Marika Hackman’s forthcoming album I’m Not Your Man features a striking cover created by artist Tristan Pigott.
Hackman asked Pigott to paint a group portrait of everyone who was closely involved in making the album. “That was really important to me … everyone came together to make this,” she says. The singer-songwriter is pictured standing in a messy kitchen alongside Juliette Jackson, Soph Nathan, Celia Archer and Fern Ford from the Big Moon band. Producer Charlie Andrews’ face appears on passport photos on a wooden dining table.
Pigott’s painting is filled with references to tracks from the record as well as recurring themes in his own work. Cucumbers often appear in his art and he is fascinated with images of dying and decaying plants. Sliced apples and cigarette butts refer to song titles and a portrait of Hackman’s friend Gina appears in the pages of a magazine – a reference to the track Gina’s World.
The layout of the portrait reflects the recording process: Archer and Fern played bass and drums in one room while Hackman and Nathan played guitar in another. “We had two rooms and a window in between so we could see each other,” explains Hackman.
There are also references to the cover of Hackman’s previous album We Slept At Last. A painting on the wall inspired by Tracey Emin’s famous artwork My Bed features the same mattress and colour scheme used on the album’s cover.
Alongside this, there are phallic symbols, smiley faces and images alluding to key themes on the album. Dirty dishes represent a rejection of domestic ideals and a detailed postcard on the floor juxtaposed with a simplistic view from a window represent how “we’d rather be looking at the world through a glamourised perspective [ie on social media] than acknowledging reality” – a theme prevalent in the track blahblahblah, says Hackman.
It’s a striking image and a highly detailed one. While most solo artists opt for an image of themselves on their album covers, Hackman’s artwork reflects the idea of an album as a collaborative process. Pigott’s surreal scene offers a window into both Hackman’s world and his and hidden references reward repeat viewing.
“There’s a lot of stuff in there which I think is really fun. It was fun to think of and when I’m looking at record sleeves, that’s what I want to look for and discover. It’s a much more exciting prospect than taking a picture of my face and putting it on the cover,” says Hackman.
Hackman met Pigott at a party and says she “fell in love” with his work. “It’s so incredibly detailed but not everything is quite right,” she says. “Sometimes eyes are slightly off or colours are quite flat … and it creates this really weird illustrative world that also has a sense of the hyperreal. I love that sense of playing with perspective.”
Pigott worked from lyrics and Hackman’s initial concept but also added several ideas of his own, creating the painting while the album was being recorded. “The reason I chose Tristan is because I love his work, so I have to be very respectful of that. I don’t want to stand there and say, ‘do it this way’,” says Hackman. Hackman discussed the initial concept with Pigott and had a look at early sketches but didn’t see the final painting until it was complete.
“He worked out what would be best visually, whereas I was just thinking about everything we’d need to get on [the cover]. We got the layout together and spoke about colour concepts and things like that, but he very much led that side of it and always very much got it right in my mind.”