BEHIND THE SCENES: The Album Art of 16 Edgewood, Part 1
16 Edgewood (stream the album or go to album site) is Yale Out of the Blue’s 11th studio album, and a labor of love. Every detail of the album was carefully considered, right down to the album art, and I want to share the process of realizing the cover art, the CD and the liner notes.
The album is named after the big brown house on 16 Edgewood in New Haven, CT, and it can be understood in two ways.
On one hand, the album celebrates the musical and personal growth each of us experienced during the year that 16 Edgewood served as OOTB HQ. In addition to being home base, it was also where we recorded the entire album. Thanks to the amazing Ted Trembinski and Mike Boxer, we literally turned the entire top floor into a studio.
Conceptually, 16 Edgewood can also be understood to be a vessel (a house) for the stories that play out in the different songs on the album. When you plug in your headphones and hit play, you’re crossing the threshold into a place called 16 Edgewood, with all the drama, highs and lows of a soap opera.
Considering how much the album was defined by this physical address, we wanted the cover art to speak in the visual language of old, grand houses. But what visual shorthand could we use to describe a home?
A lion-head door knocker had featured prominently in the pre-launch landing page of the album site, and so I decided to develop the cover around the idea of a central door knocker.
Screenshot of the teaser landing page of yaleootb.com/16edgewood
Over the next few weeks, I made a series of visual explorations of the idea, using different drawing media, different compositions and even different kinds of paper.
Draft on coarser, creamier paper. Fun fact: the amount of white in the paper will change the character of yellow color pencil.
I decided early on to go with an illustrated look over a photograph-based design. While watching the videos of our arrangers discussing their work, I realized how each track is the culmination of an intricate collaborative effort involving the musical director, soloist and arranger. There is something bespoke about each song. I wanted the cover art to reflect that personal touch, so I rejected stock images in favor of custom art.
Experimenting with wood grain.
Early iteration of the knocker. The constraint of the square shape of the CD required us to shorten the height for the final version.
The final image shows a door knocker with the house address engraved upon it. The leaves are elm leaves, a nod to Yale and the city of New Haven (which is nicknamed “The Elm City”). The illustration itself is scuffed up a little, reminiscent of a drawing you might find in an old family album (again, in reference to the language of homes).
Finally, there’s an Easter egg in the bottom right corner.
The initials M.F. stand for Marisa Fusco, a delightful six year old who is literally OOTB’s biggest fan! Marisa has made her father bring her to almost every single OOTB concert, and this was our little way of thanking her for her support.
Next up: insight into the design of the CD itself, the insert and the liner notes.