David Bowie: The Next Day. That album cover design by Barnbrook Design
There has been much discussion surrounding the cover of the new David Bowie albumThe Next Dayso thought I would answer a few questions that people have asked about it.
– Why not a new image for the cover?
We wanted to do something different with it – very difficult in an area where everything has been done before – but we dare to think this is something new. Normally using an image from the past means, ‘recycle’ or ‘greatest hits’ but here we are referring to the titleThe Next Day. The“Heroes”cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is ‘of the moment’, forgetting or obliterating the past.
However, we all know that this is never quite the case, no matter how much we try, we cannot break free from the past. When you are creative, it manifests itself in every way – it seeps out in every new mark you make (particularly in the case of an artist like Bowie). It always looms large and people will judge you always in relation to your history, no matter how much you try to escape it. The obscuring of an image from the past is also about the wider human condition; we move on relentlessly in our lives to the next day, leaving the past because we have no choice but to.
– Why “Heroes”?
If you are going to subvert an album by David Bowie there are many to choose from but this is one of his most revered, it had to be an image that would really jar if it were subverted in some way and we thought“Heroes”worked best on all counts. Also the new album is very contemplative and the“Heroes”cover matched this mood. The songWhere are we now?is a comparison between Berlin when the wall fell and Berlin today. Most people know of Bowie’s heritage in Berlin and we want people to think about the time when the original album was produced and now.
– Why the white square obscuring the image?
We worked on hundreds of designs using the concept of obscuring this cover but the strongest ones were the simplest – it had to be something that was in direct contrast to the image underneath but that wasn’t too contrived (we know all design is contrived, that is the essence of the word ‘design’). It would have been clearer to many people if we had scribbled all over the cover but that didn’t have the detachment of intent necessary to express the melancholy of the songs on the album. Obscuring Bowie’s image is also reference to his identity, not only in the past when he changed endlessly but that he has been absent from the music scene for the past ten years. Was this an act to hide his identity or that he has simply become more comfortable with it?
– Why is there no colour?
The title of the albumThe Next Dayevokes numerous reference points, notably Macbeth’s speech ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow ’ which deals with the relentless onward push that any unnatural position of power requires. It also has the existential element ofWaiting for Godotwith waiting forThe Next Day– these all seem to question the nature of existence so a monochrome palette seemed most appropriate to this feeling.
– Why didn’t you do a logo, or new design of his name on the cover?
We wanted the cover to be as minimal and undesigned as possible, we felt the most elegant solution was to use the original one from“Heroes”and simply cross out the title of the old album. It has the detachment appropriate for the atmosphere of the new album.
– What is the font you used for the main title?
It is a new font that we are working on called Doctrine – this is the first major use of it. Doctrine will be released in the coming weeks atVirusFonts.
– What is Bowie like to work with?
He is quite a private person, so no need to say too much about him other than that he is a pleasure to work with. Very intelligent, funny, serious when he needs to be and generous in his thoughts and actions.
– Is there anything else you can add?
Yes, having said all this, we know it is only an album cover with a white square on it but often in design it can be a long journey to get at something quite simple which works and that simplicity can work on many levels – often the most simple ideas can be the most radical. We understand that many would have preferred a nice new picture of Bowie but we believed that would be far less interesting and not acknowledge many of the things we have tried to discuss by doing this design. Finally we would like to give David Bowie great credit, he simply did what he always does which is to go with a radical idea and that takes courage and intelligence. That is why we love his music and love working for him.
Barnbrook Design >
Creative Review – UK Music Video Awards 2011 Winners
Creative Review – UK Music Video Awards 2011 Winners
The UK Music Video Awards are voted for by people working in and around the promos industry, so are viewed as an insider’s take on the best music video work of the year. This year saw a widening of the awards to include international winners in every category, alongside a favourite UK winner. Canada, who were profiled in the October issue of CR (read the article here), also picked up the Best Pop Video – International award for Oh Land by White Nights and the Best Art Direction and Design gong for Invisible Light by Scissor Sisters (both shown below).
Great to see Invisible Light getting some love 😀
Read the rest here »
Alex Steinweiss, Originator of Artistic Album Covers, Dies at 94
The record cover was a blank slate in 1939, when Mr. Steinweiss was hired to design advertisements for Columbia Records. Most albums were unadorned, and on those occasions when art was used, it was not original. (Albums then were booklike packages containing multiple 78 r.p.m. discs.)
“The way records were sold was ridiculous,” Mr. Steinweiss said in a 1990 interview. “The covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.” Despite concern about the added costs, he was given the approval to come up with original cover designs.
His first cover, for a collection of Rodgers and Hart songs performed by an orchestra, showed a high-contrast photo of a theater marquee with the title in lights. The new packaging concept was a success: Newsweek reported that sales of Bruno Walter’s recording of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony increased ninefold when the album cover was illustrated.
“It was such a simple idea, really, that an image would become attached to a piece of music,” said Paula Scher, who designed record covers for Columbia in the 1970s and is now a partner in the design company Pentagram. “When you look at your music collection today on your iPod, you are looking at Alex Steinweiss’s big idea.”
