Ewan Atkinson caught up with graphic designer Doug Dean to talk about his project #30GreenDays and how punk has inspired his work.
So, what is #30GreenDays? It’s a design experiment reimagining one Green Day song a day during the month of June 2016. It’s a creative pitch with the goal to design their next album. The project is posted on social media and relies on fan support to spread the word and ultimately grab the attention of Green Day.
When did you first get the idea to do #30GreenDays? (And why?) I’m an art director and designer working at a branding studio and I’ve always been a fan of Green Day, so doing their album art would be the ultimate project. When Billie Joe made his “destroy the phrase pop-punk” mission tweet at the start of 2016, I felt that smart branding and the right design would help.
I had the opportunity to talk with Larry Livermore, the guy who discovered Green Day and founded Lookout records. He told me the best way to get noticed by the band would be to do something on social media where the fans would see it, and eventually the band. So I came up with #30GreenDays.
Which has been your favourite so far? The best for me are the ones that strike you emotionally. The Donald tRUMP art forAmerican Idiot was fun to make, and seems to be the fan favourite so far. I wanted to come out of the gate strong, so that was the first post. Jesus of Suburbia is clean and minimal, but very impactful. 21 Guns was released in response to the Orlando shooting in the United States. It’s a great example of how art can make a powerful statement.
Has Green Day inspired any of your previous work? The cover of Nimrod was the reason I wanted to become a graphic designer. I was 12 when it came out. I used to imagine what new records would look like before they were revealed. Nimrod was like nothing I’d ever imagined. It wasn’t a drawing, but it was art. It used typography, photography, and shape in a smart way. It was visually witty. It was graphic design.
What’s your favourite Green Day song? There are too many to choose from! Longview takes me back to my youth when I discovered the band. The power of American Idiot kicking off its record and ending with Whatsername gives me chills. So does 21 Guns. The song Waiting was played at the end of my wedding ceremony as my wife and I walked down the aisle together, so that always brings me positive feelings.
Favourite Green Day album cover? Nimrod as it inspired me to become a graphic designer. American Idiot for its graphic simplicity but emotional impact. The Saul Bass influenced design made so much sense for their rock opera. I remember seeing someone comment online about how the art was bad because it was so simple that they could draw it. That’s a dumb opinion. Simplicity works because it sticks in your head and can carry a powerful message. Just because you can draw it doesn’t mean you could have come up with the idea.
How was politics influenced your work so far? Working with Anti-Flag always allows me to use politics as fuel to make provocative art. I also did a self initiated Bernie Sanders poster series. Political art is great because it allows you to make a statement that can inspire others or start an important conversation.
You worked with anti-flag for their last album American Spring how did that come about? When I was still in school for graphic design I was lucky enough to be introduced to the band from a classmate who was married to one of the members. It was right at the time Anti-Flag signed to RCA and working on For Blood and Empire. They asked me if I wanted to show some concepts. Being a huge fan I was blown away and very nervous. I never had a client before and Anti-Flag was my first.
I ended up not doing the For Blood and Empire art but did some t-shirt designs. So I always felt like I blew it. I stayed in touch with the band over the years and eventually became friends. Chris #2 and I worked on interesting side art projects together and when they decided they were going to record American Spring I got my second chance.
Have you got any other punk related projects up your sleeve? Anti-Flag runs A-F Records, so I get introduced to a lot of great punk bands and occasionally do their art. Mace Ballard was recently signed and are releasing their debut,Lanterns, in July. Which is lucky enough to be asked to design. The Homeless Gospel Choir is currently recording a new album and we’re playing around with a few concepts together. Since both these bands are local to Pittsburgh and the A-F community is like a family, our relationship goes beyond just a working one. I’m honoured to call these talented musicians my friends.
Plus I may do a Trump inspired art show in the fall. The crazy political election about to happen in the United States is a great opportunity to do impactful art.
You can (and should) check out Doug’s art on Instagram and Twitter at @dougdeanart or on his website 30greendays.com.