Meet the jury that will judge your Lucas & Steve single cover
Beloved DJ duo Lucas and Steve seek inspiration from everything they encounter. So Adobe had to find an equally eclectic jury to help them judge the winning design for the cover of their new vocal single, Where have you gone (Anywhere).
As Head of Design at Spinnin’ Records, Amsterdammer Lesley Quist oversees creative concepts for the artists and sub-labels of Spinnin’ Records. Adobe Evangelist Rufus Deuchler started as a graphic and editorial designer, but his work became so integrated with the Adobe toolkit that they eventually wooed him to become their international spokesman and teacher. His colleague Isabel Lea is a creative resident at Adobe and co-founder of ATYPICAL, a creative studio specialising in unconventional visual storytelling. Swedish designers Mia Askerstam Nee and Antonio Vergara Alvarez form the design duo Acid and Marble. Acid and Marble designed visual identities for musicians like Ishi, Alesso and the record label S-ZE.
They’re all excited to see the submissions for Where have you gone (Anywhere)’s cover. They offered some advice to help participants find their best result.
Inspiration and context
Inspiration can come from anywhere, whether on a walk or Instagram and Behance. “These days I am in awe at what everyone is doing around the world,” Rufus enthuses. Lesley finds a mix of inspiration important. “One minute I’m browsing through my friend’s old vinyls. Next, I’m checking out a blog.” Acid and Marble and Isabel both warn against getting too focused on internet inspiration, though. “Get out of the office,” Acid and Marble advise. “True inspiration comes by giving the brain muscles exercise in other areas and letting the creative mind rest.”
It’s also important to be aware of cultural trends. As Isabel says, “‘Concept is king, context is queen’. You always need a strong idea, and it’s important to understand how it relates to the world around you, what’s come before it, and what you want to say.” In the music industry, the movement from CDs to online music consumption made covers even more central. A unique signature style makes an artist memorable among the thousands competing for downloads and streams.
Examples to exceed
We wanted to know the judges’ favourite covers, but they didn’t want to choose. Lesley finally acknowledged “I was crazy about Realtime by Jacques Greene, designed by Hassan Rahim. It’s a straightforward idea but very effective in the way that the design can be translated across different media.” Rufus (eventually) chose Nirvana’s Nevermind. “The baby under water following the money as the bait. Simple, clear, and to the point.” Acid and Marble are constantly inspired by Peter Saville’s design for Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures. “The clever idea and the very graphic and clean aesthetic makes it completely timeless and feels as much 2018 as 1979.” Isabel claimed a soft spot for AM by the Arctic Monkeys. “I like the subtleness of the ‘AM’ within the main design, and how people read so many different things into it (some people think it’s a heartbeat, others a sound wavelength). Its ambiguous in just the right way and so simple.”
A view from the biz
At Spinnin’ Records, Lesley had a front-row seat to the many evolutions. “In recent years, there’s a much greater need for crossover between art and commercial design in pop-related genres. There’s a desire for authenticity and an ‘underground’ sensibility.” He cautions that branding shouldn’t be superficial. “It is important for an artist to know who they are and what they stand for.” Even when an artist has an entire creative team to work with, that self-knowledge needs to be the foundation of everything they do.
Our judges’ ideas about breaking into the industry sound like a great pattern for life in general. “Don’t be limited by established standards,” Lesley instructs. “If you’re a creative, it’s your task to break old trends and educate the industry with new ideas.” Rufus concurs. “Apply what you are learning at school, but don’t get lost in details and complexities. Follow your guts!” Isabel adds a hopeful note. “You can learn something from every opportunity (even if it’s not directly in the field), and some of the best designers I know have come into the industry through unconventional routes.” Acid and Marble have important business counsel. “Charge artists/managers/labels the same as you would charge any other industry, for everyone’s sakes. Cool and fun work doesn’t mean free work and it is important to both sides that the work is done with 100% commitment and taken seriously.”
How to design the winning entry
Our judges are curious to see what the contest turns up. Rufus notes that no matter where you are in your career, a competition like this is an excellent way to break up patterns and find a new path.
They have some specific advice about the covers as well. Lesley encourages you to find “the right balance between image and typography, one which ensures that typography does not feel like an afterthought.” Rufus suggests a helpful process. “I’d start with basics. What is it that represents Lucas & Steve? What colour are they? What font are they? Are they a font? What shapes are they? Then do a whole bunch of sketches and go from there.” Isabel concurs, “Find an idea or concept that responds to the music and then be playful with it!”
As for what they’re looking for, they have some metrics and a hope of surprise. Acid and Marble want to see a strong idea and concept. “On top of that, we look at typography, usage of the elements required, photographic quality and the level of skills in the craft.” Lesley adds, “It is important that the branding of an artist can evolve slowly. I am curious to see how the participants give their own innovative spin on the elements of Lucas and Steve’s branding.”
So now you’ve met the jury. It’s time to design something to impress them. After all, you already know where to look for inspiration!