@studiocatherine Not in the slightest! Our printers just require a little extra time.
Whether used for a single album, or spanning an entire career, the artist’s logo is often an imperative part in the visual language of music design. Here we speak to the creators of some of our favourites.
I first drew some lightning bolt-style lettering in 1976 for an album called AC/DC High Voltage, a first release for the band in the US. Bob Defrin, who I often worked with, was the creative director. Usually, an album had a theme or title and it was my job to interpret that in letterforms. I was then hired to design lettering for the next AC/DC album entitled Let There Be Rock – the first AC/DC album to feature their now iconic mark. During the design stage, I recalled a live album I worked on for Blue Öyster Cult called On Your Feet or on Your Knees, which used Gutenberg bible-inspired lettering with a twist, which became the reference for the AC/DC lettering.
The Let There Be Rock album cover featured the band on stage with a dark sky overhead, but light shining down through the clouds. The colour and bevel were chosen to complement the sky background. Of some significance, this is the only lettering I have designed that was made entirely of straight lines. Its long life is a testament to a band that still tours.
I’d been working at the ABC for some time, when I was approached to come up with ideas for a new music clip show that would broadcast on Friday nights through to Saturday mornings. The ABC had already provided me with the name Rocks Off, which I thought was terrible, so I came up with the idea of Rage ‘Til You Puke (which then got shortened to Rage).
The logo itself was the only item we had to pay for, which is lucky because I had a budget of $800 for the whole opening sequence. An ABC cameraman shot all the other imagery that makes up the Rage titles. We went around the ABC office and got people to mouth the word ‘rage’, which was overdubbed through moving Perspex, to create the distorted aesthetic. We then put together the title sequence at a digital effects facility called Custom Video at Channel 7.
I explained to the editor that I needed a logo, he introduced me to a graphic artist who was working there (unfortunately, I cannot remember her name), and I explained to her that I wanted the titles in lowercase, looking like something that comes off a typewriter and for the colours to look as close to vomit as was possible. She quickly came up with about 20 options on the spot, I picked the one that I thought was the closest to vomit and the rest is history.
THE CAT EMPIRE, 2000
The Cat Empire formed out of a previous line-up called Jazz Cat. For Jazz Cat’s only recording (that wasn’t released), I played around with cat’s eyes, and ended up with quaver notes replacing the retinas of the eyes – in this case, a tiger. The resulting cover ended up being a bit amateur, as I was still teaching myself computer skills.
A lot of my early self-taught computer skills were developed designing fictional labels and logos for my son, Ollie’s [keyboardist, The Cat Empire] bands, including the predecessor to the current Cat Empire line-up, The Cat Empire Trio. This is when I stumbled on the idea of combining a crown with the cat’s eye (a development influenced by the Jazz Cat imagery). I spent hours looking for the simplest expression of that thought, and the result is history. The logo has been applied to everything over the past 11 years, and the band is now at the stage where they can use the logo without the band name on the posters, and people recognise the brand.
Art director: Tony Hung
Design: Adjective Noun
I met with Kylie and William Baker (her creative director) on the day of the Fever album photo shoot in 2001. They discussed with me their creative for the album – broadly speaking, a stripped back concept (which formed the iconic album image) and their interest in a logo that had an appearance of a futuristic and high-end, hi-fi music brand.
Her label (Parlophone) sent me a CD-R of the proposed single ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, I remember vividly how stunning it sounded. I played the track on repeat during the whole initial design period; the futuristic/electro sound seeped in and would drive the design direction.
While sketching, I started to method act and draw the letters K Y L I E as if they were hand drawn, but by a robot, to mirror the human voice/electro instrumental hybrid of the track. I also explored many visuals relating to their stripped back creative, and found that the sound wave was the most striking. By joining all the ‘robot-writing’ into a continuous line and with a little adjustment, the letters started to mimic the jagged displacements of a sound wave. The final version features the connecting lines removed for legibility.
I believe the success of the logotype is simply because it is attached to Kylie and how ground-breaking, holistically, the Fever campaign would prove to be. Graphically, I feel it has held up well because it possesses energy, yet is minimal and individual. The design also proved to be very robust, transferring well across all kinds of mediums, merchandise and stage backdrops etc, which is always a good test for a mark in pop music.
We had pitched on several ARIA-based projects in the past, ranging from broadcast design packages to web design, and, based on this relationship, ARIA contacted us and asked us to work on a new logo and overall look for the 2010 awards.
The brief was for the new logo to appeal to a new audience, and take ARIA forward in a fun and contemporary way. They wanted a sense of colour, strong forms and for it to be modern. ARIA had used its previous logo for a few years and felt, given the change in musical trends, it was time to revamp the logo and its execution. We worked on and supplied many logo options. When working on pitches or concept work, we generally like to vary out ideas. We work in extremes, investigating as many avenues as possible, so some of the other options we suggested were more complicated, whereas some were simpler. Fortunately, they chose our favourite – internally, we all felt it was the strongest, simplest and, most importantly, answered the brief the best.
We later developed the logo into moving pieces for broadcast, and created a 3D version for the 2011 award show, where a ‘25’ was also added, to celebrate ARIA’s 25th anniversary.
I was preparing for the release of We Are Born and started imagining a font. It was ‘all about tribal’ at the time, remember? Early 2010, ikat and Africa were everywhere, and I went along for the ride. I wanted an imperfect and angular font. I wanted KISS by a toddler. So, I sat at my dining room table in New York City, and with a pencil I set about skull barfing something without thinking too much about it – something uncontrived. The type you see was the first and last draft. I sent it to designer Técha Noble who traced it to life, paint bucketed varying colours in for my approval and put together the final layout for the album artwork.
From desktop magazine.