Michael Bryan

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This creator of great '70s rock schlock album covers should not be confused with the veteran jazz guitarist of the same name. Mike Bryan went from garish portraits of Rod Stewart to creating cover packaging…
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This creator of great '70s rock schlock album covers should not be confused with the veteran jazz guitarist of the same name. Mike Bryan went from garish portraits of Rod Stewart to creating cover packaging for video and computer games in the '90s. Just as Bryan's illustrations for albums such as Stewart's A Night on the Town or Deep Purple vocalist Jon Lord's Sarabande were paid for by major record labels, big-time employers such as Lucas Arts seem happy to write him checks, as long as the result is a "carnage-infused masterpiece," to quote the latter studio's own hype.

Bryan's much-copied talent for creating hyper-real scenes originally involved a color palette much broader than simply blood red, however. His generous spirit regarding color -- the more the merrier -- could nonetheless be compared to a famous film director of the same era, Sam Peckinpah, but not because of the amount of death depicted on-screen. The vivid Technicolor wide-screen era in American Westerns, at times mimicked giddily by Bryan's use of hand-colored photographs, was perfectly suited to gatefold album covers printed on expensive card stock. Bryan does have gallery shows, but rummaging through the giveaway bin at the used record pile can sometimes be like a private showing of his work.