Monday, 11 February 2013


Today we received a new live brief that required us to enter a competition called 'Secret 7'. In this competition entrants are asked to create a 7inch vinyl sleeve, there is a range of musicians to choose from each with a different ethos and style. There is no limitations regarding media or production other than it must fit the correct dimensions and be submitted on time. I will first review each of the artists to get a better idea of their musical style, as this will affect the form the outcome takes.  


Firstly, I reviewed the information given for each artist  on Secret Seven's website, it gave more information on the competition but only briefly covered each artist. I will conduct further research into each one to help me get an idea of what each artist stands for, I will then select the one most relevant to my interests as a designer. Our choices of artists consists of;
Public Enemy.Elton John.Nas.Jessie Ware.Hiam.Laura Marling.Nick Drake.


Public Enemy is an American rap group that formed in 1982, the group consists of five members; 

Chuck D 
Flavor Flav 
Khari Wynn 
DJ Lord 
Professor Griff

The group produce hip hop that consists of funky/jazzy beats that are created by a production team of Dj's, and politically motivated lyrics that are rapped by an MC. The group have become well known due to the content of their lyrics that often cover controversial topics such as, the time it takes for emergency response vehicles to arrive at an emergency in the black community compared to the white.

 Due to the lyrical content of Public Enemy's lyrics their audience was  predominately African-American. However, since   their conception Public Enemy have been growing in popularity, and now have a fan base which spanns the globe. 

The song 'Harder Than You Think' was used as the song behind the massively publicised Paralympic Games advert, due to the content of the lyrics that aim to 'encourage' and 'motivate' people.  

 Public enemy appeal to me as hip hop is linked to subcultures that I have personal interest in. Moreover, I also find it interesting that the group voice political opinions through their songs.


Sir Elton John is a renowned British singer-song writer. Sir Elton has been writing and producing music for over four decades and has sold over 250million records, making him on of the most successful musicians ever. 

The song 'Bennie and the Jets' first appeared on the 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' Album which was released 40years ago. The song narrates the story of a fictional band called 'Bennie and the Jets' and reflects the greed found within the music industry in the 1970's.

Due to Sir Elton Johns prestige reputation his music has a huge audience. Much like Public Enemy he has fans that span the globe. Therefore, any artwork that is produced needs to be suitable for a large audience.

Finally, despite growing up around Sir Elton's music I have never had interest in it, this is because the music he produces dosen't appeal to my personal taste.


Nas, otherwise know as 'Nasir Bin Oul Dara Jones' is an American rapper. Moreover, Since releasing his first album in 1994 Nas has sold over 13 million records in the Unites States alone and is thought of as one of Americas greatest rappers.

In his new song 'The Don' Nas takes a gritty, gangester approach to his lyrics, rapping about guns, violence, drugs and sex. Its lyrical content is typical of his earlier gangester rap, it has a heavy hitting beat, and flowing lyrics. 

Due to the content of Nas's songs his audience mostly consists of people interested in American rap. Once again, the popularity of the artist means that he has a world wide fan base.

Finally, unlike Nas's fan base I am not a fan of gangster rap. I find lyrics that revolve around guns, girls and drugs boring and unappealing.


Jessica Lois "Jessie" Ware is a British singer-songwriter who recently emerged as an individual artist and has rapidly grown in popularity. For the past few year Ware has been collaborating with artists such as SBTRKT, producing vocals for their tracks.

Her song 'Still Love Me' has influences taken from SBTRKT's music in the form of an electro influence. Singing over the club beat Ware delivers her soft, hypnotic singing. 

The content of Wares work spans many types of music, her song 'Still Love Me' has a n electro/dance influence leaving it open to a large young audience. Due to the type of music she produces, I dont think that older generations will find it appealing.

Finally, this type of music dosent appeal to me, I can listen to it however I find it fast becomes uninteresting.


Firstly, Haim are the first artists featured that aren't from Britain, originally from Los Angeles, Caifornia the band consists of three sisters; Este,  Danielle and Alana. Their music is described as a mixture between folk music and R&B.   

Their song 'Better Off' mixes harmonising singing with a steady drum beat played on the rim and snare of drum. 

Haim produce music which is quite experimentive, as it mixes folk and R&B, therefore it is not suited to everyones taste. Despite this Haim have a started gathering a growing following since they started releasing music in 2012. Due to the content of their music I think their main audience would be people interested in independent, experimentive music. 

Finally, I think that designing a cover for Haim could be an option, due to the experimental content of their music a cover for their song 'Better Off' could be taken in a range of different directions that experiment with media and illustration. 


Laura Marling is a renowned British singer-songwriter. At the age of 22, folk musician Marling has three renowned albums under her belt. The young artist 'won Best Female Solo Artist at the 2011 Brit Awards and was nominated for the same award at the 2012 Brit Awards.'

