Illustrated Song Lyrics of James Clapham

James Clapham, who is shortly to complete an illustration degree at the Cambridge School of Arts, has a nice collection of illustrated song lyrics. I was interested in these because of the visual satisfaction that arises through integrating text and visual images and often surreal content that can emerge from song lyrics.

James Clapham song lyrics illustration

I asked James some questions based on this work series:

What made you choose to focus on lyrics within illustrations?

‘I chose song lyrics because I really wanted to progress with how I was drawing figurative images with type. It was a way of developing my work from early briefs where I had started to use type. I wanted a project that made me tackle very basic things such as layouts, colour schemes and drawing things I wouldn’t usually draw. Some songs, when you read through them, have some strange visual words in them, so it was about trying to play with them and make things relate to each other’.

James Clapham song lyrics illustration


Can you describe your work process from start to finish including the tools you use?

‘I’ll draw everything in my sketchbook as separate images. I’ll then tediously scan all the images into the computer and lay them out on Photoshop. I don’t add any effects to the images but like to retain a hand drawn feel as much as I can. I find using a computer for layouts helps me out a lot, especially for the song lyric project just because I was working with more layers than usual. That project required a great deal of leg work: some of the images had about 60 or so layers which made my computer freeze every time I tried to move something.

James Clapham song lyrics illustration


I like to theme ideas, like sometimes you might get an idea, then you can mix it with something else. That way you open up what you can draw and how you can run with something visually. Doing research helps, whether that be some visual like text or looking into a certain subject’.

James Clapham song lyrics illustration

Who are your most inspirational bands/artists?

‘Any east coast hip hop, mainly early to mid 90s stuff. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to music to be honest, lately i’ve been listening to this Q ball and Cazal ep pretty much non stop. When it comes to illustrators though, I like people like, craig atkinson, chris piascik, damien weighill….mainly things that are crude and have type in..i’m pretty easy to please’.

James Clapham song lyrics illustration

© James Clapham, 2009

The New Designers exhibition is next for James, which is coming up in mid July this year. As well as aiming to complete a masters degree and get more sun, James is currently looking for somewhere in Liverpool to do silkscreen work.

Good luck with it all, James,

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