June 2011

Before Became After

Mowing Music


May 2011

QA - album art

Phone Phobia









5-2-2011 - Quartus Artifactus Packaging



Quartus Artifactus is the 4th album to be released by the Uzbek prog/fusion band From.uz. Get wallpaper here.

QA is a collection of music (mostly instrumental pieces) culled from the band's first 3 releases, "Audio Diplomacy", "Overlook", and "Seventh Story", but performed live in a stripped down, more acoustic sound - what I like to call prog-chamber. Through the albums I have tried to retain a certain continuity to the look, bringing elements from each release into the next work. However, since QA was to be a stylistic departure, I decided to also depart artistically.

As it was to be a kind of From.uz unplugged album, Vitaly & I had discussed the possibility of a pencil drawing, or something with more of a handmade look.


Paper cover

For the band's 3rd album, "Seventh Story", I'd played with a SteamPunk look and had the guys pose for portrait photos in period Victorian costumes. Individual poses had been used in the booklet, but one of my favorites had not, a group shot of the band seated. I decided to try using filters on the photo to create the feel of a colored drawing. The flying jellyfish was an element from "Overlook". The title typographic treatment had been decided before any illustration because the band needed it for the post production work on the DVD.

First shot. Not the right approach. Vitaly has been quite insistent that my artwork be the most prominent element on the covers, not photos of the band. Next stop was the unplugged image.


Simple. Dramatic. Elegant. But, there was a niggling thought that bothered me; this music was not really unplugged. Some of the instrumentations has an acoustic sound, but they are still electric. I didn't want to mislead people. There was also an issue in the break stylistic continuity. Although the response from both Vitaly & Steve Carroll (10T Records) was positive, both had expressed concern that it might be too great a departure from previous Fromuz covers.



I'd begun a digital painting that was related to the previous covers which I showed to Vitaly. He agreed that it would be a good visual for the new album. The painting was inspired by this stock photo, which I then began modifying for a banner to advertise my Cafe Press Shop, originally named Prairie Marmot Mercantile, but recently renamed to make it easier for anyone looking for my stuff by name: Westphal Designs(www.cafepress.com/WestphalDesigns).

Stock Photo

Marmot Banner

I have to say I still really like the feel of the photographic landscape with towers and spheres added, BUT… I didn't want to be tied to a stock photo because my aim was to produce a painting that I could use for prints.

At first I stayed close to the photo with it's many jagged rocks showing, changing the clouds to get more of a feel of a storm front coming through.

Early No Towers

Towers began to grow along the shoreline, blocked in at first.

TowersEarly base

I wanted the feel of organic rock forms, as though the towers grew up and out of the water, with roots something like banyon trees. I kept thinking about something Tolkien said in either the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings about the roots of the mountains. I also began to remove some of the many small islands to give more room for the tower roots.

Sphere Closeup

Eventually the small islands disappeared. The large mechanicanical catfish made a brief appearance, but was later replaced by a sea serpent. The beginnings of a flying machine can be seen sketched on the left.

WithFish & Sketch

The toppled tower was moved further out to sea so that it was not such a focal point, smack dab in the middle of the composition. Flying machines were added, as well as a few floating islands on the horizon.

finished landscape

The illustration was then sandwiched, letterbox style into the cover, and is also a full 3 panel spread inside the eco-wallet package.

You can watch excerpts from the DVD at:






or listen to the band's discography in streaming audio at:



Ken Westphal is an illustrator/designer who lives in the Kansas City metro area. He is best known for his humorous illustration & cartooning. For a good number of years he worked with Brad Morgan (DDB Needham, Chicago), the creator of Chester Cheetah, on ads for Cheetos, which ran in a variety of publications and network TV.

Having freelanced since the early 80's, in 2003 Ken took a job with Kid Stuff Marketing as Senior Product Designer. During his 6 1/2 years with KSM, he designed character based toys for kids meals. Kid Stuff remains one of his clients.

Over the past decade, Ken has become more involved in creating art for the music industry, exploring another side of his creativity, tapping into his love of SciFi & fantasy.

Ken's clients include Frito-Lay, American Airlines, Logitech, Betty Crocker, Sports Illustrated & SI for Kids, Golf World, Citicorp, Southwest Airlines, Saatchi & Saatchi, Bozell Jacobs, Time Magazine & Nike, among others.

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