I’ve got a lot to blather about this week, so I’m skipping my traditional ridiculous intro with my invisible friend. We’ll hear all about his depths of stupidity again next week…
So, y’all know what I do by now. I work with bands and do a lot of album art for awesome folks. But, I’m particularly stoked about this week’s images! I got to work with a good friend and INCREDIBLE artist, Gregory Alan Isakov on his new record with the Colorado Symphony. Have you heard it yet? Seriously, go hear it. I’ve had it for a few months now and it still gives me goosebumps every time I listen. Absolutely incredible.
I’m breaking protocol on my ol’ blog here today. Usually, I tell you a funny story or something that happened or show you how I made stuff. This round, I’m just going to show y’all a few different versions of everything we came up with along the way with a quick explanation and/or name drop here or there. Here we go!
The Cover: You may notice this image from a blog a while ago featuring Fountain Tarot (link below). We went through a ton of versions to re-imagine this image, including using a different hand and different mountains, and ditching the fire…but, you know? We were all pretty stuck on the original version, so we turned it blue and slapped a shot of the Milky Way from Vedauwoo, WY over the top of it.
The Back Cover: I dug the flame being an integral part in the storytelling of the album. In my own mind, the flame represented the Symphony and – much more ambiguously – music as a whole. I feel like playing with a Symphony feels so unattainable as a musical artist, as does the concept of writing a song that audiences like as much as you do. It always has felt like a distant, fleeting idea. Gregory has certainly gained the audience, but I know he’s just like any other musician; constantly questioning, and editing, and leaving ideas behind.
The Inside Panel: There’s a wonderful photographer out of California that I feel extremely lucky to have collaborated with on this project. Blue Caleel (link below) is an amazing talent and spectacular person. She was sweet enough to provide some shots of Gregory she had gotten in some tall grass. I used two of her images; one of his back to the camera (with a hint of the grass on the top and the distant mountain in back) and one of him wading through the tall grass nestled – almost invisibly – in the side of the mountain. The overall mountain images were from the Blue Lakes on the way to the peak of Mt. Sneffels here in beautiful Colorado. The stars, again, were from Vedauwoo. The flame was (yeah…this is real) from fires I was making in my basement against a black backdrop – using flash paper and a remote trigger I hit with my big toe. I really love the subtlety of these images. There’s something really driving about how dark and brooding they are. Make sure to check out Blue’s work if you can, she really is astonishingly talented!
Some Other Stuff: First off, I was SO lucky to be working with Gregory and his incredible troupe. Mandy and Sarah were who I primarily dealt with, and the three of us had a genuine blast creating this artwork. Everyone was easy going, fun to work with, and open and honest about hopes and expectations. It was such a lovely experience.
The insert features my great friend, Liz Swanson playing the cello. I feel like her natural grace was captured beautifully in these images. I often think hands are more expressive than eyes in that they carry such a strong pull to story. Her elegance of wrist and delicate balance of the bow was such a beautiful, and genuinely perfect representation for this record that I found myself arguing for some of the images to be the cover for quite some time.
The other side of the insert is almost completely handwritten by yours truly. I’ve been doing a lot of handwriting lately – make sure to check out Mandolin Orange’s upcoming blog in a few months. It’s super fun to try to match different sonic personalities with a written sentiment. However, when you’re dealing with handwriting an entire massive credit list that includes a full symphony, it can get pretty tiring. I had to take a few breaks. I think, overall, the handwriting alone took me about 14 hours. Whew. But, I like the sporadic, unruly, and oddly familiar quality the handwriting took on. I used a thin point calligraphy pen dipped in India ink for all of it. I love the meandering quality you can get with dip ink, it can feel really unpredictable and bounding.