FilmInstitute6th September 2019As part of our Abbey Road 50th anniversary celebrations, we've been busy putting a new artistic spin on the famous wall outside the studios. Over the coming weeks, we will be showcasing designs from some incredible artists interpreting the album's songs and themes.
Our first designer, graffiti artist Luke Embden, used bold type and warm colours for his depiction of Here Comes The Sun, which you can read more about here. In the now second instalment of our Abbey Road Wall makeover, we’ve instructed the help of graphic designer Mikey Burey to visually depict the subject matter for the opening track of the album, Come Together.
We caught up with Mikey to find out a bit more about him as an artist and where he draws his particular style from:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your style of work?For the past few years I’ve worked freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer. I’m based in Camberwell, working mostly with musicians on album artwork and other commissions. Before living here I spent most of my time working for a small e-cig company; after college I went straight into work there instead of going to university which I think actually gave me the space to develop my own artwork, away from an institution. I didn’t have the budget or skill to photograph the products so I taught myself to draw them digitally, it was through this that I discovered digital airbrushing - basically a process of masking and shading which has been used by airbrush artists for decades. It’s a term which I’m super familiar with now but at the time I didn’t really know what I was tapping into! So I spent a whole summer at home doing nothing but drink tea and work on my illustration.
There are a lot of obvious parallels between the surrealists, like Tanguy and Magritte, whose paintings I’ve always been fascinated with and tried to decipher through my own work, and modern heroes like Storm Thorgerson, Aldridge and Robert Beatty.. I think I’ve found my place within these visual worlds pretty naturally. Airbrushing has already established itself as a relatively strong aesthetic in the music world in the past, and I’ve loved working with it and perfecting it as a craft during its revival.
Why did you choose to reinterpret The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ for your mural?I chose ‘Come Together’ because of its history! I didn’t know until recently that the song is a portrait of Timothy Leary, one of the pioneers of the psychedelic movement during the 60’s/70’s. Leary asked Lennon to write a campaign song for his run for governor of California, with the slogan ‘Come Together, Join The Party’. It was never used for its original purpose, but now Leary’s weird portrait lives on forever through the album. Initially I was drawn to songs I’ve had more of a connection with in the past, like ‘Sun King’ or ‘Because’, but I thought this one gave me so much to work from visually. It was fun bringing it to life and I’ve now got a lovely relationship with it, which I never had before. Now I can’t stop listening to it.
Can you take us through the piece?The piece is a mirrored portrait of Leary. On the left it’s the young 1960 Harvard psychologist, and on the right it’s closer to Lennon’s portrayal in the song. I wanted to give it a similar feel to that of a real campaign banner, an optimistic hippie’s sprawling vision of utopia with Aldridge-inspired flowers and closed eyes seeing more than those kept open, all through a slightly psychedelic lens. The butterfly is based on recurring dreams I have about raspberry butterflies.
Where can we find more of your work?