Laura's song 'The beast' initially beautifully mixes soft guitar and Marling's voice, until a gentle build up drops into electric guitar and drums. The song has many layers, and although it is not to my usual taste was interesting to listen too. 

Marling's music appeals to a large audience as her songs are deep, and easy to listen too. I think that the majority of her fans are female as they can relate to the content of her lyrics. 


Finally, Nick Drake is another British singer-songwriter who tragically overdosed from anti-depressants at the age of 26. Producing only three albums during his lifetime, Drake's work didn't get much recognition until after his death, when his work slowly grew in popularity. 

Drake's song 'Rider on the Wheel' balances his soft voice with harmonizing guitar picking, this mixture makes for a relaxing, easy listen. The song has an almost minimalist feel, as the only sound heard throughout the song is Drake's guitar and voice.

Due to the relaxing nature of Drake's song it appeals to a large audience, both young and old. Personally, I listen to quite a lot of acoustic music and I enjoyed listening to the song. I believe Artwork that is produced for Drake's song should reflect his short life, but also the pleasant nature of his song.


After reviewing the choice of artists I selected an artist of focus so my project can progress.  I decided to choose Public Enemy as my artist of focus for three reasons: they relate to subcultures I am interested in, their music addresses political issues directly and they have history, with over two decades of experience in the music industry. 

The links to subcultures means I can easily relate to the audience and their interests, hiphop is associated with graffiti, breakdancing and freedom of expression. Each of which can influence the cover design.

Moreover, I am interested in world politics and the corruption and greed that is often associated with governments. Public Enemy songs are renowned for addressing these issues head on, which to me is inspiring. Moreover, when designing the cover I will need to consider how the artwork relates to the context of the song.

Finally, Public Enemy have a long history that I could research into. Different elements from the group's history could also influence my design. After selecting Public Enemy as my artist of focus I conducted further research into the group.


After selecting an artist, I created a time management sheet to help me keep my project organised.


Below are the lyrics to Public Enemy's song 'Harder Than You Think'. As the brief requires us to make a cover for a specific song I will analyse the lyrics, the cover should focus on the topics/lyrical content of this song rather than being influenced by other irrelevant factors. I will read through an highlight lyrics that portray the songs meaning as this could be used to influence my cover design. 

Yo, Chuck, what’s the move, man?I was on my way up here to the studio, you know what I’m sayin’?And this brother stopped me and asked me“Yo, what’s up with that brother, Chuckie D, he swear he nice”I said, “Yo, the brother don’t swear he niceHe knows he’s nice, you know what I’m sayin’?

So, Chuck, I got a feeling you’re turning into a Public Enemy, manNow remember that night you was kickin’ to meOn the way out to L.A., [Incomprehensible] and QueensWhile we was in the car on our way to the shotWell, yo, right now, kick the bass for ‘em brothersAnd let ‘em know what goes onFlavour Fav's introduction.

Rolling Stones of the rap game, not braggin’Lips bigger than Jagger, not saggin’Spell it backwards, I’ma leave it at thatThat ain’t got nothin’ to do with rapThis verse is addressing the misuse of the derogatory term 'niggas' within rap songs, essentially having a dig at rappers who use the word in songs. 

Check the facts, expose those catsWho pose as heroes, take advantage of blacksI think this is also addressing rappers who are seen as admirable, but who in fact are taking advantage oftheir fans.Your government’s gangster so cut the crapA war goin’ on so where y’all at?

By the power comes great responsibilityF the police but who’s stoppin’ you from killin’ me?Acknowledging the need for police which is a change from past views.Disasters, fiascoes over a loop by PEIf it’s I instead of we, believe in [Incomprehensible]

Spittin’ riches, bitches, this new thing about snitchesWatch them asses move those ‘em masses switchesHere Chuck D is addressing rappers who rap about money, women and snitches as its what the mass' want to hear.System dissed them but barely missed herMy sole intention’s to save my brothers and sistersHere Chuck D is reiterating his only intention is to help people.

Hard, get up, just like thatEncouraging these rappers to change.Hard, get up, just like thatHard, get up, just like thatHard, get up, just like that

Yeah, that’s right, Chuck, man, that’s what you gotta doYou gotta tell them just like that, you know what I’m sayin’?‘Cause, yo, man, let me tell you a little something, man
These brothers runnin’ around hard hatin’
They get a little jealous, you know what I’m sayin’?Just like that, you know they try to bring you down with ‘emBut, yo, Chuck, you gotta tell ‘em just like that

Screamin’ gangsta, 20 years laterOf course endorsed while consciousness fadedFurther addressing rappers who only rap about being a gangster instead of consciously addressingproblems.New generation’s believin’ them fablesNew generations are influenced by gangster rap.Gangsta boogie on two turntables

Show no love so it’s easy to hate itDesecrated while the coroner waitedAny given Sunday, so where y’all rate it?With slavery, lynching and them drugs infiltrated

I’m like that dawg Chuckie, babyKeep comin’ back to live, love life like I'm crazyKeep it movin’, risin’ to the topDoug Fresh, clean livin’, you don’t stopNo drugs, clean living.

