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Interview with Ioannis

Graphic artist Ioannis has more than 165 record covers under his proverbial belt, including some that you might know very well. He kindly agreed to answer our questions.

THS: Your work with Deep Purple included cover art for Abandon (1998) and Rapture of the Deep (2005), and graphic design for Bananas (2003). Anything else?

Ioannis: I was introduced to Deep Purple, specifically, Bruce Payne (their manager) and Roger Glover, by a good friend Jim Lewis. He at the time managed Yngwie Malmsteen (a client) among other acts. He was also the VP of A&R with Polygram in the early 80s and had worked with Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Abandon cover art, © 1998 Ioannis, reproduced with permission.They had just completed Abandon and were running late in getting the cover art together. I sat at Bruce’s office and along with Roger, who has always been the art director for the band as long as I have worked with them, and discussed a series of ideas. About a week later I showed them several concepts, the cover that eventually became Abandon was one of them. I then was asked to design a tour book, which I did with Roger, merchandise and tour laminates.Abandon tour merchandise artwork, © 1998 Ioannis, reproduced with permission Since then I have worked with them on every studio release (compilations and best offs are usually designed in-house by the label and the band is not involved creatively). So to fully answer your question, yes I did the singles, merchandise, tour books and tour passes for the tours. I also was asked to design promotional posters during the Bananas tour.

THS: How much creative freedom did you have during these projects?

Ioannis: They pretty much let me run with it so they can see the first batch of ideas, then Bruce and Roger get heavily involved in the final. In the case of Bananas, they had the concept and presented me with two photos to work with.Bananas tourbook artwork, © 2003 Ioannis, reproduced with permission One was from a company in Hong Kong, I think, which became the tour book, and another was a photo Bruce took, which became the cover. For Rapture of the Deep, Roger had this cartoon that he found, he intended to use it as the basis for a concept he wanted but at the end we ended up using the cartoon. Ian Gillan liked it a lot.

On the tour book art I co-designed the first with Roger (Total Abandon) but the last two I did my own thing with direction from Bruce Payne. Haunted single artwork, © 2003 Ioannis, reproduced with permissionOne of my most favorite images that I did was the singles cover art for Haunted off the Bananas album, which the band loved, and was also used as a T-shirt.

THS: Overall impressions from working with Deep Purple?

Ioannis: They are pros and really get involved in the final piece. Specifically, Roger. Bruce tries to keep it all moving along so we don’t miss deadlines.

Roger is extremely creative, always looking for the best approach trying to always keep it interesting, he is a good artist and photographer by the way. I always like the fact that he challenges me when we design, to do the best I can. He also is very easy going and has a great sense of humor.

THS: Was it any different from working with other bands?

Ioannis: Yes in the sense that like their peers that I also have worked with — Uriah Heep, Lynyrd Skynyrd, King Crimson, Blue Oyster Cult, etc — they take their craft very seriously and all aspects down to the art and packaging. I think it’s the generation they are from. It’s more spotty with contemporary bands, which I think is a huge mistake. Great packaging and branding can yield huge results if done properly with the band’s music — Yes, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden are examples that come to mind — plus they pay huge dividends in the merchandise arena. The latter has become a big focus in today’s times.

THS: Anything else you would like to tell us?

Ioannis: Do you have an hour? 🙂 The last time out was a bit memorable, we were really behind schedule, so Roger would come to our office for about a week (we don’t live far from his house and the management) from morning until late afternoon, and we worked diligently on all the packaging configurations until it was all done. We had great laughs and amazing stories he told us, he even went one day to get us lunch at MacDonalds which was surreal, hah ha ha!

In closing I just want to say that this was an honor as I was a reader of The Highway Star before Deep Purple hired me. Me and my brother George, whom I run the firm with, have been DP fans since we first saw them as kids during California Jam. For me Machine Head was the first rock album I bought along with Uriah Heep’s Demons And Wizards. I now work with both acts.

Finally, as your readers know, we did commemorative prints when Deep Purple debuted playing Machine Head in its entirety, only 25 artist proofs exist, they are numbered and signed by me and the band. All income earned are being donated to the TJ Martell foundation to find a cure for cancer. I know times are tough but please buy one if you can, they are very valuable, come framed, matted and with a certificate of authenticity and it’s a great cause.

We would like to thank Ioannis for finding time in his busy schedule to answer our questions. We already wrote about the sale of the commemorative artwork, which can be purchased through his website Dangerous Age (directly to the artwork).

5 Comments to “Interview with Ioannis”:

  1. 1

    […] Deep Purple’s ultimate fansite the Highway Star just published a interview with Ioannis about his work and experiences with the legendary rock band. Ioannis talks about how he met the band, working with them and shows some of the images he designed. you can read the entire interview by clicking here […]

  2. 2
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Is this thing working?

    I found one of the best things about ‘Abandon’ to be the nice art direction, photo shoot, layout and concept.

    Very precise and informative interview.

  3. 3
    Bo says:

    All the nice things said about Roger are 101% true.

  4. 4
    Jeffs says:

    Interesting interview and insight to the boys from a different perspective… Ioannis, you and I brought pretty much the same firts 2 albums. I still love them both!! you have great taste in music;)

  5. 5
    ioannis says:

    Happy to read the nice compliments and responses, if anyone has any further questions, post him here and I will respond. cheers Ioannis

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