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