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Who is Kate Gibb?

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Kate Gibb has been a long time collaborator of the chemical brothers with respect to album artwork and record cover design. Based in Paddington, London, she has been working as a printmaker and illustrator for over 15 years. She is best known for her use of the silk screen printing technique. Calling herself “a silk screen obsessive” (1), she considers the method “seductive” because of its tactile nature among other things (2, min. 2:33). As obsessed as with silk screening, which she taught herself, Gibb is also addicted to colors in all their forms: “I’m attracted to things because of their color. It’s the first thing I notice. It’s my intuitive response to things.. is color” (2), she states. Her work is essentially influenced by “chance, hiccups and happy accidents” (1), as Gibb describes her creative and inspirational process.

It is this kind of obsession and creativity that has therefore greatly affected the style of a multitude of beautiful artwork designs for the Chemical Brothers.
Surrender, the band’s iconic third studio album, marks her first ever collaboration with the band and comes up with illustrations deeply influenced by a flower-power kind of style fitting the album’s psychedelic mood. Especially the singles’ artwork of that era portrays people in various forms with a subtle, retro-like theme of coloring (3) . The most significant illustration, however, is Surrender’s front cover. It shows a man lifting his arms up in the air who stands in front of a sitting crowd of people in London’s old Olympic Stadium.
A special limited lithography poster of this front cover was made for the Chemical Brothers’ tour ending gig at the Olympic Stadium that took place on August 30, 2008. In contrast to its original, the color theme was changed from a light blue and orange tone to a darker blue and pale lemon-like yellow pattern. It also bears the day of performance in the upper right-hand corner.

Special limited lithoprapghy poster

As a follow up, Gibb created the silk screen artwork for 2002's Come With Us with its front cover depicting two persons going through or coming from (?) some kind of orange/red colored "swirl" of sparks. Singles like It Began In Africa and Star Guitar, one of my personal favorites with its two-faced female silhouette, show a slightly more vivid theme of color than its predecessor Surrender yet with an equally trippy feel to it.

Gibb also executed the silk screen prints for the Singles 93-03 compilation album. Among other things, they display people the Brothers have worked with over the course of that period such as Noel Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft, Tim Burgess or Q-Tip, as well as some excerpts of The Golden Path and Out of Control lyrics and also a French cartoon of the Brothers. 

In 2007, Kate Gibb contributed her artistic skills to the Brothers’ sixth studio album, We Are the Night. The style is described as influenced by “the work Things to Come by Bauhaus member Herbert Bayer.“ (4). On the front cover, you can see open hands in front of a mountainous background with a blueish and greyish color theme overlaid by zodiac sign like stars. The hands are aligned side by side with their palms directed at the viewer which themselves hold big eyes, also looking at the beholder.

Perhaps due to the strong similarities of Herbert Bayer’s work, the artwork received a modification for a reissue of the album in late 2008 (5) and the eye holding hands were removed in the process. Its  color theme also changed from a brighter blueish to a darker theme, similar to page 9 inside the originals’ booklet.

Things to Come by Herbert Bayer

2008's reissue of WATN

For the single Do It Again, Gibb created an abstract illustration depicting a mouth and lots of either opened or closed eyes (depending on single versions). According to Gibb, the eye and planetary theme was based on ideas by the Chemical Brother themselves: “They knew they wanted these whole sort of eye, quite mystical, planetary things. They love things like that.” (6, min 1:33). This may come as no surprise as they used eyes in their live set visuals before, e.g. for The Private Psychedelic Reel and Surface to Air.

Live visual for The Private Psychedelic Reel

Live visual for Surface to Air

The single The Salmon Dance, deemed as the Brothers last physical single release to this date, shows six different pairs of legs that converge in the center of a circle which appears to be Earth’s moon. The background is painted in a cyan/ aqua type of hue with some salmons swimming around.

In 2008, the Brothers released their second single compilation, Brotherhood, for which Gibb also provided the artwork. The cover displays silk screen illustrations of the various different cover designs of their singles (not restricted to only Kate Gibbs work) in a mosaic type of fashion. In its special edition version, the box also contained a post card of a silk screen print that shows a trippy image of the Brothers applauding their audience.

(2) Stolen Moments: Kate Gibb

(6) Kate Gibb/ Stussy

Other sources

Interview with illustrator Kate Gibb (Ellesse, Italia)

Wonderful post! I love Kate Gibb's use of layering images to add depth and lush texture to her pieces.

I'm pretty sure Kate is a huge influence for another favourite artist of mine, Victoria Topping.

Nice one Csar! Starting to enjoy the topics in here so far. Nicely put on all things related to Kate. I gotta put that lithograph up again.


--- Quote from: Csar on Jul 08, 2015, 11:53 ---Perhaps due to the strong similarities of Herbert Bayer’s work, the artwork received a modification for a reissue of the album in late 2008

--- End quote ---


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