Posts Tagged ‘Design Inspiration’

Design Inspiration: Rob Carmichael [SEEN Studios]

I’ve got another great entry to the Design Inspiration series this week (if I do say so myself). If you’ve been even a tangential fan of indie rock over the past ten years, there’s a good chance that you’ve run into covers from Rob Carmichael aka SEEN Studios. From the iconic cover of Animal Collective’s Merrieweather Post Pavilion to career defining works for Panda Bear, Dirty Projectors, Dan Deacon, Born Ruffians, Beirut, The War on Drugs, Cloud Nothings, and Real Estate – Rob’s been shaping the look of indie as much as any designer in the field. As usual with this series, I asked him to name five of his favorite record covers of all time and to delve into how those covers have influenced his own works. Check his picks below and catch up with Rob’s work over at SEEN.

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Design Inspiration: Aaron Lowell Denton

This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite features at Raven – a chance to hash out the formative touchstones that have given designers their outlook and approach. So far I’ve had designers with a longer foothold on the game, but now I’m glad to throw a spotlight on a newer name that has fast become a go-to for indie names looking for a classic touch. Aaron Lowell Denton’s been most noted for his posters and its easy to see why. His designs rely heavily on bold type and perfectly washed colors set into nostalgic forms that are hard to pin down, but tend to evoke an instant kinship with the piece. As he’s tipped more and more into album covers he’s racked up designs for EZTV, Bonny Doon, Neon Indian, and Wild Nothing among others. I asked Aaron to reach back for his top five covers and give a little background on why they’re the ones that stick out, and how they’ve helped shape his own approach to cover design.

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Design Inspiration: Chris Reeder

There have been plenty of touchstone labels around here, but I’d wager to say that Rocket Recordings is up there in the top ten that get referenced on the site. Their take on psych and metal is always interesting and always quality, but aside from just digging up some of the best band, the label also embraces a spotless design aesthetic that I’ve always been attracted to. This comes largely in part from label heads Chris Reeder and John O’Carroll, who both contribute sleeves to their stable of releases. Design in psych and metal can either be transcendent (see Design Inspiration: Arik Roper) or drag the releases into parody. Reeder and O’Carroll fall squarely in the former camp, elevating their releases to art pieces visually as well as aurally.

Reeder and O’Carroll both agreed to contribute picks to Design Inspiration, but I’ll focus first on Chris Reeder. His sleeves have a clean design that’s crisp and classic at the same time, rendering them iconic each time. If you’re familiar with the output of Goat, GNOD, Lay Llamlas, Pigs x 7 and Hey Colossus, then you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Chris dives into five of his all time favorites, but leaves the caveat: “It is really hard to pick only 5 sleeves as so many have meant so much over the years, but on the day I wrote this piece these are the 5 that I wanted to talk about.”

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Design Inspiration: Arik Roper

I mentioned before that I’m thrilled to get this feature back in motion and I can assure you there are some great entries on the schedule already. One such legend of the sleeve that inspired this series is Arik Roper. His sleeves are a high water mark for doom and metal and there are few today working in the field who muster the same kind of iconic connection between sleeve and album that Arik can. Like Roger Dean or Marcus Keef before him, his sleeves feel like the music contained within. Without even hearing a note, there’s a sense of how heavy, how dense and how life changing the music he’s designed for will be. In that regard, its great to have him sit down and catalog a few of the artists that helped him find his own vision.

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Design Inspiration: Darryl Norsen

I’m excited to get back to a feature here at the site that takes a closer look at the designers behind the album art that adorns so many of my recent favorites. As much as any other part of the full album experience, good art draws a listener in and cinches the argument on owning the physical package. In the past this series has explored works from Robert Beatty, Jason Galea, and El Praraiso’s Jakob Skøtt. This week I’m shining a light on Darryl Norsen. You’ve most likely encountered Norsen’s work on excellent show posters, or in graphics for Raven contemporaries Aquarium Drunkard’s Talk House and Laginnappe series. Those of you winding down the extended path of Dead reissues would likely also have seen his work in recent Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders reissues and 75th Birthday materials. Norsen’s crisp type work and clean lines have also found their way into excellent albums from Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Three Lobed and No Quarter Records. As usual with this series, I asked Darryl to explore his own favorite sleeves and recount how they may have shaped his own approach to design.

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Design Inspiration: Jakob Skøtt

For the third installment of the site’s Design Inspiration series, I’m focusing on Jakob Skøtt, who wears triple hats at the excellent Danish label, El Paraiso Records. Skøtt is co-owner, member of the band Causa Sui and chief designer of the label’s aesthetic. That aesthetic struck me immediately as being one of the most cohesive and attractive since Sacred Bones took up arms 10 years ago. Like SB, the label hearkens back to the idea of library sleeves or serialized jazz, tying their catalog together through crisp typography and the faded hues of Skøtt’s paintings. There are very few labels that I stumble upon and immediately want to buy wholesale on sleeve art alone but El Paraiso makes the case for buying blind and assuming a quality product. Below are Jakob’s picks for his five favorite album covers.

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Design Inspiration: Jason Galea

This is the second installment of RSTB’s look at the influences that drive the designers behind some of my favorite album covers. Stepping up to the spotlight, Jason Galea opens up about some favorite album covers that have influenced his style. Jason is the designer behind pretty much anything visual that’s connected to Aussie psych warriors King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, plus The Murlocs and the Tame Impala side-project Gum. Galea has also done all of the band’s insane video work and kicked in on a few great Aussie garage comps including the Nuggets comp compiled by Lenny Kaye. The first thing that drew me into King Gizz back when 12 Bar Bruise came out was the artwork, and the triple gatefold on Oddments ranks among my own favorite covers. Its truly using the LP format to its full potential. Below are Jason’s picks that span some recent garage gems and and plenty of psych oddities.

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Design Inspiration: Robert Beatty

Another new feature at RSTB begins today, this one taking a look at designers that have proven above and beyond the average sleeve jockey. Sleeve art has always proven to be more than just decorative dressing for an album, oftentimes it can be as integral and inseparable from an album as any song gracing the sides. And while they say you can’t judge a book (or album) by its cover, we often do just that, so designers can act as the gatekeepers of taste. Of recent designers, I can think of few that have been proving more of an inspiration to psychedelic savants than Robert Beatty. His style evokes classic silkscreen techniques and custom painted vans from the ’70s. He’s got an eye for the surreal and a feel for color that’s made him a favorite of everyone from Real Estate and Thee Oh Sees to Oneohtrix Point Never, culminating in his most famous run last year on Tame Impala’s Currents and its surrounding singles. In this new series, I’ve asked designers to go pick the works that inspire them, choosing five of their favorite album covers and explaining how they’ve influenced their style. Robert’s picks are below, spanning from Tropicalia to a collab between Stereolab and The High Llamas, each one peeling back a layer of Beatty’s iconic style.

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