Record Redux: Celebrating (and designing for) Female Music Icons

My last post about the book (and coolest project collaboration to date) "Record Redux: Spice Girls" touched on the greater book series to which this first volume belongs and serves as the kick-off.

I'll say again how thankful I am to be a part of this project; not only as a designer but as a music lover. Starting with the Spice Girls — and now shifting to Carly Simon for book #2 — I've already been exposed to corners of their respective music catalogues I hadn't known before. It's truly a fascinating course in music appreciation. And Quentin's commentaries, both written and shared with me in conversation, add deeper layers of storytelling behind every song.

Last week, we announced the entire 14-book lineup, via this fun graphic. The series presents a compelling, dynamic and unexpected selection of exciting women, each of whom have helped shape the sound of popular music over several decades.

What distinguishes the Record Redux Series is its dedication to focusing on the music, not the halo of celebrity and hype that surrounds — and sadly, often engulfs — the artist. For every time the media diverts our attention with an artist's connection to an overly dramatized scandal, a high profile marriage, dating escapades, their latest hairstyle, or wardrobe malfunction — the music gets pushed out to the margins, fighting for attention and yearning for discussion.

Many of the women featured in this lineup have been written about extensively, but rarely is their music covered with any degree of depth or critical perspective. It's my sincere hope that this series helps music fans rediscover the work of these amazing women and see (as well as hear) them in a new light.

Which artist are you most interested to learn more about in greater detail? For myself, I'm looking forward to exploring Sheena, Teena, the 70's Supremes and Joan.

My Design Challenge: Doing These Women Justice

I have to admit that aside from the task of designing the contents of the books, the most daunting aspect of these books is capturing the likeness — the essence of the artist, the woman — for each book cover.

They will need to be instantly recognizable yet not come off as broad caricatures. And I think each one will present unique challenges. Some, by virtue of their iconic status, already have become an alter ego of sorts unto themselves, whereas others will require a greater degree of visual detail to come to life. For example, the Spice Girls are “built in” with larger-than-life stage personas that married perfectly with the superhero/pop comic graphic treatment I gave them for their cover. By contrast, I'll likely take a more nuanced approach with the likes of Sheena Easton, Kim Wilde and Teena Marie.

Does the pressure to achieve this kinda freak me out? Yep. Am I up for the challenge? Definitely.

I'll start the cover design for the Carly Simon book soon, but my approach will be entirely different from the one I took for the Spice Girls. Something more flowing and “painterly” in the line work, I think. I look forward to unveiling the cover sometime this fall/early winter!

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