I've been wanting to do an album cover ever since I was an angsty teenage hipster, and this spring I finally had the opportunity.
"Wars of Abstraction" is a progressive acoustic album, with themes of ego, self-betrayal, and being true to your creative self. The musician and I went through several iterations, but the thistle remained the central image throughout.
I still have a soft spot for the first sketch. We discussed snakes as symbols of betrayal, and thistles happen to have lovely snaky tendrils around their seed pods. (Sometimes. I did a lot of foraging in weed patches, and Pinterest would have you believe that fields are simply full of snaky, tendrily thistles, but they are not. At least not in Northeast Ohio.) Then it occurred to us that having the plant's seed trapped in its own spikes was an interesting way to convey the self betrayal aspect.
Ultimately, we went with more subtle, surreal symbolism, but we left a little hint of the snakiness in the leaves and spikes, which remain my favorite part of the final painting.