A few months back, I was asked to do the album art for the band Mercy Street (in which my very talented brother is also the drummer for!). This proved to be a fun yet challenging project, as I really wanted the personality of the band to come out in the artwork and reflect their music. After a few weeks of back and forth, brainstorming different ideas, we agreed upon the concept of a ship trying to make its way through an ocean of chaos. I loved this idea because a lot of Mercy Street’s songs are about struggle and letting go and being who you want to be. I felt the concept would work well and that gave me the go ahead to start sketching!
I immediately had an idea in my head and did a quick thumbnail along with some colour studies I thought would maybe work in the later stages:
They liked the first pass, but asked me to change a few things. For example, not all of the colour palettes were working for them. Option 3, I remember my brother telling me, looked like a sea of bacon (mmm bacon). They found the colours in 5 and 6 to be the most intriguing and I kept that in mind for when I would get to the colouring stage later on. They also asked if I could take out the tall rock that was jutting out and add in several cliffs instead, showing more shipwrecks and making the ocean look more treacherous.
I expanded on these ideas in the second pass, playing further with the composition and also adding in an idea for the CD art (which we never ended up using because they were going to start with a digital release). I was happier with this sketch, as was the band, and I went ahead with further planning!
I set out to figure out dimensions and layout, mapping in my composition and drawing in the elements. This is what my tight pencil looked like. Notice the boats are nonexistent at the moment. I added those in later on using a separate layer.
And here are the inks!
I was also asked if I could work on some hand-drawn type to use for the album title and track names. Here’s some variations I came up with for the band name. In the end, we went with the first option.
After a lot of playing around in photoshop with colours and textures, I came up with something I finally liked. Being a hobbyist photographer, I sometimes enjoy throwing a photo into my final illustrations. I had so many neat photos of stormy skies and felt there was opportunity here to include one here. Below are the final images, which can also be viewed in my portfolio here: http://www.nicokat.com/project/album-artwork-for-mercy-street/
Overall, this project turned out to be a lot of fun! This was my first time designing artwork to be used for a music album and working with Mercy Street was a very good experience! And I’m happy to say that they were just as excited about the final artwork as I was!
If you like your rock music a little edgier, I recommend you check out Mercy Street at http://mercystreet.bandcamp.com/. They just released this album, which is their first full-length, this past Friday. You can download the entire album for free on their Bandcamp site! It’s a sweet deal! Go check it out! 😀