Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Process Behind: The War Within

(Above: The final cover. Click to enlarge.)

While new designs are being created (but not yet finalized), I dug through the archives to – for the first time ever – compile and post the "process" behind one of my favorite album cover projects, Shadows Fall's The War Within.

Prior to this album, I had both signed the band and created the artwork for their first Century Media album, Of One Blood. This time around, I worked exclusively with singer Brian Fair – having him send me both the lyrics and his thoughts on the album followed by my diving into both naming the record and conceptualizing the visuals for it. I recall that we originally agreed upon another title I had suggested but, due to a band (whose name I can't recall for the life of me) coincidentally announcing their upcoming release of the same name, we moved towards The War Within.

The idea for The War Within turned to one man – any man, mind you – and the chaos and beauty that surrounds each of us here on earth. Birth, death, love, hate, riots, pollution, power, religion, nature, corruption of the mind, the soul, and so on. By simply living, we are open and susceptible to them all – to confront each of them, from within.

(Above: The process of building the cover's box. Click to enlarge.)

I wanted to create this without the help of the computer and without looking like every other metal album cover in that era. The first idea that struck me was to create a box that would be hung by screw eyes and metal wire, photographed, and then compiled into a cover design. Beyond that, I grabbed public images that reflected the forces of the world around us, selected a couple key photographs from my archives, dug up some found objects, and – most importantly – bought an antique Topp Cola soda crate to house everything in.

I spray painted the interior crate black, wet tinted the background imagery for an aged look, compiled the central imagery, mounted them on the backs of broken row dividers from the crate, and sent it off to Justin Borucki to be photographed in macro detail (back cover, interiors) as well as in full (front cover).

Released September 21, 2004, and reaching #20 on the Billboard charts, The War Within sold over 350,000 copies for Century Media – then the label's best seller ever and three times as many as the band's previous release. They also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance for this album. To this day, The War Within remains one of the great albums from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement of the 2000s and I'm proud to say I played a part in it.

(Above: Detail photography by Justin Borucki. Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When In Rome…

(click image to enlarge)

While I lived in Los Angeles for 7 years, I foolishly never stopped by the former Neutra offices on Glendale Blvd. in Silver Lake. However, I made sure to stop by when we were visiting the City of Angels last week. I wonder if the building is still on the market? Seriously, I need to win Mega Millions ASAP. And by "win", I mean actually play! Speaking of spending some quality cash viewing some superior architecture in LA, go here.

Overall, the trip out west was filled with great friends, excellent food, old (and new) haunts, clients, and Joshua Tree. Great stuff, to say the least. For select images from my trip, I'll be posting them on my Tumblr page as the days and weeks pass. And now I'm back home, working on freelance projects, and getting back to business for the summer.

(Note: Bottom photo by Jennifer Martin.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good Cover, Bad Cover

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This is what classic, balanced, and yet challenging typography can do over top (pun intended) the right imagery. If only I had more opportunities to work with indie bands who allow for such minimalism, right? Anyway, this is utterly gorgeous and striking on all levels. Love it. And while I heard this image was used in Cosmopolitan for an article titled "Is This The Most Satisfying Sex Position" (and no, I'm not kidding), I'm still a big fan. Just be careful what you license art directors and designers, is all.

(click image to enlarge)

I'm sure the rabid Radiohead fanbase will cry foul at my labeling this as "bad" but… well, it just plain is. In fact, it's the worst artwork featured on any Radiohead, or Radiohead-related, album or single since the regretful 1993 Pablo Honey album itself. While art, like music, is subjective – whoever might claim this as good is simply exercising their right to be wrong.

(click image to enlarge)

Like hipsters walking around in Iron Maiden shirts, believing their pseudo-love of metal and hard rock to be as painfully ironic as their headbands and mustaches, this cover is a joke that has no laugh track. Even for someone like Lady Gaga who's far more relevant to ridiculous dresses than great music, I hope this is simply a bad April Fool's joke or something.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All Quiet (On The Surface)

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It may be quiet these days on the blog, and I sincerely apologize for that, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been very busy working on several projects that will see the light in both 2011 and 2012. In fact, between the final days of the spring semester's classes, the mighty, year-end faculty vs. student softball grudge match, and freelance projects in the book, CD, logo, and marketing/promotion realms – it's been an extremely busy season so far.

More to come from these projects as they mature throughout the year, for sure. In the meantime, here's an inspiring video I found whilst researching materials for inclusion in my Typography 1 syllabus this coming Fall. Enjoy!