Monday, March 22
Part 1: Methods. Construction One Year.
Over a year ago Jamie Johnson approached me with with a project that he said was the 'best thing he'd ever worked on'. Of course I was interested, especially after we'd worked on Maps together, and after meeting Justin from White Belt Yellow Tag I was onboard.
This was a major campaign on a big label, and I wanted it to be the best, most integrated, intelligent piece of work I'd done. I wanted the single artwork to build into an explosion of album artwork, that continually developed a theme, revealing itself once you'd seen every piece of work.
Methods – Origins.
The band's brief was simple, they wanted 'Unknown Pleasures in white', difficult one right?
Here's the design notes that accompanied the above illustration that I sent back to the band in a attempt to drive them in a new direction;
LORENZO, BOSE and KEPLER.
As a starting point I was directed to ‘Unknown Pleasures’. Showing the death of a star, isolated on a black background, and resized to an underproportioned canvas, it gives omits a coldness and desperation found in the music. (To simply do ‘Unknow Pleasures’ in white, isn’t possible, the black gives it, it’s hostility, without that we’re in dangerous ‘Coldplay’ terrority.)
Having listened to WBYT I don’t get the same stark vibe, there’s a warmth and a soul to the music that underpins its depth.
So to reflect the brief I’ve gone back to what made Unknown Pleasures an iconic piece of work and applied similar principles to this artwork.
My focus was on your title ‘Ode To Nothingness’. From here I researched the dissolution of atoms (see left). I found numerous graphs, charts, illustrations and theories all about what happens to atoms and particles when they disintegrate, From these I extracted the parts that interested me and evolved them into striking pieces of art.
Over the next few pages you’ll find different applications, that vear away from the original brief and skirt dangerously close to it. These are rough sketches and rendered ideas, they can be a starting point for discussions or the final piece of work.
Once new thinking was agreed, I began work on the singles, these 3 covers formed the first steps of the campaign, mapping atomic paths based on scientific diagrams these were;
Tell Your Friends
Always and Echoes
They had a distinct style, and while being amongst the best work I'd ever produced, visually they were very familiar to me, using similar techniques to my Maps and Slipstream work. When it came time to start work on the album I wanted to develop something that tied all the singles together and had a radically different look and feel to anything I'd ever done before.
So from various shared start points; English art, the idea of atomic star maps and the sound of the Methods album I created a piece of work, based on the idea of 'being lost', a multi-textured illustration that conveyed the themes of the songs, carried the message of the single artwork and was the most original piece of artwork I'd ever created.
Many different layers were used to build-up the cover image, inverted clouds, light spots, ice textures, NASA photography and grunge textures were layered and blended for weeks until the finished result looked as it does. Lucky for me, when it came time to present this to the band, everyone loved it from Jinky to the label. Now the challenge for me was to show how this tied back into the singles...
Star-maps – The Missing Link
The story so far had shown a series of atomic paths, then, seemed to jump to a ship lost in a snowstorm. The challenge now was to use the album booklet to demonstrate how the two things related to one another, and the answer to this was to create navigational star-maps out of the atomic paths of the singles.
These maps were the answer to the question theoretically posed by the cover and they also solved the brief, giving me a linear story that ran through each piece of artwork.
Now everything made sense in my head, if the album was the ship lost in the snowstorm, then the singles were the stars guiding it home, ambitious? Sure, but everything had to fit together if this was going to be the best piece of campaign work I've ever done.
Finally, a safe port
The last piece of the puzzle was the back cover. I felt it was important resolve the whole story, so, the ship had to be safe. The back cover shows the ship in safer waters, guided by the stars.
The project so far has been very well received and art work has been developed for Underground advertising in London as well as adverts for all the major music publications, so hopefully you should all be seeing a live copy soon.
I've really enjoyed working on this release, the band, and their manager Jamie have been very open to ideas and it's been a real pleasure to develop them, plus, credit has to go to Gideon at Distiller Records, who has entrusted alot of the thinking to me, and let us all create something we're all very proud of.
White Belt Yellow Tags album Methods is out 5th April and available here