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Illustration • System • Research

Fall 2021 • GRA4197C: Visual System Design


The goal of this project was to identify an album that I found to be especially intriguing or valuable, whose visual design was lacking. I was then tasked with creating a new visual language based on the concepts and themes of the album, and to present that language through an album cover, posters, Spotify assets, and Instagram posts.

Album Selection

While I am not completely opposed to the current visuals of the album, I do think there could be improvement. From some research on the decisions behind the album design, it seems that the Japanese characters are purely aesthetic and, in that sense, I don’t think they contribute much to the album overall.

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Mind Map

In order to gain a better understanding of the content, concepts, and themes of the album, a mind map was completed while listening to each track. On this map I noted majors themes of each song, capturing the main idea. While completing this map I realized most of the songs were about love in some way: feeling grateful, longing, reluctance, physical distance, and feeling inadequate are just a few.

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Once I had captured the themes of the album, I turned to finding existing inspiration for my new design. I looked for albums that I liked not only for their music, but also their design. Specifically, I was looking at how these albums had used image quality and atmosphere in their design, and how that related to what I knew of the music.

Composition and layout were explored, as I planned to use illustration for the cover and not photography. I also looked at illustration styles, iconography, and typefaces.

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Visual Language

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Social Good Component

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The first draft of my album cover was an exploration into illustrating the radio and deciding what context to place it in. Originally, the radio was going to be on a desk that would be scattered with random items and a wall of posters behind it. Most of the color would be done in cool tones, with the exception of the screen on the radio, which would emit a soft yellow light. After working through this idea a bit more, however, I decided not to move forward with it in favor of a design that was more bright and colorful.

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Final Design



Ticket to Ride

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