©2020 Built with love by Nick Howland.

VISCOM 1 / Record Sleeve Design (Final)

VISCOM 1 / Record Sleeve Design (Final)
December 11, 2012 nick howland

For the final project in Viscom, we had to select two tracks by a single artist (or by two different artists) but the tracks had to be linked somehow. It took a bit to decided since I was torn between David Byrne & Brian Eno or Talking Heads, but I ended up going with Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime and I Zimbra. I felt that both tracks were connected by a frantic feeling of displacement, confusion, and failure. There also seemed to be a narrative shared between the two songs, a narrative that didn’t rely on one song being placed before the other; they are interchangeable and could easily work with either being placed before or after the other. The narrative theme, to me, was that of drowning or, more specifically, committing suicide by plunging oneself into the cold depths of a seemingly bottomless body of water. I Zimbra can be seen as either the disorder occurring before and leading to the demise of the narrator or it can be seen as the events taking place after the narrator thinks on the subject (which the narrator does throughout Once in a Lifetime); the action itself. Another interesting bit of info is that I Zimbra‘s lyrics are based on a Dada poem, which contributes to the chaotic atmosphere of the song.

In order to capture this narrative, I wanted to experiment with transparency and overlap within my illustration. Originally, I wanted the transparencies to actually be physical pieces with two interchangeable covers. the sleeve itself (on the front) would have the background information (the floor and window) printed on it but the transparency would have the rest of the illustration on it. The back would have a similar design with the background being printed on the actual sleeve itself along with some of the text and the transparency would have the rest of the text information.The first of the two interchangeable covers would show the illustration of the room and contents being normal and intact. The chair would be placed in the center of the composition with items laid out in front of it. The placement of the personal items in an organized fashion is to represent the preparation to end one’s life. Amongst the items is a note. The second cover would have the items being carried away and thrashed around in the room by a large wave of water coming through the window in the background. This would be the action being carried out.

The experimentation with overlay and transparency refers not only to the layers of the band’s music but also to the recording process utilized when making Once in a Lifetime. The song was produced by Brian Eno, who had the band record their portions of the song independently then he mixed them together.

Unfortunately, the experimentation with the physical transparencies didn’t work out so well (though it is something that I will revisit next semester). I couldn’t seem to get the items to print correctly or even print at all. The printer was acting most janky and wouldn’t seem to cooperate with me. In order to maintain the narrative in the illustration and still utilize both covers I had made (to fully flesh out the narrative), I decided to experiment with overlay and transparency digitally. I also created a pattern on the inside of the sleeve with one of  illustrations of the chair I did. Images of the sleeve can be seen below along with shots of the record itself.

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And here are process shots showing the illustration progress.

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