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Work / Illustration

Stefan Glerum applies his retro sci-fi illustration style to record sleeves

Illustrator Stefan Glerum has a knack for creating inner worlds in his drawings. Hyper real, space themed individuals are a regular fixture, each wearing eye masks (even the animals) that remind you of characters from Matt Groening’s Futurama

Stefan’s ability to illustrate an otherworldly scene makes him an ideal illustrator to commission for record sleeves, translating the music into a detailed colour landscape. One sleeve of Stefan’s_Sir Adam Vol.1_  was an illustration originally created for a mural at the Sir Adam hotel in Amsterdam. “Unfortunately the mural didn’t happen so the illustration was repurposed for a complementary record the hotel guests receive on their stay.”

As a result the brief to transform his mural to sleeve was completely open, just to arrange and add the data for a record format. Encouraged by the client to continue his style of “retro sci-fi modular vehicles”, Stefan went back to his original inspirations. “All things retro sci-fi, like Ralph McQuarrie (the original concept for Star Wars) eighties toys, and clear line artists like Ever Meulen inspire me to make these drawings. It is important to me that the work has a bit of a cult feeling and not just be plain sci-fi geeky.”

Another sleeve Stefan has created is Gargamel by Awanto 3. The brief he received from record label Dekmantel was to use a tight colour palette, “they want their LP’s to have a relatively simple yet impactful look,” he tells It’s Nice That. For the sleeve Stefan strayed away from his usual illustrational style to communicate Dekmantel’s “preference for an iconic image rather than a depiction of a scene”. The record is titled Gargamel after the artist created “the record in his cave-like home on the Dutch coast, he felt like the evil counterpart of the Smurfs; being locked away from society brewing up evil concoctions”. 

Stefan decided to apply this reference but also convey the electronic and house sounds from the record. “Because of the sound of the synths on the record I wanted the look to be reminiscent of late 70s/early 80s pop culture, but just reminiscent, not a pastiche,” says the illustrator. “I wanted to capture the sound by making an 80s toy/Star Wars spaceship following the profile of Gargamel’s head. I constructed it from different found plastic shapes: a round candy thing, some model kit parts, and mainly styrene plastic that I cut myself. It took me about two weeks before being airbrushed in a grey primer (time was running out), and photographed on a blue sheet of paper.” The 3D typography on the sleeve was also handmade by Stefan too, “first drawn out and cut and paste digitally as I usually do”. 

A recent sleeve Stefan has completed is for Bruxas,  again from the label Dekmantel. “I’m always happy when I can work on the sleeve design for records I really dig,” says Stefan, and his passion shows. “Because of the afrobeat rhythms and analog synths, I imagined this African landscape, sparse and hot, joyful, featuring an art deco drive-in with futuristic cows. The label liked the illustration, but in their mind the music sounded more Brazilian, so I added some palm trees to help with that.” 

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Stefan Glerum: Sir Adam

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Stefan Glerum: Sir Adam

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Stefan Glerum: Gargamel

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Stefan Glerum: Gargamel

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Stefan Glerum: Gargamel

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Stefan Glerum: Bruxas

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Stefan Glerum: Bruxas

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Stefan Glerum: Bruxas