Patch D Keyes creates work for the most interesting names in the music biz

“I’m always on the hunt for interesting textures so will capture anything good I see on my phone camera and play around with it on Photoshop to see if I can make it work in my illustrations,” says Bristol-based illustrator Patch D Keyes about the enticing grain to his work. “I also do a lot of printing out and scanning back in after defacing the print out in various ways to try and get a bit of random texture in there.”

We featured Patch on It’s Nice That six whole years ago but since then, he’s developed a large client base with the likes of Red Bull, Pitchfork, Ninja Tune and The Economist enlisting him for their retro-tinged needs. “I’m still drawing from the same type of influences as I was back then – psychedelic art, underground comics and the like – but I’ve actively been trying to push an otherworldly feel in my illustrations,” Patch tells It’s Nice That. Featuring robot arms picking oranges, exploding stone heads and flower pots revealing circuit boards underneath, the interaction of technology and nature makes for surreal material. “I feel like I can be a bit more blatant with pushing those areas of my work now I’ve built up a few clients who trust me to go a bit weird with it.”

Like many early-years illustrators, Patch used to feel like he needed to make changes for clients against his better judgment, and sometimes ended up doing work that didn’t quite feel like him. “The trust I get from some of my regular clients is now allowing me to produce a body of work that feels a bit more representative of me while (hopefully) still fulfilling their brief. I also have become a bit more comfortable with seeing myself as more of an all-rounder in that I tend to take on a lot of projects which means I play graphic designer as well as illustrator.”

One such trusting client is musician and label owner Ossia, who commissioned Patch to create all of the artwork for his Lava Lava label. “Coming up with ways to visually represent music is one of the best parts of my job as a whole and the fact that I happen to be really into the music is a bonus,” says Patch. “I just sit and listen to the track a few times and see what comes into my head or maybe use a track title as a jumping off point.”

Much of Patch’s work is currently located within the record industry, something that started because of who he was close to at the time but is still a total dream. “The appeal comes from an obvious love of music in general, but also a respect for people that are putting huge amounts of time, love and considerable financial risk into musical endeavours that may be ignored for the most part, but mean so much to those that do happen to connect with it.”

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