Gregory Serpanchy: Bringing album art back

Pic of Gregory Serpanchy By: Sheena Lyonnais
November 11, 2008

In an era where iTunes and Myspace are taking over HMV and record stores, album art seems at risk of going the way of Atlantis and becoming a lost form.  Toronto artist-turned-musician-turned-artist Gregory Serpanchy is trying to fight that with his unique indie art. 

“I remember being a kid and looking at cassettes and how you used to fold them out and read every lyric along with the album and there would be all this cool imagery and pictures of the band and you felt like you really got to know them,” Serpanchy said.  “Now you jump online and read their Myspace profile and that’s it.  Your art is your merchandise; it’s everything.  It personifies you and makes you who you are.  It just gives people an image to look at and relate you with.”

Serpanchy spent the last five years playing in the now-defunct band Silent Seymour where his love of art and music collided in the form of band posters and CDs. He started using Photoshop and digital design and before long other bands began contacting him about designing their posters.

Toronto Artist Gregory SerpanchyI met up with Serpanchy at the Parkdale Drink where his exhibit Make Space is currently on display. A quaint little place, it seems appropriate for this conversation. Make Space stems from the notion that every time we create something new, we get rid of something old.

“I understand where bands are coming from and yeah, the disc is dying, so with that in mind I took on web design.  It’s the new disc,” he said.

Serpanchy has worked on art and design for the Dunes, Hungry Lake and Clothes Make the Man, to name a few.  He stresses the importance of cohesiveness; of having things flow together and look like one tight package, and says this is what he hopes to do with his services.

“Your album art at one point people were saying is your business card for a band.  Now it’s your website.  What I try to offer for the bands and what I’m working towards is when you come to me with a brand new album, you want to promote the hell out of.  What better way to promote it than to have all your merchandise, your website and your album art all match and be all one thing. It’s all one price, you’re going to one artist, everything looks the same, I can take care of all of it for you,” he said.

Since Serpanchy spent so much time playing in bands he comprehends arguably the most important thing a designer/artist can understand: money problems.

Dan Gordon by Gregory Serpanchy“The hardest part with bands is getting paid. We know bands have no money; if they do they’re using it for better gear.  Or they’re just getting drunk,” Serpanchy joked.  “Other than that, I like working with bands.  I feel like I’m on a more personal level with bands because I know where they’re coming from and I know how much it costs.  I’m willing to drop my prices to get their stuff out there.”

A large number of Serpanchy’s works can be viewed on his website.  The imagery is all over the map from cityscapes to majestic fish portraits to dark images of lonely characters.  It is clear he has a wide range of talents encompassing digital and conventional art methods.   Some of his works emit an aura of peace and calming.  Other ones reek of too much drugs and alcohol.  I think it’s safe to say he could probably come up with anything.

Art of Gregory Serpanchy“At the end of the day I just love it.  They go hand in hand, music and art,” Serpanchy said.  “I’m waiting for this band to show up with an incredible budget that will just let me fly with what I want to do in terms of packaging, the layout for the album and what the imagery is going to be.  I’ve got so many great ideas, you’ve got to make things interesting and if you can get something that is essentially a toy, it just makes the album worth that much more.”

To check out Serpanchy’s work or to inquire about his services visit   www.gregoryserpanchy.com.   You can also head to the Parkdale Drink (Queen/Dufferin) while his work is still on display.

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