By Dominic Ayre RGD, Creative Director at Hambly & Woolley
The alchemy between design and music runs deep. For many decades, the visualization of music on LP covers, videos, cassette inserts, concert tees and CD jewel cases have been the ways that music is represented.
With the rise of file exchange and streaming services, music has had to find new ways to make money as well as visually represent itself. As merchandise and touring have become the main income source for musicians and producers, there has been a noticeable concentration on the experience. Whether that is related to location or physical touch points, design continues to play a role as designers find ways to shape the look and feel of the things we love.
The design work being developed for musicians, from releases to spaces, ranges from minimal to raw, brutalist to ornamental. It can sometimes be polarizing but always with impact.
Here are 5 designers (and 5 music projects) that have over the last couple of years really grabbed my attention.
As a fan of ex-pat musician Caribou, I came across the work of Jane Eastlight when she designed his aka Daphni. The pattern designs, collage work and minimal direction of her video work was super refreshing. I also found her collaboration with the band Patten a great overview of what happens when a designer gets to touch everything.
Arguably the most well-known name on this list, David Rudnick is an inspiring designer who focuses on custom typography for his work. A graduate of Yale School of Design, David has worked closely with the producer of Oneohtrix Point Never for a few years and the results are magical (and a bit terrifying). The album cover for Oneohtrix Point Never's Age Of is a melting pot of atmospheric 70's style photography and maniacal art nouveau style typeforms. David Rudnick also created illustrations and typography for the crazily dark visions in the video for Oneohtrix Point Never's Black Snow.
This is less a singular object than a collection of very impressive covers. Bad Studio's work is, simply put, exciting. With a mixture of brutalist typography, default colour palettes and naive looking photography the work that Braulio Amado has been producing for the last few years is amazing. Covers from Roisin Murphy, Washed Out and more are essentially pieces of art.
TSTO & Schick Toikka
My cousin, who lives in Helsinki, has been to the Flow Festival a few times. Each time, I ask him to get me any of the posters, flyers, etc. for the festival, he forgets. The Flow Festival is one the biggest music festivals in northern Europe and the design is always amazing. For a few years, TSTO had designed the visual branding but stepped away. They returned last year and created one of my favourite design systems ever. Working with Schick Toikka to develop a custom typeface, the awkwardness and vibrancy of the repeating letterforms matches the energy of the acts on stage. To me this caught an energy that built massive amounts of FOMO and anger toward my cousin.