Summer 2013 brought me a new and exciting opportunity to bring audio and visual together as I was commissioned to design the album artwork for singer/songwriter Adam Buynicki.
Mixing/Mastering Engineer Chris Frasco of The Brooklyn Outboard, who helped bring this solo acoustic project to life, describes the album entitled To Each Their Own as "Adam Buynicki in his purest form." Frasco says, "These songs bear the soul of a man who has been through a lot in life. More importantly, it’s a masterwork by an artist who has spent the better part of his life crafting personal experiences into songs. Put simply: if this record doesn’t make you feel something, you’re a robot."
The challenge for me was to do this collection justice in visual form. Adam had already requested an aesthetic in line with my graphic, black and white ink drawings. This was a win-win for both of us-- the piece would fit seamlessly into my series and could act as a portfolio piece for me, and in return, the album artwork would travel with my personal collection to be exhibited publicly, gaining his work some exposure. However, the work needed to resonate with him personally as well and carry a connection to the music.
I started with a quick brainstorming session, and very simply, compared some of Adam's personal symbols with my own visual vocabulary. His appreciation for the mountains and outdoors worked perfectly with my love of trail maps, and it was simple enough to veer from my typical use of birch trees to an olive tree, an icon of peace that is so strong for Adam that it's inked into his skin. I became interested in how his symbols overlapped with my own: a molecular structure transforming into a rose window, constellations merging with brain synapses. To me, this embodies the idea of "To Each Their Own " in an inclusive way-- our own preferences and ideologies as individuals can be incredibly different, but contrast and collide in a way that is quite beautiful.
Next up- how does musical composition impact visual composition? I spent a lot of time listening to the demos, and tried not to get much feedback from Adam himself on this part. I needed my ears to do some work and create my own impression, which was that the songs carried a heartfelt wholeness yet an innate heaviness. The audio felt BIG, like one guy in a large room. I thought about gravity in composition, creating weight. Considering balance. Balance of emotional fortitude and delicacy, translating into weight of line and placement of form. This drawing is one of very few I've ever worked with that puts the focal point in the visual center, which moves off-center on the folded CD cover. How could I move the viewer's eye while keeping a sense of space and openness? How could I translate the songs' ability to connect boldly with the listener and then trail off into fragile threads?
The finished drawing is ink on 11x17 mylar, which I entitled Solo Acoustic. I then tested my grapic-designer-chops to add the artwork to a finished CD design.
Solo Acoustic is a celebration of space and intentional solitude, but not loneliness. It is meant to capture a quiet meandering contrasted with strong emotional tension that Adam expresses so beautifully in his collection of songs.