Obtaining the commission from the client after a successful pitch, artist Luke Choice – head of Velvet Spectrum studio – has steadily built a reputation for providing highly charged graphics for music industry clients.
Choice shares his creative expertise in applying Photoshop and 3D, how he draws inspiration during the pre-process concept stages, and how you too can approach clients to become a successful designer in this industry.
Artist: Luke Choice / www.velvetspectrum.com
AP: To kick off, can you explain how you obtained this commission?
Luke Choice: My first album pitch for Ministry of Sound Australia came about through my portfolio on Myspace back in 2007. The Clubbers Guide artwork was also a pitch to begin with, but when there wasn’t a specific concept that was hitting the mark from any of the contributing artists, based on the strong relationship I have with the client, it was thrown to me to be the one to develop the artwork further.
AP: When you received this project, what were your first thoughts?
Luke Choice: There were at least six completely separate initial concepts, ranging from neon-coloured stalagmites mimicking soundwaves, to a turntable made from traditional Aztec patterns. The aim of the Clubbers Guide series is to define the forthcoming year in electronic music; therefore the artwork needs to have the same impact on design trends. The final product was the only option that was straight typography.
AP: Tell us about any revisions that had to be made during production.
Luke Choice: Once the final concept was decided on, it then became a matter of tweaking the hierarchy of the logo, typography and small copy. There were also multiple revisions to the tightness of the cropping on the typography, the amount of reflection in the typography and also the way to house the Ministry of Sound logo within the artwork. Getting the angle of the type was important to ensure legibility.
AP: What was your experience with the art director on this project?
Luke Choice: I work very closely with the marketing manager at Ministry of Sound during the development process on all projects. The brief on this album was wide open with little direction, which led to the multiple initial concepts. There are a number of albums in production at any one time and sometimes the client will rely on me to really drive the concept development, which can be a great time to experiment with new ideas that find a way into future artwork.
AP: What inspired the style of the final design?
Luke Choice: Prior to learning CINEMA 4D, I had illustrated and rendered some ribbon typography for Ministry of Sound using Photoshop. The client was concerned that it may be too feminine for their target audience but loved the treatment, so I tried to create a similar typographic piece that would have a better connection with the market. A large percentage of music sales are digital these days, so it’s important to make the most of the online thumbnails; hence the vibrant colours and large cropped typography.
AP: How did Photoshop help you to complete the effects in this project?
Luke Choice: The majority of my portfolio has been created in Photoshop, but only recently I’ve been developing my 3D skills in CINEMA 4D. Every job still passes through a Photoshop post render. With images being rendered in RGB, there is a need for colour correction in order for the printed CYMK artwork to maintain the vibrancy I was after. I find that the discrepancies in realistic artwork will be what make it all the more believable. So as 3D can be quite rigid once rendered, in order to maintain the realism, I would randomly blur and smudge the edges and overlapping corners. The Curves adjustment layer is my go-to when it comes to tweaking the contrast of an image. I find it the easiest way to control the dark-to-light balance.
AP: What advice would you give to others looking to work on a similar commission?
Luke Choice: Having a strong online presence is very important. I actually received a separate commission from a design agency in the Bahrain as a result of publishing the Clubbers Guide artwork to my Behance portfolio. It can be time consuming to update the multiple areas online, but it is the best way to get your work seen and build your reputation within the design community.
AP: Would you change anything in hindsight?
Luke Choice: At the time of this project I was living in Cambodia and therefore was working from a different time-zone, which led to fewer hours in conversation with the client. In retrospect it would have been advantageous to compile some reference material with ideas for possible executions, and present those in person to the client, but unfortunately this wasn’t feasible for me at the time. Overall I was extremely pleased with the final product and would simply look to concentrate on streamlining the initial concept development stage in the future.