It seemed like a fairly simplistic idea, so I tried it and it worked. It also seemed to serve well to both ground and amplify the light beams emanating from the center, which break through the faces. I went through several color iterations, ending with one that had a dark red bleed border. I showed that version to Paul. He looked at it for a minute and then suggested we just change the border to black. We both agreed that this worked better, finishing the design process on this piece.
I did have to redo all the art for the CD/DVD package, which has a slightly more horizontal proportion. That meant shifting and manipulating the proportions of many of the elements. Because the angle of the beams had changed in the new configuration, the most complicated part of this was redoing all the faces. It’s a little difficult to tell what went into the face art, transforming them from normal color photographs, so here’s an enlarged detail:
At first glance, it might look as though I accomplished this using some version of Photoshop’s posterize filter—but I didn’t. The photos needed to be manipulated quite extensively to gain the look I was trying to achieve. I used a similar process when I did the graphics for the Jewish Zodiac pieces.
I’m hoping this art will elicit strong reactions from KISS fans and art enthusiasts alike. My intention was to stir nostalgia for the era of Rock and Roll Over, while inviting the same enthusiasm for new adventure that the Sonic Boom albums and DVD intend to do.
The avid KISS fan will note that the KISS logo on Sonic Boom is not the “official” logo. As I did with RaRO, I redrew the KISS logo after discussing the idea with Paul Stanley. He knew that I had redrawn it for RaRO, and liked the result. In fact, he told me that I’m the only designer who he would ever allow to do that! Below I’ve posted an image with the official KISS logo (at upper left) and just to it’s right, my redrawn version. Below that are (on the left) the logo from Sonic Boom, and the one from RaRO.
Tinkering with the KISS logo, ever so slightly, was an important step towards seamlessly blending the iconic logo with the (hopefully) iconic cover design. I’m very happy with end result, which you see on the cover of Sonic Boom. It truly has been a pleasure to return to my roots, in essence, by rejoining the creative process with KISS. As it was the first time, this experience was one to remember! I can’t wait for the next adventure…
When Paul Stanley came by my studio to discuss how to proceed on the art for the cover of their upcoming CD/DVD package "Sonic Boom", I had no idea what to expect. I hadn't met with him since working on Rock and Roll Over, and had very little memory of what that had been like. Any anxiety I had melted away when we started talking. Paul is a "gentlemen's gentleman" and I immediately felt at ease talking with him—as if all those years had not intervened since the last time we had spoken. After some small talk he explained what he was after with the new cover art. His vision for this album was to make it as vital and raw as it had been when they did RaRO. He felt that that had been some of the best work that they had ever done, and wanted the new album to recreate that energy both musically and visually. While he didn't want me to reprise what I had done with my art for the earlier cover, he did want me to try to capture some of the same spirit, attitude, energy, and look that I had instilled in that piece. Also one of his stipulations was that unlike RaRO (where I had created abstract, graphic versions of the KISS personas) this time he wanted photographic representations of the four group members in full makeup. When I did RaRO I had a 12" canvas to work on. Now with CD covers and digital booklets that canvas had been reduced to less than 40% of its original size. Designing in a 4¾" space poses some very different problems from what I faced while working on covers for vinyl releases. In fact the older cover design would not have worked at that size, it's many elements would have felt crowded into a small space. So the elements of Sonic Boom had to be bigger, bolder—and fewer. I made the decision to make the title the main focus of the graphics, moving the other elements (faces, KISS logo) into prominent—but subordinate—roles.
So I set about putting pencil to paper and trying to solve this the way I solve any other design problem. I did not want to get psyched-out by thinking too much about how the new design would compare with RaRO. That cover had taken on a life of its own and had become a pop culture icon. Creating an iconic cover could not have been one of my goals. All I was capable of doing was to try to create the most compelling graphics possible within the parameters and limitations that had been set out for me. So I started out at the core of this design by creating what I call a "word constellation" out of the title. I tried to make it communicate its meaning visually by not only making it angular and "explosive", but also by creating a shape that was somewhat suggestive of flight—a "flying wing", if you will. Bearing in mind the symmetrical, mandala-like layout of RaRO I started designing the new piece as a field growing out of the center of the square, with the four members faces moving outwards from the center, and capped with my version of the ubiquitous KISS logo.
It took about a week for me to develop my sketch to the point where I felt confident in what I had come up with. As I had done with RaRO, I felt so strongly about this cover design that I decided to not present any other options—I wanted this to be the ONE.
This is the rough pencil I first presented to Paul. I held my breath as he first took it in, and then was able to exhale when I saw a big smile appear on his face.
Next: A few changes and the final art.
I've been waiting a few months to be able to talk about this—and I have talked about it to some degree in a few online interviews, but not really in any detail. Back in April of this year I received a telephone call from out of the blue—from somewhere in South America. At the other end of the line was KISS' Paul Stanley. It'd been more years than I cared to remember since we last spoke. That was when I had done the cover art for "Rock and Roll Over"—KISS' 5th album and their 2nd to go Platinum. So you can understand my surprise when Paul asked if I'd be interested in designing the cover art for KISS' first studio album in 11 years—which Paul himself was producing.
That's when I started remembering how exciting it was the first time around, to have been involved in that fast-paced world of entertainment and music. For me it had been a far cry from doing the corporate logos, magazine and book covers I had been working on at the time. An "edgy" job for me then was doing a spread for High Times (yep, they've been around for a while)! I've always enjoyed the fact that doing what I do has enabled me to straddle many different design worlds, from the fairly straight to the totally off-the-wall. I always tried to say "yes" to just about anyone who was adventurous enough, and had the vision to see how having me design for them could work to their advantage. At any rate I had said "yes"to KISS the first time around (even though I had no idea what I was doing), so of course I again said yes to Paul. We agreed to meet when he returned at the conclusion of their South American tour.
Much to my surprise the "Rock and Roll Over" cover had in recent years become one of the most—if not the most—talked about piece of art in my portfolio. It was a little bewildering to me how over the years that cover had become an icon for this iconic group. I've been contacted by more people about my KISS artwork in the past 6 or 7 years than in all the years prior, and more than any other piece I've ever done including the New York Knicks logo. So the expectations for this new art I was to work on were quite high.
Next: the new cover design revealed.