Mr. Steinweiss preferred metaphor to literalism, and his covers often used collages of musical and cultural symbols. For a Bartok piano concerto, he rejected a portrait of Bartok, using instead the hammers, keys and strings of a piano placed against a stylized backdrop. For a recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” he used an illustration of a piano on a dark blue field illuminated only by an abstract street lamp, with a stylized silhouetted skyline in the background.
Mr. Steinweiss left the music business at 55, when he realized his design ideas were out of step with the rock era. He turned to his own art, making ceramic bowls and pots and later paintings, often with a musical theme. In 1974 he and his wife moved to Sarasota.
Mr. Steinweiss said he was destined to be a commercial artist. In high school he marveled at his classmates who “could take a brush, dip it in some paint and make letters,” he recalled. “So I said to myself, if some day I could become a good sign painter, that would be terrific!”
Via: NY Times
Designing the books of the future
The simple page
Designing a book is largely an exercise in balance: Balance of letterforms and surrounding space in relation to the physicality of a book. In Hochui and Kinross’ Designing Books, they discuss the uniqueness of book symmetry:
The axis of symmetry of the spine is always there; one can certainly work over it, but not deny it. In this respect book typography is essentially different from the typography of single sheets, as in business printing, posters, and so on.
The spine gives book reading a kinetic motion not found in unbound sheets of paper. Forward and backward movement within a book happens because of the spine. And so designers erect scaffolding—text blocks and running heads and other literary accoutrements—around this keystone axis. It is the natural balance point of a spread. The implicitness of this means publishers have largely achieved functional book design right from the beginning: the forty-two line columns of thick type in the Gutenberg bible, even today, are quite a marvel of typographic balance.
If the axis of symmetry for a book is the spine, where is it on an iPad? On one hand, designers can approach tablets as if they were a single sheet of “paper,” letting the physicality of the object define the central axis of symmetry—straight down the middle.
On the other hand, the physicality of these devices doesn’t represent the full potential of content space. The screen becomes a small portal to an infinite content plane, or “infinite canvas,” as so well illustrated by Scott McCloud.
Fig 1. The infinite canvas
Regarding iPad book design, designers are left with a fundamental question they must answer before approaching this device: Do we embrace the physicality of the device—a spineless page with a central axis of symmetry? Or do we embrace the device’s virtual physicality—an invisible spine defined by every edge of the device, signaling the potential of additional content just a swipe away?
Fig 2. Every which way is up
Presently there’s a clear rift in iPad editorial design. There are those applications—iBooks, Kindle, New York Times, Wired, The New Yorker—that attempt to transpose a type of print design built around physical cues to a screen lacking those same cues. They treat the boundaries of the iPad screen like the edges of a printed sheet of paper—sometimes awkwardly forcing content into columns which aren’t optimized for the canvas.
These applications are often characterized by an imposition of arbitrary, non-semantic breaks in content in the name of pagination. Oliver Reichentsien, in his essay iPad: Scroll or Card breaks down use cases for the two models. He provides metrics for determining when to scroll or paginate, and also how the very experience of reading changes between them.
Fig 3. The New York Times app: swipe to the left to continue reading this article
Fig 4. The New Yorker app: swipe up to continue reading this article
The inconsistency in which the physical page is mimicked on a tablet leaves readers disoriented, unaware of their position in the context of the greater whole, and unable to easily scan back.
On the other side we have reading applications like Instapaper and Mobile Safari (Mobile Safari being the most fundamental of reading applications on our iDevices) that embrace the boundless nature of the iPad screen. The physical edges don’t bind the text blocks.
Very rarely does one find an application that masterfully merges these two schools. Inkling, however, is one such example of a reading application that straddles the new and old—chunking content in an intuitively predictable and consistent manner within and across chapters, thereby grounding the user via thoughtful navigation. And doing so beautifully, with a confident awareness of the container.
What’s so exciting about all of this is that even now—at the start of 2011!—we’re still refining and iterating on optimal reading solutions to these issues of digital editorial design.
As designers, we need to ask ourselves: Where does our axis of symmetry most rationally lie for the content at hand? From where is the kinetic element of this content born? What’s the rationale behind specific layout and navigation choices for this content and will they be thoughtlessly intuitive to the reader?
We can start with these questions. Then, we can take our content, and—piece by piece—place it back onto this new canvas with considered awareness. These are the first steps to treating the iPad as more than a simple page.
A List Apart: Articles: A Simpler Page
This is just a small excerpt from an absolutely FANTASTIC piece by Craig Mod. I am so excited to see how we can use these new platforms to expand and enhance our reading expierences rather than just stubbornly cramming print layouts into them.
`A loving look at this DIY strand of publishing, from its earliest incarnations up to modern day online`E-Zines’
This is the ultimate book on Fanzines an amateur magazine produced by fans, for fans of a certain subculture. This highly visual illustrated book is full of reproductions of the best fanzines ever created, from the superhero tributes of the 1950s and 60s, to punk fanzines such as Sniffin Glue, right up the contemporary e-zine scene. Arranged in six chronological chapters, each with a thorough introduction, Fanzines spans eight decades of counterculture and features many extremely rare publications. Written by a fanzine collector and expert author, Fanzines has cult appeal for anyone interested in graphic design, magazine publishing or underground culture.
I would love to get hold of a copy of this 🙂