Prior to 2011, if I had made a list of bands and artists I’d aspire to collaborate with, Godspeed You! Black Emperor would crown it. Their inclusion would’ve been void of expectations or reality, especially since they had not been an active band since 2003. Their sprawling, crashing surges compelled my work via headphones and vinyl for years. In 2011, when they posted a type-written note proclaiming their reformation, I was ecstatic. I purchased a ticket well ahead of time for the Portland show. One day soon after they reached out to me. The email sat in front of me flickering on the screen. I read it and re-read. I even had Andy read it over my shoulder to confirm what I was seeing.
Godspeed’s past visual aesthetic was quite minimal. The chipboard sleeves and spot color printing certainly established a feeling, but aside from a few illustrations by Efrim, all was ingeniously cryptic. I don't think there had been official posters.
As an illustrator, there is a strange challenge in working with material that you have lived with for years. Godspeed had already formed visual epiphanies of alchemical eyes and divinely inspired charts of man’s micro and macrocosm, images that bore fruit on the astral plane but harnessing them into the physical would be a bit intimidating and very exciting.
My usual edition tops off at 150-300, with an occasional larger run. In the case of GY!BE, the first run of the 2011 poster sold out by the end of the west coast shows. Since the tour was to continue to the east coast and Canada, and the fact that we had a two week window, we ran another batch. In addition, there was a European edition (on different paper and colorway) printed by Seripop (Canada). Since the total number of the first poster was so large, it was not numbered. I actually do not know how many were made, though my guess is around 4500.
I was later asked to create a second piece to commemorate a string of California shows. They began with an absolutely incredible night in Big Sur where the band played outdoor in a field followed by camping. Then there were 5 sold out nights at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
I continued with the underlying theme in the new composition. This time the figure was grounded, illuminating, searching for truth. Though the figure this time is not ascending physically, a reference to the upcoming album’s title “Don’t Bend, Ascend” is featured at top.