School of Rock
Growing up, I got into rock music at a relatively early age. I remember being around 6 years old and seeing what I remember to be my first music video by Bon Jovi (it was “You Give Love a Bad Name” for those of you dying to know). I was hooked. A few years later a band called Guns N’ Roses showed up on MTV and my whole world was turned around. It was the video for “Paradise City,” which was shot during a live concert while they were on tour opening for Aerosmith. The song, the sea of faces that filled the stadium, and the swagger of the band in full swing, I knew at that moment that I wanted to play guitar and although I could not fully appreciate it at the time, I started paying particular attention to all of the accoutrements that go along with music: the scene, the emotion, the album artwork. Artwork that accompanies music still enamors me. It’s remarkable when the album artwork complements the music in such a way that the experience is multiplied. I get a sullen feeling with the thought that album artwork has, in some way, become devalued due to the emergence of the digital music era.
When I was trying to decide on a banner for the top of this website, I did what most folks probably do…I googled “website banner” and variants on that theme. It became an exercise in satisficing. Nothing really seemed to fit the theme of the site or at least what I envisioned the theme might be – an online academic portfolio that exuded my personality. I wanted to include something music-related, but it had to be something that evoked a sense of professionalism inherent in academia. That was going to be the magic formula for displaying my personality while still maintaining a quasi-professional look. Oh yeah, I also needed something that a copyright troll wouldn’t hound me over. After I sat back and reviewed my criteria, I still had no idea what to do.
Use Your Illusion
After a few idle months, the thought hit me to take a slice of a painting by Raphael called “School of Athens” and make that my header image. An artist named Mark Kostabi took a small piece of this painting, added some color, and voilà – a new piece of art was born. The original painting, a 48 x 36 inch oil on canvas, was bought by Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and subsequently was used as the album art for both Use Your Illusion I & II. The color scheme for the original painting is red and yellow, which is what can be seen on the Use Your Illusion I album cover. The scheme was changed to purple and blue for the Use Your Illusion II cover.
While the painting by Raphael is not exactly music-related, I felt it was a compromise between professionalism and personality, with a little hidden meaning tucked in the banner for me – and probably very few others – to enjoy. Many of the figures in the original painting have been identified as prominent philosophers (numbered in the picture below), but the figures on the album cover have not been identified. Check out the Wikipedia link to see the names of the identified philosophers.
“School of Athens” by Raphael (source: Wikipedia)