This week, Tyler, the Creator announced his fifth studio album, IGOR, by unveiling two pieces of artwork.
One of the images he shared on Monday afternoon was an abstract portrait of Tyler, drawn by Lewis Rossignol. The 39-year-old illustrator tells Complex that his collaborative relationship with Tyler began six months ago via an Instagram DM.
“That’s pretty much how everybody finds my work,” Rossignol says. “Instagram drives probably 95% of my business. When he first messaged me, he said he was interested in collaborating, but he wasn't really that specific.”
Rossignol remembers Tyler referring to his work as “hard and dirty” and complimenting the artist on his raw, sketch-driven style. “I like to work with charcoal and I work really loosely,” Rossignol says of his creative approach. “I like to draw stream of consciousness, and as free as possible. I always viewed sketching as the finished piece itself. I like to keep things almost unfinished in a way.”
After the initial DMs, Rossignol’s communication with Tyler slowed—until three weeks ago.
“If you look at the piece, in the jacket, there are some notes that Tyler actually wrote. And then in the top there's some little stars that he drew.” - Lewis Rossignol
“He FaceTimed me and said he really wanted me to do a portrait of him,” Rossignol says, pointing out that Tyler was closely involved in the image’s creation. “He was really easy to work with. He's a creative, so he understands the process, and he gave good notes. In the last week or two, we were constantly texting back and forth, and I was showing him different version and colors that we could use.”
Although the piece was created by Rossignol, some of Tyler’s sketches made it into the final image, as well. “If you look at the piece, in the jacket, there are some notes that Tyler actually wrote,” Rossignol reveals. “And then in the top there's some little stars that he drew. He actually sent me some stuff from his sketchbook. He said, ‘If you want to work this into the piece, you can, but you don't have to.’ So some of the stuff in the piece is actually Tyler.”
While the two had been in communication for months, Rossignol says he didn’t find out that his work would be used as cover artwork for IGOR until three days before it was unveiled to the rest of the world.
Reflecting on the experience of working so closely with Tyler, Rossignol says, “It's cool to look at the piece and know how much of a collaboration it was, because of how much input he had in it. Almost all of the [other] work I do is all me.” He adds, “I'm doing my own drawings for myself, and everything I put up is 100% me. Whereas I feel like this is more 70-30, where Tyler really gave me a lot of great suggestions. I get a different feeling from this than any of my other work because I can see somebody else's thoughts through it. It's an interesting feeling. Obviously, I'm a big fan of Tyler's. So it's surreal to know that Tyler had a big hand in the piece.”
Of course, Tyler wasn’t content to introduce a new album with just a single image. He also shared another cover image [above] and two teaser videos, all of which were created with his longtime collaborator, Luis “Pancho” Perez.
Describing his background, Perez tells Complex over email, “[I was] born and raised on St Croix USVI with a slightly lazy eye lol. I've been involved with art since I can remember later amplified when I moved to the states where I finished high school and later college. I worked as a photographer doing publicity for different labels and BTS for Hype Williams in the 90's. In my current capacity as director of photography, I work on music videos, commercials, as well as television and movies.”
Perez, who has been working with Tyler for nearly a decade, has credits on videos like “Yonkers,” “She,” “Okra,” “Tamale,” “Perfect,” and “See You Again.”
“[Tyler] is a true artist in every sense of the word. People get everything wrong.” - LUIS PEREZ
Discussing his collaborative relationship with Tyler, Perez points out, “We work well together because I believe in what he wants to create, and part of any collaboration is to trust each other in the journey.” He adds, “Nothing has really changed his confidence in himself. And what he wants the world to see is as strong as our first time together on set. It’s a rarity to see an artist whose evolution continues to inspire.”
As fans await the May 17 release date of IGOR, Perez is careful to avoid revealing deeper meanings and intentions behind the visuals, explaining, “That's for the world to discover and experience. No spoilers.” Asked for his favorite story from the set of the teaser videos, Perez doubles down: “hahahahaha no comment.”
So it seems we’ll have to wait until next week for all the details behind the IGOR visual experience. In the meantime, Perez leaves fans with a parting note about his longtime collaborator: “[Tyler] is a true artist in every sense of the word. People get everything wrong.”