Artist Interview: Brandon Woodle and Guitar Mania

Not too long ago I saw finished pictures of “Forward” the Guitar Mania piece by Brandon Woodle and Mike Discenzo of Hyland Software. I was impressed by the design, and more so think there’s a message about the current evolution we see in music behind the piece . Check out the following interview to learn more about one of the designers of this intriguing piece:


Interview With Brandon Woodle

1. How did you happen to become a designer of one of the guitars for “Guitar Mania”?

My company, Hyland Software, has been involved with Guitar Mania since it’s inception. Typically we’ve been one of the companyies to purchase guitars once they’ve completed the tour. This year our CEO was approached by United Way to sponsor a guitar and choose its designer. Since I had done restoration work on some of the other guitars we’ve purchased it naturally fell on me to take the lead.

2. What was your inspiration?

Tying the ideals behind Hyland Software’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, OnBase, and how it can be/is being applied in the music industry. Simply put, OnBase manages large-scale amounts of paper documentation by providing a single repository and interface in which to digitally access said documents. Music is going through this same digital revolution where physical copies are being less and less favored by society in turn for digital downloads and file-sharing. I wanted to show this big sweeping transition from paper/tangible media to the digital/binary media which ever-growing amounts of people access from a computer.

3. When did you begin your work

*chuckles* Ideas and such had been thrown around for a couple weeks or so before the due date…actual fabrication didn’t start until about 3 days prior to the deadline. We were backed up with other projects and couldn’t get around to this until late. However for those three days (and nights) I focused on nothing but the guitar, giving it all the time and attention that was necessary for a project of this scale.

4. Please describe any of the processes you went through in the creation of your guitar.

Naturally there were some brainstorming sessions on what message to convey and how to convey that in a relatively simplistic manner. You had to take the fact that the piece was going to be sitting outside and traveling around the country into consideration. The guitar had to stand up to a lot of unknowns and I didn’t want the artwork or experience to suffer because of that. I created some rough comps in Photoshop which were narrowed down to a final piece. After which the final comp had to be sent off to United Way for approval by their Guitar Committee before I could begin construction. The paper at the bottom is actually over-sized pieces of PVC plastic which had to be blow-torched to flex and bend like a piece of paper. Those were then screwed into the guitar and the screw-heads were covered in plaster to hide them. The large binary was stencil-spray-painted on for a blurred/glowing look while the smaller binary are cut-out pieces of vinyl which are very crisp offering a nice contrast. The monitor was hollowed out and the glass was replaced with plexi-glass where upon a hole was gouged in it to allow for the guitar fret-board to flow through.

5. Did you collaborate with anyone else on this project?

Mike Discenzo is the Creative Director for Hyland and was the main contributor of the idea of what we were going to convey. I fine tuned his ideas and brought it to life in visual form.

6. Is there any special message behind the design of your guitar?

While I don’t think there’s a “message” behind the design there are several real-world intricacies woven through. The paper at the bottom is comprised of many different types of documents. Included in which is sheet-music, artist contracts, lyric-sheets and the most important of all: court documentation from several high profile cases involving RIAA and file-sharing companies such as Napster, Soulseek etc. All of these documents were found online via public record – just another nod towards accessing things digitally. The monitor at the top reflects major computer corporations (specifically Microsoft’s open-field desktop image) sparking the desire/ability to access all these things virtually.

7. How does it feel to have worked on a piece for guitar mania when famous people such as Liv Tyler and Flea have created one as well?

It’s definitely cool to be placed alongside names such as those, although I think the true honor is just being a part of the overall program. Watching people walk by in amazement and hearing their comments

8. What about this project did you find most challenging? Most exciting? Easy?

Finding materials and means in which to convey my message and still hold up to the test of weather and travel was definitely the hardest. There were so many pieces that had to be attached to the guitar I didn’t want any of them falling off or wearing away in the hustle and bustle. Just knowing that I was working on something that was going to be publicly displayed around the city and country was definitely the most exciting.

9. How does it feel to know that your guitar may someday be proudly displayed in someone’s foyer? What kind of person would you
love to have your guitar?

Ha, if by “someone’s” you mean “Hyland’s” it’s a pretty cool feeling. Hyland has already expressed interest in re-purchasing the guitar once the tour is complete. It’s always nice knowing that work you’ve done will go on public display and stay there until it rots. I think it’s cooler that the guitar will be placed somewhere that it actually fits into the context of everyday life around Hyland.

10. What are you most proud of about your guitar?

That it stands out. When the guitar had to be returned for stringing/lacquering, I got a chance to run around and look at the others that had already come back. It’s a unique idea and the follow through in bringing it to life was done well. There hasn’t been a guitar to poke at the issues in the music industry, the technological evolution going on, and how that technology is trying to be worked into the music-industry for the better. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing… 😉