Tall Mountains EP Design

A few months ago, the supremely talented folk/pop musician Sydney Yeo a.k.a. Tall Mountains asked me to design the bifold and CD for her debut EP, which was released on November 8, 2012. Once I listened to her music, I knew I had to take on the project and that I would regret it if I didn’t (she cites Bon Iver, one of my personal favourites, as a major influence). To date, I’ve probably listened to the 5 tracks on her EP more than 20 times, which is a lot for someone who likes spending a lot of time in relative silence.

I’ve not done much design work in a professional capacity, but I can say that Sydney was great to work with. One always appreciates a client that not only knows what he/she wants, but also has the taste level to back it up. I caught on to her aesthetic preferences very quickly, which made the whole process surprisingly smooth-sailing. The first thing that really saved me a lot of pain was that she already had an image prepared:

Photography by Seumas Yeo

Photograph by Seumas Yeo

I always find it much easier to have an image because it provides me with a direction in which to travel. It’s half the battle won is you’re already set on the main artwork. For our first meeting, I did really quick mock-ups on Illustrator just to give her an idea of what was in my head.

mockups

Sydney stipulated that she wanted a hand-drawn aesthetic, so I came up with the following by tracing over the image:

If we had had a big enough budget to work with, I think something like this would have looked amazing as silver foil embossed on a grey paper.

If we had had a big enough budget to work with, I think something like this would have looked amazing as silver foil embossed on a grey paper.

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This got too detailed and overwhelming and I had to approach the final artwork with a completely different “system” of contouring.

She preferred the latter style, so I reworked it to make it much more varied and balanced between the busy linearities and negative space. I also had to extend the image a little, just so I had more to work with compositionally.

tallmountainsartworkblogI also worked on a hand-drawn version of her stage name for the cover, and gave her a few options for subtle fonts to be used for track listings and credits.

tall mountains logo 1

Tried using a handwriting-esque font but it didn’t work at all, so I wrote it instead.

The assortment of fonts that I selected for Sydney to look at.

The assortment of fonts that I selected for Sydney to look at. She chose option F.

We then decided to work with a black/blue/grey colour scheme based on the palette of the original photograph, so I integrated a gradient into the original line drawing. The image lent itself really well to a wraparound design:

Album [Front and Back]

For the inside of the CD, I experimented with a couple of photos that she supplied of herself, but ended up with a few unfortunate experiments with an image that dominated the inside of the bifold.

A far too domineering composition with a strangely positioned tissue box was quickly eliminated.

A far too domineering composition with a strangely positioned tissue box was quickly eliminated.

We decided to go with a more ‘mysterious’ image of her at a smaller scale. I included a hand-drawn frame with a gradient to mirror the external design. Sydney chose to handwrite her acknowledgments for some intimacy, but I preserved the font that I had used for the track listing.

Screen shot 2013-01-02 at PM 04.07.34

Ultimately, my favourite part of the whole package is the CD design. I think the image works really well with a very simple blue-and-white colour scheme.

Template

The options we considered (the blue and white one is a clear winner, I sort of just did the rest to show how awesome it is in comparison).

Finally, the finished product:

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Here’s a little SoundCloud widget to stream her amazing EP. If you like her music, please do support her by purchasing digital or physical copies of her EP on her BandCamp site!

P.S. My friend Zixin (whom I blogged about in my previous post) did an interview with Sydney on Other Sounds, which you can read HERE.

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3 comments

  1. Zixin

    Hehe thanks for the shout out! Also, gorgeous work as always 🙂

  2. It’s always nice to read about the process of how a finished product got made. Love the design btw!! Do more commercial work, Berny, join the dark side…

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