This week we take a look at some of the designs that define Ibiza's party scene.
For this week's feature, RA sits down with the creatives behind some of the White Isle's most iconic artwork. We also find out what it's like to be a bartender in Ibiza, as well as offering our opinion on recent parties at Gala Night, Vista Club and DC-10.
In a clubbing market as competitive as Ibiza, a party's success can swing on the strength of its visual identity. In fact, you could argue that creating a memorable, recognisable brand is just as important as the DJs you book. We caught up with the creative minds behind several of the island's biggest ventures to better understand the work that goes into making a party aesthetically stand out from the rest.
“I initially started working with Sasha on a series of record covers for his label, Last Night On Earth. The Never Say Never artwork had to work across various platforms including billboards, records, t-shirts and other merchandise, so it had to be far more adaptable than the labour-intensive drawing I had previously done. I wanted it to have a summery, tropical vibe to it, so I tried to use colours and shapes that evoked those themes.
The final artwork had to work across four record sleeves, so I wanted there to be a progression from day to night to convey the different experiences people have while in Ibiza. The artworks have a little narrative in each one and when they are placed together they make up a day to night panoramic scene on the island. As for the flamingos, I just love them! I can't really make work without some kind of wildlife in. The idea was to convey all the different things Ibiza had to offer, not just the nightlife. They are such great birds to draw and a brilliant colour.” - Susie Wright, visual artist.
“I started working with Jamie in January 2013. For Paradise, he didn't want things to be too dark, he wanted there to be light and plenty of colour. He wanted a certain sharpness to the objects and for the designs to have that surreal quality, to look like a alien, futuristic landscape. He's trying to put together an event where people go to have a great time, so you want the images to be bold, exuberant and a bit dreamy. It fits into his whole aesthetic with Hot Natured and the label. But you're also trying to give it a bit of a classic look as well. There are no laser beams, no ships or giant eclipsed moons. It's pretty straightforward. It's just the landscape, the sky and the object.
They're all 3D map paintings. They take a little bit of time to make because they're not photoshop layers, or collage, they're all original. I'm not going through an archive and using images I come across, that's not my style. I do them by hand and then I transform them into 3D. The actual perspective is that of a camera. The process is called 3D mapping and it basically involves photographing the objects as they sit in 3D space. We then take that and make it into a high-res image. I don't think there are that many people doing this with still images, it's more of a video thing.” - Neil Krug, visual artist.
"We came up with the idea to base our campaign around 16 photos of the Music On logo, one for each party. In each photo, the logo would be physically constructed from different recyclable materials, from volcanic stone to wood, brick and iron. The theory behind this was simple: in today's world everyone is an expert with machines or computer programs, but very few can actually paint or play the guitar. We wanted to take it back to basics, to strip it back to the origins of nature and human creativity. If you've ever been to Music On, you'll know the party itself adheres to the same ethos. There's nothing fake.
The logo itself was the result of a long process. Marco and I were just about to confirm a totally different design, when a graphic designer called Lucio Longo, who used to work with Marco and myself almost 20 years ago, came to us with the current logo. We fell in love with it straight away and confirmed it there and then. Regarding the colours, again we chose those most closely associated with nature. Every element of the party feeds back into that same idea." - Luca Piccolo, Marco Carola's manager and promoter at Music On.
"Kehakuma was born from a desire to host a night at Space that stayed true to the roots of electronic music, a party that distanced itself from the world of bright lights and big name DJs. We wanted the music to prevail above all else, to present it in its purest, most raw form. Japanese art and culture is founded upon a scrupulous attention to detail. It's all about minimalism and the ability to find beauty in the simplest things. Japan is the embodiment of the phrase 'less is more,' and that's exactly what we wanted to capture with the Kehakuma designs.
This season the relationship between the music and the artistic concept has been particularly strong. The central theme this year has been metamorphosis. The artwork has been all about the various stages of transformation from chrysalis to butterfly, and our bookings have followed a similar trajectory. At each of our parties we have witnessed a musical metamorphosis, thanks to the collaboration of new and up-and-coming artists with some of the most important DJs in the history of our scene." - Edu Clarà, press manager at Space.
"Our ambition was to create the atmosphere of a private party. We wanted to evoke that sense of freedom and confidence, of a place where no one takes themselves too seriously. Therefore the artwork is a little bit silly and hilarious but also full of humanity and friendliness. For us, playfulness is the key to creativity. The illustrated cartoon characters form the basis of the visual. We call it “the orgy." Of course it's just a harmless orgy where people are licking each other, there's no actual sexual act. It fits perfectly because the core of every party is love. Every single character in the orgy is unique but together they're a big party crowd. There is so much to discover it never gets boring when you look at it. And then there's the tongue: the tongue was always a symbol for madness, rebellion and self-confidence in pop culture.
For us, working by hand has always been our preferred method. Hand-drawn art has more soul and character. We only use computers to complete a few details. Thomas created all illustrations by hand. The orgy took him ten days to complete, and then Michael Seiser, an animator from Hamburg, worked for a few days to animate each individual figure. Nikolaus took care of all the graphic design work for posters, billboards and Facebook alongside Artemio. And of course Mladen Solomun, who has a great artistic intuition, came up with a lot of the ideas. It's teamwork at its best." - Artemio Tensuan, Nikolaus Ronacher and Thomas Schumann, creative team at Solomun +1.
Behind the scenes: Sonia Sequi Atienzar
More so than anywhere else in the world, bartenders form a vital part of the clubbing landscape in Ibiza. We caught up with Sonia Sequi Atienzar, a bartender with more than nine years experience at Space, to discuss the ins and outs of the role, and to work out just what is the best way to go about securing yourself a free drink.
