Layne and I were close collaborators, spending weeks at at time together dreaming up ideas. I had known him since the late 80’s when he would come up to me at shows and closely examine parts of the leather jackets I had painted the week before. Early on, he and his girlfriend Demri would ask me several times to make things for Alice In Chains. I was going to the University of Washington and told them I could not afford to let my grades drop. In 1992, manager Kelly Curtis finally persuaded me to draw something for their band.
I had seen Alice In Chains go from local shows to the top of MTV in just a couple of years and by the time Dirt was to be released, they seemed so huge I could not imagine stepping up to make something that would be cast into that sphere. I pictured an artist at the record label working in a black lacquered office being better sited for the job…
Stage Backdrop, Key Arena. Seattle WA. 1992
After delivering the Alice hanging illustration, and the next week at Pearl Jam’s Drop In The Park, hearing it was already being printed on shirts and in the process of being painted as a stage backdrop, came the moment I knew I could do it, took the graphic work seriously and began to paint everything in oils as a final product. I became part of a pipeline, from my little room on Capitol Hill, to the band, to the printers, to kids t-shirts in Europe. Everything I sent them over the years got used, except for this God Smack photo which was dismissed by the record label. Candlebox and Blind Melon also tried with their labels. Understandable rejections, but still a great image. I braided a crown of thorns, rented a pepper light and shot myself shirtless in a mirror.
Rock tells you what it is in primal, iconic imagery. There are archetypal forms built into our biology that mirror suffering and sacrifice.
Sickman, Oil Painting. 1992
Collection of Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA
Collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Pen and Ink Illustration of Mike Inez for Alice In Chains fanclub Christmas Card.
Alice Sunflower. Oil Painting
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