New Image Wednesday + Paper Bird


Hey! How was your week? Oooh…that’s a fancy new lawnmower! What does that even mean? “Eat that, Texas?” Dude, that makes no sense. Seriously, you’re trying to just say that about anything? Oddly, I can kind of get on board with this. Yeah, today’s blog is mostly from film cameras…eat that, Texas.

I’ve been stoked to release this blog for a while now! Today is all about the epically awesome Colorado band, Paper Bird.

I can’t tell you how great this project was! Every person involved has become a really wonderful friend – even doing the project alone has opened a ton of doors to meet lots of other folks, some of which I’m working on collaborative efforts with for future releases… I feel so lucky to have gotten to know these wonderful people better throughout the process of making their album art.

As many of you know, I try extremely hard to not just provide artwork for albums, but also a much larger experience. This often includes branding or re-branding an entire group. Paper Bird has been around for a little while now and had a pretty distinctive look. However, they’ve had some lineup changes and a major overhaul on their sound. So, when I went to their ranch to discuss artwork ideas, it was a bit tricky. I think all of us had it in our mind to do something rad with a desert and some kind of organic undertone. It was actually kind of surreal meeting, to be honest. First off, I had my puppy, Ida (who was less than three months old at the time). She’d thrown up a couple times on Merne in the truck ride to the ranch due to car sickness and when we arrived she promptly peed in the recording studio at their house. She then proceeded to run around and break everything. So, it was a bit of a rocky start… However, once we sat down to discuss ideas, the weirdest thing happened: every idea they pitched, I already had sketched it up. This happened to like five ideas. It was super wild. They were mentioning a desert and possibly a large obelisk embedded in the dirt. I literally pulled up a drawing of a bunch of people pulling an obelisk in a desert up on my iPad and said, “like this?” It just kept happening like that. I think we all kind of took it as serendipity.

We ventured into their recording studio having a couple ideas rattling around in our heads. Once we sat down and started listening to the new sound, one thing became glaringly evident: This isn’t the same organic, free-spirited, awesome band that it once was. This was now a sophisticated, tougher, polished, badass group of musicians. So, deserts, obelisks, ropes, etc. were all thrown out the window almost immediately upon hearing their new sound. We all agreed that we needed something more sophisticated and ‘city-ish.’ My mind directly went to one of my favorite photographers ever, Helmut Newton. As per the weirdness that had been set at the beginning of the meeting, I happened to have a book of his in my back pack. The band flipped out – as most do when looking at Helmut Newton’s work. It was settled.

The day of the shoot it was pretty ferociously blizzarding out. We started in a killer salon where the band was getting hair done up and choosing outfits. We had the pleasure of working with some of the best hair/makeup/wardrobe folks I’ve ever met. Even Sarah and Mark’s (from Paper Bird) brother flew out for wardrobe from LA. Super cool. I wasn’t quite privy to outfits until we were actually shooting them, but it was a rad surprise to see what they had chosen. We never once thought of Fleetwood Mac during this entire process, but it’s kind of cool to see elements of them pop in to the photos. We headed to my great friend, Seth’s warehouse after that. You’ve seen his stuff before…he has a company called Boston Woodworking (link below to his site and the blog I did). He was SO gracious to allow us to shoot in his amazing place. I loved the combination of super clean outfits and pristine white backdrop/black backdrop combined with the piles of wood, large metal structures, and awesome woodworking equipment in the background. It was such a rad day. Overall, it was a 16 hour photoshoot all said and done. I’m pretty sure all of us were pretty tired at the end.

Enough of my blathering. Here’s a 30 second intro video that features a song that the band is releasing in a couple days! Make sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled. I’m PUMPED for all of you to hear the full record, it’s absolutely incredible.

See y’all tonight at Office Hours!! As always thanks for looking at my stuff. Eat that, Texas.

+ S


Paper Bird – Website

Merne Judson III – Website

Boston Woodworking – Website l Blog

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