Next time you look at a piece of album art, consider the following: designers often go through hundreds of variations on even the most simple of designs in order to achieve the perfect harmony of graphic color, typography, and composition. Perhaps then, it goes without saying that the basics taught in design school for years still hold true today, and our Steve Wilson is no stranger to this painstaking, but rewarding development. He shared with us some of his process work for the band, Panama Wedding, from start to finish.
Can you tell us a little about the starting point of making these variations? Do you begin by hand or work exclusively in digital?
I worked exclusively digitally in this series. As we were aiming for something bold and graphic I found it easier on this particular project to go straight in and create the shapes digitally. The lead singer Peter Kirk initially referenced quite a lot of old covers and posters so we created a bit of a mood board.
Another thing I took from the mood board was the pattern and repetition of shape in the Police and Penguin Prison covers. I sent a lot of visuals to begin with as I wanted to gauge what kind of thing he felt drawn to. Early on, the work was much busier but it evolved slowly until we had refined it. The first single, “All of the People”, uses a limited palette, pattern, petition of shape and a design simplicity that can be traced back to the mood board. It felt like we had successfully combined the things he liked into something that had a character of its own. Once that first design was complete, the tone was set and the other releases were easy to execute. From the start, we discussed creating artwork that had a visual connection across all of the releases to they would be instantly recognisable as Panama Wedding artwork. It was decided that the face profile that we had used in the first single, “All of the People”, would feature across all of the main artwork but used in different ways to represent the title of each release. For example, the face profile is used multiple times as part of an abstract globe illustration, whereas the parallel play execution the face profile was repeated to create parallel lines.
In all of the best examples of album artwork that I have worked on it’s been a collaborative process. This was certainly the case with Panama Wedding. It is why I enjoy music jobs so much, when things go well with them you are working with another creative who also want to input ideas and so you are often pushed in directions you might not normally go and that can be exciting.
The final artwork can be seen below: