The story behind John Baizley's Jane Doe artwork

Jane Live artwork

Last year at Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Netherlands, hardcore heroes Converge performed their landmark album Jane Doe in its entirety. 45 minutes of savagery and emotion from a band that have since reached iconic status in the world of heavy music, and an album that sounds just as brutal and painful as it did upon its release in 2001. To mark the occasion, Converge’s Roadburn set was recorded and released earlier this year as Jane Live.

The original album sleeve is arguably just as famous as the music it represents, adorning countless t-shirts, hoodies and patch jackets at every gig or festival you care to mention. It’s basically the Misfits skull for a different generation. But for Jane Live, Converge enlisted a number of different artists to recreate the ghost-like face for variant covers, including Baroness frontman John Baizley.

John is no stranger to illustrating album covers, having designed not only Baroness sleeves but Kvelertak, Darkest Hour and Skeletonwitch. And as a friend of Converge frontman Jacob Bannon, he’s now added another beloved band to his resume.

“I had been doing some work for (Bannon’s record label) Deathwish over the past couple of years,” John tells Metal Hammer. “I did the re-release of Cursed’s Architects Of Troubled Sleep album and the re-release of the Coliseum record. Jake and I have a personal relationship, we’ve toured together, and Converge have been a really important band to me. When he came up with the idea to do Jane Doe live in the way that they did with multiple artists, I was really excited to get that call.”

But how did John come up with his idea? Straying quite far from the original piece.

“What I wanted to do was a pretty simple idea – take two elements of his artwork and do the exact opposite. The greatest thing about the cover is how monochromatic it is, so I made it super-colourful. And where the intention of Jane Doe itself is to have some kind of anonymity, I made a very distinctive portrait of somebody, and in doing so I changed the two most critical elements of Jake’s artwork. I didn’t want to try to match that or do some alternate version, I’d rather do my own thing and make a recognisable album cover that paid respect to that album and the importance of it.”

Jane Live is out now, via Converge Cult.

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