Tell us about your relationship with the island. How long have you been working behind the bar at Space?
I came to Ibiza nine years ago, in 2005. I've always worked on and off in the catering industry, as that's what my family dedicated themselves to. So I came here with a bit of experience, got a job at Space in my first year and here we are! This job has allowed me to pursue other interests and to pay off my university bills. When I finished uni, I wasn't totally sure I wanted to make a career out of what I'd studied so I came to Ibiza. I fell in love with it and have been coming here every summer since.
How many shifts will you work a week?
At Space we work five nights a week, with two nights off. You either start at 9.30 or 11.30 PM, and go through until close, which is somewhere between 6.30 and 7.30 AM. I always work at the same bar (up the stairs by the DJ booth) with one other bartender. I've been working there for five years.
Ibiza is famous for its exaggerated drinks prices. Has it always been like this or is it a more recent phenomenon?
When I arrived in Ibiza the drinks prices struck me as expensive, but affordable. Space has raised its prices significantly since then, as have all the other venues on the island. It is totally excessive in my opinion. Also, the rate of consumption has definitely decreased, to the extent that even though the drinks cost more, the bars are making less money than they were before.
Do you encounter problems as a result of how high the prices are?
Yeah, you always get people who complain, usually the British. I explain to them that when you consider that a single shot in London in a club will cost you £6 or £7, and a double upwards of £10 or £11, then paying €17 for a generous double in Ibiza is not that absurd. People never take that into account though, they just see the price tag and get a shock. Of course, compared to the rest of the Europe you're paying way over the odds.
What's the most lucrative night of the week?
Any of the nights that attract a foreign crowd. When the crowd is full of holidaymakers, they tend to drink much more. Also, DJs the size of Carl Cox bring in huge numbers, in ways that Felix Da Housecat, for example, cannot. However Ibiza Calling, which is another party very popular with foreigners, contains a high volume of drinkers, even if the total footfall isn't as great.
What's most challenging about your job?
Having to deal with people who have had too much too drink. You try and tell them that they can go and receive help and that they'll be looked after and made to sober up but people don't listen. Having to repeatedly tell people the same things gets tiring. Sometimes people refuse to pay, which can get a little conflictive and nerve-wracking if they're being aggressive. You get the odd fake banknote as well. But by far the worst is interacting with the overly inebriated. They're just too involved in their own world to pay any attention.
What do you like the most about what you do?
I love what I learn about people. I believe all bartenders are part-psychologists, simply from observing their customers. You get to see the way people react to certain situations and their attitudes to things. You get to understand humans a bit better. I also enjoy conversing with so many random people and building relationships with regulars. I've got people all around the world that come straight to my bar whenever they're in Ibiza. When there's a great DJ playing that can be fun. On the flip side, when you hate the music, there's nothing worse. That, and the fact that I can do my job anywhere in the world.
How much money, more or less, can your bar at Space take in one night?
It varies a lot. As you know, every night at every club on the island is totally different. You can come to Space on a Tuesday and then again on Thursday and think you're in a different place. Every night attracts a different crowd, some who spend some who don't. During busier parties, the bar might take two or three times what it would on quieter nights.
Finally, I'm thirsty and out of cash. What's the best way to go about getting a free drink?
In Ibiza it's a little complicated. You have to be funny and make me laugh. Never try and chat me up, that never works. A well-timed compliment can also go a very long way. You have to make me smile, essentially. I'm telling you though, it's not easy!
This week on the island
Performing topless to a packed seal pit, the Dutch innovator worked his way through an hour of rugged, acid-tinged house and techno. Flicking between his guitar, a microphone and his laptop, his live set-up lent his tracks a real rough, spontaneous feel, cultivating a palpable energy in the mini-arena. This is where the magic of Zoo lies: in bringing cutting-edge sounds to the attention of a crowd that, for the most part, are simply here to party. If you think about the way the rest of Ibiza works—depending on household names to build their fanbase—it makes for a refreshing change.
Music-wise, the main attraction was 2ManyDJs. Performing in their signature white suits, they worked the charged crowd with plenty of classic edits, from “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood to Lil' Louis' "French Kiss." The Belgian duo are possibly the only act for whom mid-'00s electro still forms the basis of their sound, and while their remix of MGMT's “Kids” ought to be put to bed, they pull it off. At one point, as if to remind the crowd of their continued relevance, they dropped Matias Aguayo's “El Sucu Tucu." which worked well. And, as with every Elrow, the music was only one part of the fun. As the confetti rained down for the nth time that evening, everyone looked more than happy for the blend of party records and springy techno to keep on rolling.
In what was a nice touch, Cox, (or at least his team), spent a reported €700 on fancy dress, meaning all manner of balloons and streamers adorned the comfortably busy Terrace. Looking fetching in a policeman's hat, Cox stuck to strong, groovy house, placing real emphasis on the force of the basslines. Playing for an extra 90s minutes in Tania Vulcano's absence, a rendition of Washerman's “Basement Chord” nearly took the roof off, only to be bettered moments later by Tom Trago's “Use Me." Spinning for a total of five-and-a-half hours, this was one of the sets of the season. Musically spot-on and as happy and infectious a character as ever, Cox showed the underground elite just why he's billed as the best in the business.
The Zoo Project - Igor Rubnik
Used + Abused - Roberto Castaño
Cocoon - Phrank.net
All others - Tasya Menaker