Helveticore: The Art of Ox

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First I would like to apologize for leaving such a long time between posts. My head has been floating in a world of WordPress templates and Objective C for weeks. Second, before I get to my main thesis I would like to share this week’s random Photobomb of something metal or design related. Below you can see a screen cap from the short-lived show Party Down which I am currently re-watching. It was a very well done show about working in the catering industry and is especially funny if you have worked in that industry for many years as I did. Anyway in the image, you can see a charming bathroom scene featuring event manager, and all around tool, Ron peeing in front of a poster for The Bled’s 2007 effort Silent Treatment. It’s an alright album but no where near as good as Heat Fetish. So that’s a little fun thing I saw while writing this post, now on to the task at hand.

Some time ago I was perusing the internet and managed to come across Coalesce‘s Blue Collar Distro Store. Coalesce is not my favourite band musically, but I think that the artwork created for Ox is incredible. The way that the central motif, we’ll call it the Ox star, is used to establish a ‘brand’ for this musical release (it can be viewed in its many iterations at the top of the post). The star is used to produce almost all collateral design objects. To me it is reminiscent of the way in which many corporations have branding guidelines to enforce the proper use of their identity. As an example, and for a good read, check out this PDF of the old McDonald’s branding guidelines. It is a pdf so unless you’re using Chrome it will download, you’ve been warned. The design of the Ox packaging and merch is tightly controlled in much the same way that the McDonald’s logo can only be used in certain ways. Sure there’s not as much variety when you get your t-shirt at the show, but as an artistic piece it makes a much bolder statement with it’s common elements, providing a defined set of images that can be used to represent the band at this point in their career (stop and start as their career may be). *

My favourite item on the Blue Collar Distro store is the Ox show poster (below). The illustration of the ox’s head is an awesome way to use the previously developed brand elements to create something new that still feels like part of the entire package. Also using the star as a grid is a innovative way to reinterpret the rectangular grids usually employed in graphic design. Not to mention the fact that the grid was used to create a custom typeface which works surprisingly well considering the awkwardness of some of its shapes.

Poster

In the spirit of giving credit where it’s due, the art for Ox was created by Invisible Creature, they have some really nice product shots on their website. Don Clark, one of the owners of the firm had this to say about the package, “[Sean Ingram, vocalist] really wanted to go all out in regards to the physical piece: die-cuts, embossing, metallic inks, spot varnishes, etc. and I was completely on board. Many labels are dumping unique packaging options in favor of creating the cheapest physical product they can. Luckily Relapse supported our effort” (Source) It’s good to see that Relapse, at least at the time, was behind producing a beautiful physical package for the album. I’ve never actually seen the album in person, but I would really like to see how the embossing, metallics and spot varnishes were used. These things are the subject of my wet dreams. From what I can see the diecuts are a really interesting way to tie the design from the front, to the photos on the inside of the booklet. I will leave you with some sexy product shots taken from the Invisible Creature site. As I mentioned last week, feel free to follow me on Twitter to get all the up-to-the-minute important things that make my life special.

Package

Seriously, look at that, so beautiful. I would love to have the opportunity to design something this broad in scope and with so few creative limitations.

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*to any members of Coalesce or people working for, and around the band, I am sorry that I compared you to McDonalds.

– Stefan

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