Most friends of Antsy McClain's music know that he has designed and illustrated all of his own albums, DVDs and book covers. Proficient in Photoshop and other computer graphic programs, Antsy honed his skills as a graphic designer at his first jobs in t-shirt print shops, daily newspapers, book and magazine publishers and advertising agencies. “Long before songwriting became a thing for me,” explains Antsy, “Art was my biggest passion. I was always drawing, always looking at the world with an artist’s eye. And when folks started referring to me as ‘a visual writer,’ it was probably because of my earlier years as an artist. I want to create a picture in your mind with my songs, like painting with words. If I hadn’t been an artist first, I doubt I’d be writing in the same way.” If you have a project that needs graphic attention, feel free to contact him HERE. He’s always busy with music and other art projects of his own, but he often finds the time for outside freelance work. Antsy has worked with all kinds of design projects, from logo design to book design. “I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess,” says Antsy, “I get up in the morning and I get to do what I love.”
Antsy's Own Album Covers “I like to think of myself as my band’s first groupie,” Antsy laughs, “I designed all of our band’s t-shirts and posters. I still do. When we got our first record deal, I made them put it in writing that I had graphic control over everything – especially our album covers. They had seen my work and thankfully said okay. I think I was just as excited to design the album cover as I was to record my first album. I spent weeks on it, wanting it to be just right.” Buy Antsy's music HERE.
Antsy's Own Book Covers As the author of 6 books, Antsy feels the cover and overall design has to reflect the book’s mission statement, from humorous escapism to thoughtful memoir. He’s often thinking of the cover and graphics while composing the book textually. “It’s a hand-in-hand process for me,” he says, “The visual often informs the content, and vice versa.” Buy Antsy's books HERE.
The Tennessee Magazine Antsy has been the art director and designer of The Tennessee Magazine, published in Nashville, for more than 25 years. He's also written many articles for the publication. It’s published monthly and promotes travel, food, culture and the arts in Tennessee, as well as being the face of 24 hard-working Electric Cooperatives across the state. Check it out HERE.
Other Artist’s Album Covers “Helping my musician friends with their vision for their albums and posters has been some of my most rewarding work as a graphic artist,” says Antsy, “I always try and make the schedule and budget work.” Above left, "When Pete Huttlinger told me the title of his forthcoming collection of arrangements of Stevie Wonder songs, I was hooked. "Finger Picking Wonder." It was so clever. The only direction he gave me was to graphically combine something that would say "Stevie Wonder" with an acoustic guitar. He and I discussed it while I Googled images and when the album cover for 'Songs in the Key of Life' popped up, we said, 'That's it!' Pete loved how it turned out, which is big time pay dirt, given his rich career as a musician and how brilliant he was. Learn more about Pete HERE. Above right, Antsy’s dear friend Edgar Cruz approached him with the concept for his latest Beatles homage, calling it Yesterday Tripper. “I loved the concept and the name, says Antsy, “Edgar is a very creative guy, and for him to trust me on one of his projects was a big deal. I set out collecting all the pictures of Edgar I could find, and composed them around my ink drawings of Edgar to mimic the Revolver album art drawn and composed by the amazing Klaus Voormann. This was a lot of work, but so much fun to see it come to fruition. Edgar Cruz’s music, videos and more are HERE.
Above left, Antsy’s friends, Mare Wakefield and Nomad had found a beautiful piece of art they loved for the cover and needed a type treatment to match. “I designed everything to get out of the way of those vivid colors, and brought those colors into the rest of the packaging," explains Antsy, "Their music is so well written and performed, and their vision is so focused, I knew a heavy hand would be wrong for this project.” Check them out HERE. Above right, Nate Lee is a master musician. When he wanted to promote his ability to fit in and “play well” with other musicians in this amazing collection of songs, he called Antsy. “Nate gave me the photos he wanted to use,” says Antsy, “And asked me to do the rest. I relied heavily on textures and tools in Photoshop to replicate the folky feel of the music.” You can learn more about Nate Lee and purchase his music HERE.
Above left, Antsy first met Kevin Ward after a show in Atlanta, Kevin's home town. Soon they were hanging out together on one of the Nashville Field Trips Antsy hosts with his wife, Deana Lynn. Then he came to another, and then another. Now, several years later, they've become good friends. "Kevin trusted me to produce his first album," explains Antsy. "When he first showed up at a Field Trip, he was so timid, but had no reason to be. His songs are great and he's a magnificent guitar player." The album, "Long Overdue," produced (and designed) by Antsy McClain can be found HERE. Above right, Trop Rock Singer/songwriter Brent Burns has been entertaining people with his music and wit for decades, and came to Antsy with the concept for his upcoming album, "Somewhere South of Here," firmly in mind and needing dressed up a bit. "I had to dig pretty deep into my Photoshop skills to pull this one off," recalls Antsy, "But I had a lot of fun with it." See all of Brent Burns' musical output HERE.
Other Author’s Book Covers “I encourage my friends to write their memoirs,” Antsy explains, “To not wait until they’re famous or somehow noteworthy enough by the standards of the world before doing so. And now, in the digital printing era, anyone can publish a book! It may just be 100 copies, or even less, but most everyone has enough friends and loved ones to warrant telling their story, sharing what they’ve lived through, what they’ve lost and what they’ve learned along the way.” Above left, Antsy’s cover design for the double memoir by his friends Pete and Erin Huttlinger remains a favorite project. It chronicles their battle with Pete’s congenitally damaged heart, his subsequent stroke and the fight to relearn everything, including how to play the guitar all over again. The book (along with Pete’s amazing music) can be purchased HERE. Above right, Antsy’s longtime friend, David Kravetz, travels America with boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm, often taking notes on this country’s strangest and most interesting towns and tourist attractions. His book series, (with covers designed by Antsy) can be purchased HERE.