Hello everybody and welcome back to my ARTS 104 Blog! Today I am going to be talking about Robert Beatty.
Robert Beatty is a musician and artist who is based in Lexington, Kentucky. Beatty does a variety of digital art ranging from album covers to video and music creation. He is best known for his work on album covers as he has made album covers for Oneohtrix Point Never’s Commissions I (2014) and Tame Impala’s Currents (2015). Beatty uses his skills in drawing, digital airbrush paintings, and graphic design to create his eye-catching album covers. Beatty has been active in the music and art scene since the mid-’00s American underground music scene. He participated in this era as an artist making concert fliers and record covers and as a musician who released experimental albums with his bands, the Hair Police and Three Legged Race.
Beatty draws on a variety of media to influence his album cover work. Specifically, Beatty draws on animation and comic books that he saw as a kid. In addition to comics, Beatty’s work has clearly been inspired by old sci-fi paperbacks, Surrealism, and the airbrush illustration of the 1970s-1980s. At first glance, Beatty’s work reminds the casual observer of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” as his work also features prismatic play and line work. Beatty himself has addressed this parallel by saying, “I’m doing all these record covers and I’m just remaking ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ on accident” (Leitko). Beatty is currently working more on the comic side of his work as he is currently creating a cover for the Breakdown Press.
When I first viewed Beatty’s work, I was instantly struck with fascination and curiosity. The best way I could describe Beatty’s work is overwhelmingly beautiful. Each album contains an abundance of details that takes an observer some time to decipher. I have to admit I have been a fan of Beatty’s work for a while and never knew it. As someone who lived in Australia for the Tame Impala craze and listens to “indie rock,” I have, of course, listened to Tame Impala’s Currents more times than I can tell. I have always loved the Currents album cover as it reminds me of a Newton’s Cradle on acid. A strange thing to like, but I have always loved it.
Another work of Beatty’s that I like is his album cover for Oneohtrix Point Never’s Commissions I. This cover contrasts very strongly with Beatty’s other covers as this one is very minimalistic. I like this cover’s simplicity as the lack of details allows the viewer to insert their own message. For example, when I look at that cover I see a bar breaking the mold and moving away from the crowd. I have no idea what the album is actually about, but I am now interested in listening to it because I have my own idea of what it may be about.
The last piece of Beatty’s work I particularly like is his album cover for Chris Forsyth & Solar Motel Band’s The Rarity of Experience Pts. I & II (2016). This bifurcated cover drew me in with the eye that practically stares into your soul. Additionally, the red spheres emanating from the eye also reminded me of tears. These tears triggered my empathy and curiosity in me. Moreover, the flower with the petal floating into the dark album piqued my curiosity as Beatty used these lines to clearly define the space so that he could, in turn, break it. This idea of almost breaking the fourth wall makes the album cover exciting by using a simple design method. In fact, for me, looking at that floating petal reminds me of astral projecting and a sense of the ethereal.
All in all, I enjoyed Beatty’s album cover work and his ability to embrace not only a retro-chaos aesthetic, but a simple minimalistic design as well.
Baehr, Mike. “Art Gallery: Robert Beatty‘s Psychedelic, Retro-Futuristic Aesthetic.” Bandcamp Daily, 30 Jan. 2017, https://daily.bandcamp.com/2017/01/30/robert-beatty-three-legged-race-interview/.
Beatty, Robert. About – Robert Beatty. https://robertbeattyart.com/About. Accessed 20 Jan. 2019.
Leitko, Aaron. “Robert Beatty Has Become a One-Man Industry of Psychedelic Album Art.” Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/all-of-the-best-new-psychedelic-album-covers-are-made-by-the-same-guy/2017/01/19/fa489522-d76d-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html.