A System for Designing Albums

Posted by: on May 26, 2011 in

My final project was making a system that allows a designer to easily create album artwork. The system is quite complex, so I created a sheet that explains how it works. Basically, the system defines a set of rules for the designer, who can then create a design inspired by the music from that album over, while still following the set rules. The result is a geometric styled series of designs that become a set.

The first step in following the system, is to find the colors. To do this you must take the first three letters of the album artist, and using the given chart find their values. The first value will determine the value of C, the second of M, and the third of Y. K will remain at zero, always. This color will be the set background color for this album artist, and appear on each of his or her albums. The next step is to find the color values for each word in the album title; these will become the colors for all the shapes that appear in the design. These colors will be found the exact same way as the first one – by taking the first three letters, finding each of their values, and entering them into the C, M and Y values, excluding K.

Now that there are colors for the design, the designer may love or hate the colors chosen for them. The only option for the designer at this point is to change the value of K – perhaps by making the color darker or more transparent, the color will become less repulsive. This is only to be done if the color is absolutely horrendous or if the colors clash when put together. The challenge of these predetermined colors is to make the design work no matter what colors you are given, and I won’t lie, sometimes it isn’t easy.

Next you will count the number of colors, including the album artist, and if the number is even, your design must be symmetrical. If it is an odd number, than your design must be asymmetrical. After finding this, the designer must then determine the shape that they will be designing with. To do so, they will take the first and last letter from the album artist’s name, and find the value for each. The value of each letter is determined by the letter’s placement in the alphabet, for example A equals 1 and Z equals 26. The number that results after adding these two values together will determine the shape to be used. Using the results, one of these three shapes will be picked:

If less than 16 = Triangle

If between 16 and 33 = Square

If greater than 33 = Circle

After finding the shape, the designer will need to know the overarching theme to follow when making their design. The themes are as follows: Rock=Curves, Jazz=Simple, Easy Listening=Quiet, Electronic=Pattern, Hip Hop=Bold, Pop=Movement, Alternative=Layers. These themes will need to serve as the nature in which the design is brought to be. These predetermined rules will now be in the designer’s head as he or she sits and listens to the album, designing according to how they are inspired by the music, but also sticking to the rules given to them.

Following my system I made 8 album covers. I was really inspired by the process, because using the system took me completely out of my comfort zone. I am usually really bad at choosing colors and it was far more manageable to have to work with predetermined colors rather than come up with my own. Instead, the challenge was to make an interesting design even if the colors seemed awful. If I revisit this system in the future, I would like to change the step that requires the designer to listen to the music and design based on the rules – I would prefer it to be an automated process, where the computer determines the design based on all the rules and the actual sound wave files of the music. I think this system could also become a system for creating imagery for things that are not easily illustrated – and I would like to explore that idea in the future.


Falling Vowels

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My Random/Generative system project was done as an experiment. I chose to play in the typeshop, using the vowels (because there was a lot of them) from one of the drawers of Univers. I set these up in a grid, using furniture, but not locking them in a chase. This allowed for the type to move and fall, changing with every run of the press. I originally thought that the letters would just move around, but as I began I discovered that they were falling over as I inked them. So, I decided to run the press as usual, as many times as necessary until each of the letters had fallen over. This resulted in stacks of paper, and when put in order the letters appeared to jump or move around the page. I decided to bind them all into a book so that I could keep them all together, but didn’t go into too much design work for the covers or binding as I wanted the book to feel like the experiment it was.

Circle Posters

Posted by: on April 20, 2011 in


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Once again, my photos were all quite large, so here’s a few interesting photos.

Walking aimlessly…

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My images were all really large, so I’m just going to upload a few of the most interesting photos I took.

Occupational Outlook

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My process began with this small mock-up book, where I was playing with the edge elements. After looking at the small book I knew this was an element I wanted to include in the final book.

My version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook was based on the reader wanting to know the salary of each occupation first and foremost. So, I created a ‘salary meter’ made up of four squares on the edge of the book, so that they would bleed off and appear along the fore edge. The four squares are different colors, and proceed in this fashion: 0-25k, 25-50k, 50-75k, 75k and up. The reader can find which salary they may be interested in quickly and easily.

This ‘salary meter’ started a theme for the book. Squares. So the book became square, and I introduced a square typeface for certain elements.

I wanted the book to be calm, so I chose a soothing color pallete and removed all the black from the book as a whole.

Collected Book

Posted by: on March 17, 2011 in

The first part of making this book was finding materials. When I started looking for material, I pulled a giant stack of magazines off of my bookshelf and just started going through them, ripping entire pages out. After I had a rather large pile to sort through I started looking through at what I had picked out. I started to notice a lot of lines and breaks in both images and text, so I decided to go off of that. I was determined only to use scraps or found materials in this project, so I also went through my work scraps and found a window that I had cut out for a previous project. I drew two lines on that window, and went page by page through my material with it. I matched up lines, whether they were in between columns of text or somewhere in a photo, and using this window, cropped the pages. After that I went through and matched up pages that had similar colors and lines, or that just looked good next to each other.

The book is perfect bound, with a soft cover. The cover was also found among my work scraps.

Yay more patterns!

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