Tyler, The Creator announced his plans for Igor, his follow-up to his acclaimed Flower Boy on Monday (May 6). The album is set to drop May 17. The 28-year-old also revealed a pair of covers on Instagram, with the first featuring a photo of Tyler above a text description of his contributions to album; the second cover, which will be used for the vinyl release, is a portrait of Tyler designed by Portland, Maine-based artist Lewis Rossignol.
Rossignol first heard from the Odd Future co-founder when Tyler slid into his DMs with a few messages about six months ago. The pair hopped on FaceTime in April to discuss the artistic direction of the illustration, but Lewis had no idea his work would be used as an album cover.
The 39-year-old artist tells Billboard that “literally three days ago, [Tyler] said, ‘I know I said it was going to be for an art [project], but I think I’d rather use it for my album.”
Rossignol, who began drawing to help ease the tics brought on by Tourette’s, spoke with Billboard by phone about his collaboration with Tyler, The Creator, the inspiration the art for Igor and much more.
I told u all I had some big projects in the works. Honored that Tyler asked me to be a part of his new album, IGOR, which drops really soon. I can’t wait to see the vinyl’s with my art on the cover!!! #tylerthecreator #feliciathegoat #contemporaryart #contemporarydrawing #igor #lewisrossignol #albumart #albumcover
Billboard: What is your background as an artist?
Lewis Rossignol: I went to school for illustration [and graduated] a few years ago. The reason I like to draw is because I have Tourette’s Syndrome. Drawing eases my tics. A couple of years ago, I realized doing my own personal work was much more calming than meeting deadlines for other people. This project for Tyler came out of the blue. I usually don’t do a lot of commission work.
How did you link up with him?
It was probably six months ago when I got an Instagram message from Tyler. I was getting quite a few messages every day, so I actually didn’t even see it at first. He messaged me a few times. I responded as soon as I saw the message. From there, we talked and he wanted me to do work for me, but he wasn’t very specific. I didn’t know if anything would come of it.
Three weeks ago, he called me on FaceTime. He said he was thinking about doing an art project and wanted a portrait of him. A couple days later, he asked if I had started it yet. I kind of stopped everything I was doing and started working on it for a few days. I sent him a couple different versions and it snowballed from there. He was really excited about the artwork.
Just three days ago — literally three days ago — he said, “I know I said it was going to be for an art [project], but I think I’d rather use it for my album.” I didn’t even know I was doing the album cover until three days ago. I didn’t know the album was coming out so soon. I was really glad I worked in a square format. Maybe that’s why he wanted it to be an album cover because it was already a square and worked well for it. I don’t know what made me do it.
Where did the inspiration for the illustration come from?
Tyler specifically gave me pictures of him to work from. He sent me a picture of him wearing this blond wig, sunglasses, a suit, and gold teeth. He had a vision of what he wanted. I went back-and-forth on what he would want in it. I write things in my pieces. It didn’t have “Igor” written on it until the last minute, when he told me that was going to be the name of the album. I don’t know what the meaning of Igor is, but if you look into the jacket he’s wearing in the piece, the top left actually has some of his handwriting that he sent me and I worked it in. That five percent is actually Tyler.
He’s really creative. I would bounce ideas off of him, and he would give me his input too. It was nice to work with someone who really understands art. He was really accessible: I could text him and he would hit me back immediately.
Have you been a fan of Tyler’s work?
Yeah, definitely a fan of what he does. There’s always been something about his music that speaks to the creative part of me. His rapping isn’t like typical hip-hop music.
Is your cover going to be on the vinyl edition?
Yeah, this will be one of the vinyl covers. Every album he’s done has two covers, one by him and another by an artist. This one will have me as the artist. I think he’s going to use it for the vinyl and a couple other marketing things. Photographer, Luis Perez, may have had a hand in the other cover.
Have you heard any of the music coming on Igor?
I haven’t heard any of the music. I think it was recorded really recently, in the past couple of weeks. When I spoke to him three weeks ago, he was telling me about his new album coming out, and he said the music wasn’t recorded yet. With the album coming out on May 17, the art and the music came together really quick. I think that’s pretty common for Tyler.