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Posted Jul 7th, 2015 (11:21 am) by Theresa Flanagan
James Livitski
Image by James Livitski

Stephen Wilkinson gave us a peek into his process of creating album artwork among other things, the last time we brought you Visuals. This week, James Livitski (Somnium Collective) will be sharing some of his graphical work and how he is inspired by music. First, we asked him to tell us a little about himself and how he got into graphic design.

"I'm a self-taught graphic designer born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. I now reside in Toronto, Canada. When I’m not creating new art pieces, I’m a musician and traveler. I play guitar and bass and have been a part of many bands over the years. In fact, much of my art has actually been inspired by music. Not necessarily each piece is titled by a song, but I'd say a great deal of my pieces are. Sometimes in the moment I'll just be listening to a certain song while I'm creating that piece and it'll kind of just stick with me whether it fits the theme of what I'm working on or not. I like doing that too because even though the song title and piece may not be exactly be a fitting match, it might give the viewer more ideas of what that piece could actually mean to them.

I became interested in graphic design while studying architecture a few years ago. I found myself more passionate about designing logos for companies instead of actually constructing blueprints for the buildings. Using various apps through my iPhone, I began to create images and eventually started posting them to my Instagram page. I have created pieces for both Wu-Tang Clan and Elijah Wood’s group, Wooden Wisdom. My next project is with my company Somnium Collective and we'll be working alongside The Tragically Hip creating artwork for their forthcoming album.

My love for graphic design really started years ago, though — before I even really knew what graphic design was. Back when I was a kid, my grandparents bought a Nintendo for my brother, sister and I. I became lost in the worlds of Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Castlevania and more. I may not be an avid gamer these days, but video games are definitely art and so much of my passion for creating came from those years. They also helped build my imagination. My parents would send me outside and I would envision a field in the backyard as a magical field; a trail would be a magical trail. It’s that imagination that has helped me create the pieces that I post today."

Anything you want to say about the cover piece?

"It was designed by me and my colleagues at my company Somnium. We launched this as one of our first pieces when we became an official company last year and is the header on our website. We created it for our love of astronomy and space travel."


Remember Me as a Time of Day

"Before I got into graphic design, I was studying architecture, so I have a keen interest in shapes and geometry. That along with my love for nature helped influence this piece.

The piece 'Remember Me as a Time of Day' is a track from Explosions in the Sky's album How Strange, Innocence. No real significance as to why I went with that title other than that's the song I was listening to when I finished the piece. But like I said, I kind of enjoy attaching song titles to my pieces that might not always make sense because it makes the viewer think more. That's why I've always loved the band Sigur Ros, because they sing in Icelandic, the titles of their tracks is in Icelandic, but you don't need to understand Icelandic to enjoy it. It's just really, really beautiful and makes you think, and the song could be whatever you want it to be about. That's one thing I hope to achieve with my artwork I do personally and for bands."


Drifting Upwards

"This image is one of my more personal edits because it portrays the direction of my life currently; after years of hard work, I feel like my life is finally drifting upwards."


Eastern Glow

"I had recently watched American Beauty for the first time in a while, and there’s this one scene where Ricky Fitts is talking about a bag and how it affects him; how there’s so much beauty in the world that he feels like he can’t take it. And this bag is just floating around blissfully with no agenda. With this image, the jellyfish are the bag. They’re just being. It helps me remind myself that sometimes you just have to look beyond what you first see because there’s always beauty to be discovered.

'Eastern Glow' was titled after The Album Leaf song. I was on a big Album Leaf kick at the time, and I was creating that piece when that song came on and I remembered it being titled 'Eastern Glow', and I felt it was perfectly fitting to the theme of my piece. Generally, you'd find jellyfish on the Eastern coasts of Canada and New England, so I thought it was pretty amazing how well the two complimented each other. So I went with that title."


Providence

"I love The Shining and I have a poster of the film in my bedroom, so one night while I was sleeping, I had a dream that I was on this beach and it was peaceful and then all of a sudden, the twins from the film appeared in the distance. I woke up and created this edit immediately.

The piece 'Providence' was directly inspired by the song by Foals. One of my favourite songs by them, and I've actually used the line in the song "I'm an animal just like you" for another piece I've done in the past. I went with that title too because of how the word 'providence' essentially means nature is providing a certain protection/care, and having the two girls with the seashell heads l kind of used that as my projection of the word as the girls are the protectors."


Imagined Herbal Flows

"This image is rather funny because a sense of déjà vu comes along with it. One night I dreamt of an astronaut walking through an endless supply of water. I woke up in the morning and created this edit because the visual was so cool to me. That night I went to watch Interstellar in the theatre and here’s these astronauts walking through water. I hadn’t known about that scene earlier, so it was quite strange yet very cool and surreal watching that in the film.

The piece 'Imagined Herbal Flows" is the name of downtempo band (Ben Gorvine's project) I've been really into as of lately, and who I was listening to a lot of when I created that piece. Again, no real significance behind the title, besides me really liking the title of the artist."

You can check out full size images in the gallery below, and see more of James' work over on Instagram, where his work was recently featured. Stay tuned for the next installment in the series coming your way in two weeks, when Brian Vu shares some beautifully personal shots.

Previously on Visuals:
Dorje de Burgh
Ellie Pritts
Stephen Wilkinson (Bibio)

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