Coldplay Album Artwork

1883 caught up with the artist behind the mind-blowing album cover of 2011 Coldplay’s smash hit, Mylo Xyloto.

What is it that makes analbum a greatalbum? The music, of course, but let’s be frank, even the cover needs to electrifythe audience’s attention. Think of Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’sor Stones’ Sticky Fingers – just to name the first two that come to my mind. Would they ever sound the same without Peter Blake’s “parade of stars” or Andy Warhol’s close-up of a jeans-clad male crotch on their cover? I bet they wouldn’t; and what about Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto? Whether you are a fan of Chris Martin & co. or not, you will agree that Coldplay’s fifth album hardly goes unnoticed; and, once again, a good deal of the credit goes to the cover artwork based on a graffiti painting by the band’s artist in residence, Paris. 

Born in 1974 and raised in Hull, England, Paris has been the artist in residence for Coldplay since 2011; always up for breaking new ground, he has developed a unique and highly distinctive style of painting – a colourful mishmash combining spray-paint, Futurism and mark-making, suspended between past and future. Introduced to Coldplay by art director and set designer Misty Buckley, Paris painted the mural that later appeared on the album’s cover along with the band and under the supervision of graphic designer and Coldplay long-time collaborator Tappin Gofton. Inspired to the history of wall painting and public graffiti – researches started about six months before the work had begun – the nine-part artwork was meant to be a blaze of colours and the album cover proved to be a total shift from Viva la Vida’s showing Eugène Delacroix’s The Liberty Leading the People. As the icing on the cake, Paris was offered the opportunity to decoratemany of the bands instruments and stage sets for their 2011 festival tour and collaborate with Mat Whitecross and Pulse films to produce animated graffiti sequences for the Every teardrop is a waterfallvideo.

In December 2012, the sales of original Mylo Xyloto album artwork by Coldplay band members and Paris reached a record high of £635,000 during an exhibition organised at Proud Camden galleries by Fraser Kee Scott of Album Artists; all proceeds were destined for Kids Company, a children’s charity providing support to over 17,000 vulnerable inner-city children across London.

How did you first get involved with Coldplay?

Through a friend of a friend.

Mylo Xyloto’s cover is your first big official project for the band. All the artworks for the album’s campaign are based on the same graffiti wall, including instruments and backdrops; how did you approach such an undertaking?

This was indeed my first project, and quite a big one to start with! I’d be lying if I said it was not a challenge, but I must say I like to test myself. 

How did I approach it? Well, you know, I just got on with it and rose to the challenge… I love to work on a big scale!

Did the band members give you any hints and tips while working on the graffiti wall?

Yeah they took part too, we all painted it together. I would develop the tricky areas like the flower bursting through the concrete and the cosmic stuff, then layer it up and add texture.

You also worked on the video for the lead single from the album, Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall; how was the experience?

Good team, Great fun, we got to try out our own graffiti animations…, I’d love to do more work in film. Coldplay have a strong tradition for music videos & album covers so its fantastic to be up there with them.

Let’s step back; when did you first realised you wanted to do art for a living?

I think I wanted to be an artist from a very young age,.. But growing up theres no one around to explain how to make a living from it…school was useless…so you have to figure it out for yourself.

Who were your main influences at that time? 

Quite a few: The Designers Republic, Hundertwasser, Philip Guston and, last but not least, David Hockney.

Did you have any formal training?

I have a load of GCSE’s, a national diploma, a HND and a First Class Honours degree.

Haveyou always been interested in graffiti art?

I’ve loved the writing on the walls, and any kind of original mark making on the street for a very long time.

Back to Coldplay; were you a fan even before becoming their Artist in Residence?

Yes, I am big fan of Yellow & The Scientist.

How does it feel to be the Artist in Residence for Coldplay?

It was indeed a great honour!

Did you go on tour with them?

Yes all around Europe, New Zealand and a few special gigs in America.

Coldplay aside, what are your favourite bands/solo artists at the moment?

The list is always growing; I’d say Zombie, Maze, The Fall and the Stone Roses, just to name a few.

Have you collaborated with any other musician in the past?

Not to the same degree as Coldplay, but I’ve produced work for Jamie Liddell on Warp, Robbie Williams, Nathan Daniel & Aspects.

Just out of curiosity, why Paris? How did you choose it?

The flow of the letters, the timeless elegance of the French Capitol, the Greek Legend….

What other interest do you have outside art, what keeps you ticking over when you are not working?

Building fires, taking saunas, climbing mountains, travelling…

What does the future hold in store for you? 

This year I’d like to build up a sustainable long-term partnership with an agent / dealer/ philanthropist / sponsor with great knowledge of the international art & financial markets…. I also hope to begin work on a new range of solo & group exhibitions in France, Scandanavia, Italy, Japan, Russia, China and the Americas (North & South).

As a last question, is there anything you want to add?

Yes, visit my website!

Words by Jacopo Nuvolari

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