Avers from my hometown of Richmond, VA released their debut album titled Empty Light on iTunes yesterday. It made it to iTunes Alternative New and Noteworthy list, very well-deserved indeed. I've already had the pleasure of giving it a few dozen listens as I got a delightful little sneak peak for research purposes...for designing it's cover! It was an exceptional honor to be asked to work on such a special project as a debut album (not to mention a lot of pressure). After a number of rounds and various experimentation the simplest idea ended up being the coolest (at least I thought so—and so did the band.) The title Empty Light reminded me of certain Sunday mornings I spend lazily in my apartment with a cup of coffee. They are my single day to really get up at my leisure and sit by my window to reflect, listen, and just be. I have a number of ornate rugs on my floor, and in the morning the light shines through my windows masking out their patterns in playful patches diffused across my floor.
My first thought was to try and capture this sense of illumination, reflection and even melancholy in some abstract design and the band had also pointed to similar reference. But after a couple tests something wasn't quite coming together. Roger and I were discussing the idea and we started doing a little more research. We discovered the term "Empty Light" is also a term used in medicine when determining brain death with cerebral radionuclide angiography. The lack of intercranial blood flow shows up in the radiograph image as an empty white space due to the lack of blood flow and is referred to as an "empty light bulb." The real medical images of this were eerie and beautiful—perfect really as it—both sad and romantic, all at once. How fitting too that I often feel like an empty vessel myself when immersed in the experience of listening to a piece music. We'd found our hook and one of my favorite tools of watercolor seemed like a perfect fit to simply execute the concept. Avers had asked that we use color, so instead of a black and white design like I may have otherwise been inclined to use, we went with a glowing red and pinks direction with hints of blues and greens.
Below—some early watercolor tests. I actually really love the simplicity of the left green and grey version, but the band had concerns about it feeling too dark and gothic. Understandable, as I had also worked on their last EP cover release which was also just simple black and white using their logo. The right was a more psychedelic approach which I also was digging. The compromise was blending the two and meeting somewhere in the middle.
Below—some initial abstract, plant-like, organic approaches I tried in the very beginning. While I liked their design, pattern, and complexity, they weren't feeling right for the album.