Steven Harrington

I'm an artist and designer living and working in Los Angeles California.

The Legendary Work of Jamaican Illustrator Wilfred Limonious

Words:
Mandy Wong

In Fine Style is the first book to explore the illustrative work of legendary Jamaican artist Wilfred Limonious. Known as the Father of Dancehall Art, Limonious is responsible for numerous album designs and illustrations that represent years worth of music and an entire lineage of people. Born in 1949 near Albert Town, Trelawny parish, a rural area of in northwest Jamaica. Wilfred’s professional career began in 1970 when Jamaican newspaper, The Star, ran his single-frame cartoons in its “Laugh With Us” section which gave local artists the chance to be published alongside established international cartoonists. Limonious went on to create a number of comics for the Jamaican newspapers, making a name for himself as a cartoonist on the island.

On returning back to Jamaica in the early 1980sm Wilfred took note of a new musical movement that had taken hold of Jamaica know now widely as dancehall. Limonious was then presented with an opportunity to illustrate the LP jacket for performer Jah Thomas’ Shoulder Move LP, which came out on Thomas’ own label, Midnight Rock, in 1983.  The cover featured a photograph on the front overlaid with some hand-drawn text by Limonious, plus an accompanying cartoon illustration on the back. At the time, Limonious style and aesthetic was something completely fresh and new, and in no time, producers began requesting Limonious create their sleeves.

Known for both his unmatched style and speed, it wasn’t rare for Limonious to complete entire album jacket illustrations in less than a day.

Vibrant, humorous and unique, Limonious’ illustrations went on to cover some of Jamaica’s most prominent cultural records. He developed a knack for creating typography, and produced distinctive hand-drawn typefaces, including a cursive face with segments taken out as seen on albums such as Early B’s Four Wheel No Real and Sugar Minott’s Buy Off The Bar. Known for both his unmatched style and speed, it wasn’t rare for Limonious to complete entire album jacket illustrations in less than a day. This, combined with the high demand for his capabilities meant that Limonious produced a very large body of work – close to 300 album covers, if not more.

While Limonious has since passed, his iconic work lives on through the music of Jamaica and the illustrations her created to encompass its unrivaled vibes. In Fine Style by Christopher Bateman and Al Newman is out now. The official launch will take place at London’s Rough Trade East on September 1. For an in-depth look at the life of Wilfred Limonious, refer to Its Nice That.

Steven Harrington

I'm an artist and designer living and working in Los Angeles California.