THE Belfast artist responsible for visual assets and art direction of legendary Irish band U2’s current Innocence and Experience World Tour once used his artistic talent to help promote an Irish guitar company.
Last week Donegal luthier Alistair Hay, founder of Emerald Guitars, attended one of U2’s Belfast concerts where an artist, very familiar to him, was paid tribute to during the show.
Performing in the city for the first time in 17 years, the Dublin band gave a shout-out to the man who created visual assets and gave art direction for their tour. Oliver Jeffers, a world-renowned artist born in Australia, brought up in Northern Ireland and now living and working in Brooklyn, New York in the United States.
The last time U2 played Belfast was coincidentally also the year that Alistair started his business Emerald Guitars. When Alistair first exhibited his guitars at the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim, California, in 2003 he decided to build two custom guitars that would attract some attention.
The idea was to use guitars as a three-dimensional canvas, so we approached our friend Oliver (Jeffers) to paint a couple of guitars and these were the result. We sent two guitars up to Oliver and the brief was simple ‘do what seems right’. I had no idea what to expect when I went up to Belfast to collect them, but I was a fan of Oliver’s work so, of course, I loved them both.
“They definitely got some strange looks and created much discussion as to the why’s and what for’s, but then that’s exactly what good art is supposed to do. I have kept these guitars/paintings hanging in my office ever since.”
“They are fun, eye-catching guitars that play and sound as good as they look. They have been painted with acrylics and brush, leaving all the texture of the work. We simply clear-coated it for protection. It is nice to be able to feel every brush stroke. You don’t often get to hold a painting so close.”
Jeffers has worked with U2 quite extensively over the last number of years. As well as creating visual assets and giving art direction for the Innocence and Experience World Tour, which rolled into Dublin this week, Jeffers co-directed the video for Ordinary Love with Mac Premo in 2013. Jeffers also made a video based around street art in Northern Ireland for U2’s Songs of Innocence opener The Miracle of Joey Ramone, as part of the band’s Films of Innocence project.
From figurative painting and installation to illustration and picture-book making, Jeffers work takes many forms. His distinctive paintings have been exhibited in multiple cities, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Brooklyn Museum, Lazarides Gallery and Gestalten Space, Berlin.
His picture books have been translated into over 30 languages, including Lost & Found, Stuck, The Hueys, The Incredible Book Eating Boy, The Great Paper Caper and most recently the New York Times bestsellers Stuck, This Moose Belongs to Me and The Day Crayons Quit (#1). Working in collaboration with Studio AKA, Jeffers’ second book Lost and Found was developed into an animated short film that has received over sixty awards including a BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film. www.oliverjeffers.com
For more information on Emerald Guitars please visit their website at www.emeraldguitars.com
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