Donwood interview

by Jonathan on July 12, 2002

Below is an excerpt form the recent interview Stanley Donwood did with Idea Magazine:

About Yourself
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I was born in essex, england.? thirty-three years before some aeroplanes flew into the world trade center, new york, america.? my hometown was a small town where nothing much happened.? i didn’t know about anywhere else so i stayed there for nearly twenty years.? once i left i did not return.? i have had many horrible jobs.? the worst one was cleaning huge pots that were used for boiling pork.? i do not eat meat which made this task more repellant than it could have been.? the best job i had was window-cleaning.? we had a van and didn’t work very hard.? i liked seeing inside other people’s houses.? i worked on many farms.? bailing hay was pleasant but hard work.
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i was lucky enough to get into college but i didn’t work as hard as i should have.? i didn’t realise that until i left and it was too late.? i have always wanted to write and draw so thats what i did at college.? i made books.? after college i did more terrible jobs.? in my spare time i made posters to put up around the city and sneaked about at night with a pot of paint and a brush.? i painted pictures on derelict buildings.
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when i had children i moved away because there was a lot of heroin around.? in the city where i still live i became an unpaid artist in residence at a cyber cafe.? the cafe closed so i took over the building became a designer.? but i lost money and had to find other work.? by a stroke of luck a friend from college phoned me and asked if id like to work on a cover for a record his band were releasing.? the record was ‘my iron lung’ and the band were called radiohead.? fortunately radiohead became successful and i was able to continue working with them.? because of that i sometimes get work from other people.? this is much better than cleaning pots used to boil pork.
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Influences
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I can’t remember what or who i liked when i was at college.? maybe Hieronymus Bosch and Andy Warhol.? now, i can’t remember either.? but ill write some names that come into my head.? david shrigley, g sus, john constable, banksy, cex, miss kitten, gerald kersh, antonia bird, werner herzog, michael nyman, chuck palahniuk, haruki murakami, andy goldsworthy, richard brautigan, mutoid waste company, iain sinclair, banana yashimoto.? there are lots more but in sitting here just thinking and nothing much is coming out.
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Radiohead
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my attitude when i work with radiohead is to try to hear the pictures in the music.? that sounds stupid but its the only way i can?explain it.? the best thing i can think of is how i felt when kid a was finished.? it was as is i hadn’t done anything at all.? my hands were guided by the music.? maybe i didn’t think at all.? it sounds so crazy but i hope you understand.? listen to music and close your eyes while you have a pen in your hand and a piece of paper on the table.? let your hand be moved by the music.? when the song is finished open your eyes and see what you have done.
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i like to think that the pictures i draw for each record are a reasonable interpretation of the music i hear.? thom and me work next to each other telling each other what we like and don’t like.? when we finally agree on a picture thats pretty much how it ends up.? we make a lot?more pictures than we need then choose the best ones.

(thanks to John)



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