Visuals: album artwork
Album cover art is a genre on its own. There are books and exhibitions dedicated to it, some covers are iconic. Yet from other artists I never expect as much as I expect from Mika. Cover art is such an essential part of his artistic brand and I’ve always admired the work and thought put in it.
The visual look for the albums is created by Mika and his illustrator sister Yasmine. The way Mika includes his family in everything he does is one of the things that make him so special. My own family is my whole world and that’s something that unites many of us. Despite of how different we all are, despite of how different our families are, we value those people around us higher than anything else. Always warms my heart to see Mika surrounded by his family members, like it could make the hard music business somehow softer for him.
I love getting updates from studio and seeing musicians and sound engineers at their work but the album making process wouldn’t be complete without little glimpses of covers and other visual elements. Just having a quick look at the illustrations from each era tells a lot.
The Life In Cartoon Motion look is cartoonlike and the colors are somehow childish. Just on the surface of course. Surely everyone can understand Lollipop is not about candy?
The Boy Who Knew Too Much took the style to the next level. The stories were not so clear and obvious anymore. Billy Brown and Big Girl had to make room for Dr John and One-Foot Boy, everything became more dreamy and surreal, on stage we could watch nightmares and witness Toy Boy becoming alive. The development can be seen also in the illustrations. The colors are darker, there are masks and other symbols, the environment is expanding to the space.
Then look at the The Origin Of Love photo. There’s a drastic change. Mika has grown up. I always see TOOL as a break-through, something that started a new, more open era. There was new honesty in Mika’s music and the way he talked about himself.The album artwork may look less colorful than the previous ones but there’s a lot of significance underneath. I love it that even the green CD disc is matching with the white and green polkadot theme we saw on stage.
No Place In Heaven brought the colors back again. Being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t use colors as much as you like. I thought it would be easy to tell NPIH looks visually my favorite but after seeing all the covers and discs this way it’s not so easy anymore. LICM looks fresher than it did 2007 and I find that remarkable and see something similar in TBWKTM. Their youth and innocence is hard to repeat.
No Place In Heaven is still my favorite in many ways. I like the color tones in the illustrations. I like the city view and how it gives an impression Mika world is literally a place where we can step into and I like mixing real life pictures with cartoon style illustrations (NPIH is that way following TOOL’s example). Look at the powerful, very intense and charismatic photos. Even though Mika has grown up he still looks stubborn as ever.
I’m curious how the 5th album will be, I’m curious how it will look. Even still in the middle of recording it we’ve already seen Mika on media in France, Italy and the US. The funny clip on SNL featured Lollipop. The bigger audience in North America probably still remembers him for LICM. A lot has has happened after Lollipop though, you can see it just looking at the album covers. X