Success Stories : : Katie Moore's Album Art for Columbia Records / COIN
Posted on 12th January 2016 by Austin Gould

Graphic Designer: Katie Moore

Client: Columbia Records / COIN

Success Stories is a blog series where we talk to artists on Dripbook about their recent successful projects, providing industry insights from top creative professionals.

Continuing with this series, we hear from Katie Moore, a Los Angeles-based graphic designer who was called upon to create debut album artwork for the Columbia Records-signed band, COIN. Read below to see what she had to say about this project:

"This project began at 8:32 Thanksgiving morning when I got a semi-frantic text from the lead singer of COIN.  (Semi-frantic texts are one of many ways I get work – the more traditional means being through artist management or label creative departments.) He explained to me that the designer hired for their debut album wasn’t working out, and asked if I could help. It’s always a sticky situation to be the second choice designer; generally you’re late to the game with deadlines looming, and you’re dealing with an artist who is at the end of their rope. Glutton for punishment that I am, I said yes."

"I’ve found in my time that adjectives are fickle things. We often use the same words but have very different meanings attached. So, while I value description, images are necessary for me. Visual references allow for clearer interpretation which helps everything move smoothly. I specifically asked the band to see what the other designer had done (a.k.a. what they didn’t want), and asked them to gather other covers that inspired them (a.k.a. what they did want).

The original designer’s work was beautiful - layered with rich colors, it was artful and moody. Two things immediately struck me: 1) I am out of my league, 2) this is all wrong for COIN. I had a gut feeling the direction would be all over the place. This wasn’t a case of the designer lacking talent – she was incredible – but the vision was getting warped in a game of telephone. As it is with most bands – listening to four voices instead of one gets confusing quickly. Having known COIN for quite some time, I had an ace in the hole. What the band didn’t know– in fact what they probably still don’t know – is that a few of them had reached out to me separately months before, admiring another cover I’d done. It was the ‘Bare Bones EP’ for The Civil Wars - a sparse cover with only a frame in the center. They had all mentioned loving the same two things: that it was clean and that is was simple. At the risk of ripping myself off, I decided to use my secret weapon – all white everything."

"To me, white made complete sense. The album was about coming of age and stepping into adulthood. I remembered how it felt to pack up, to leave my empty childhood bedroom and walk into an empty dorm room. It was a blank slate, it was a fresh start - it was growing up. And so the white room idea was born. The band loved it; thankfully the label did as well. Once the cover was approved, we designed their single and the accompanying EP using objects the band had painted white. Each object represented a song - the idea being that just as songs fill an album, objects fill a room."

"Full disclosure: I judge albums by their covers. I feel lucky to be trusted in creating the first impression of work an artist has spent years making. I was especially lucky to be a part of the process with this band. Not only am I insanely proud of the final product, I’m just such a fan of them as humans. Go have a listen if you need to feel like everything is fresh and possible, and go see them live if you want to dance and swoon over some dreamy babes."