Revolution means change, don’t look at me strangeSo I can’t repeat what other rappers be sayin’Other rappers dont address revolutionary matters.If you don’t stand for something you fall for anythingHarder than you think, it’s a beautiful thing

Hard, get up, just like thatHard, get up, just like thatHard, get up, just like thatHard, get up, just like that

Yeah, that’s right, Chuck, man, that’s what you gotta doYou gotta tell them just like that, you know what I’m sayin’?‘Cause, yo, man, let me tell you a little something, manThese brothers runnin’ around hard hatin’

They get a little jealous, you know what I’m sayin’?Just like that, you know they try to bring you down with ‘emPeople get jealous of success and try to bring you down.But, yo, Chuck, you gotta tell ‘em just like that

So it’s time to leave you a previewSo you too can review what we do20 years in this business, how you sell soul, gee wizTo make it in the music industry you have to sell your soul, however this has been avoided byPublic Enemy.
People bear witness
Thank you for lettin’ us be ourselfSo don’t mind me if I repeat myselfThese simple lines be good for your healthTo keep them crime rhymes on the shelfReiterating his problem with gangster rap.

Live, love life like you just don’t careLive life to the full.5000 leaders never scaredBring the noise, it’s the moment they fearVoice your opinion, there is strength in numbers.Get up, still a beautiful idea

Get up, throw your hands in the airGet up and show no fearGet up if y’all really carePE, 20 years, now get up

Yeah, that’s rightWe’re Public Enemy, number one in New YorkPublic Enemy, number one in PhillyPublic Enemy, number one in D.C.Public Enemy, number one in Cleveland, OhioAll sold with Public Enemy, number one in St. Louis

Public Enemy, number one in New Jersey, hey, FuzzyWe are the Public Enemy, number one in CincinnatiIn a manner we been Public Enemy, number one in ChicagoPublic Enemy, number one in DetroitPublic Enemy, number one in OaklandPublic Enemy, number one in Baltimore

Public Enemy, number one in MiamiPublic Enemy, number one in IndianaPublic Enemy, number one in L.A.All sold with Public Enemy, number one in Alabama, y’allPublic Enemy, number one in TennesseePublic Enemy, number one in MississippiFurther reiterating their success.

Just like thatJust like thatJust like that


After analysing the lyrics to Public Enemy's song 'Harder Than You Think' I think that I have found the meaning behind the song. Since its conception Public Enemy's songs have revolved around evoking social change and achieving social equality. Through politically charged lyrics Chuck D addresses current issues that he thinks are affecting the African-American community. Contrasting the groups thought provoking lyrics are lyrics from artists who primarily focus on gangster rap (rapping about women, money and guns) which is what the lyrical content of 'Harder Than You Think' address'. Chuck D disagrees with this form of rap as it is unimaginative, and glorifies violence to its young influential audience. The song addresses these rappers and encourages them to change and cover more important matters in their songs.  Moreover, in the song Chuck D also raps about how hard work and commitment result in success. 

Moreover, I selected specific lines from the song that had relevance to the songs message, or had relevance to Public Enemy's history.

  • Expose those cats, Who pose as heroes
  • Spittin’ riches, bitches, this new thing about snitches
  • Revolution means change
  • To keep them crime rhymes on the shelf
  • Live, love life like you just don’t care


Next, I started creating ideas generation sheets exploring possible ideas. I made different sheets for ideas relating  to lyrics from the song and Public Enemy in general. I spent a long time generating ideas as I wanted a few strong possible ideas before progressing. This was a different approach than what I had taken in other past projects, where I generated ideas quickly.  This enabled me to think of a few really strong ideas, which I think benefited the outcome of my project and how it progressed. 


I reviewed the ideas that I generated and selected a number of ideas to explore. I selected designs that i thought were a good visual representation of Public Enemy or the meaning of their song 'Harder Than You Think'.

  • Portrait Grid
  • Balaclava 
  • Famous Rappers
  • Revolution Hand & Mic
  • Logo Grid
  • Typographic Piece
  • Clock
  • Iwo Jima
  • Change Poster


Moreover, before I started producing my design sheets to visually explore my ideas I recapped the restrictions of the brief.

After reviewing the design considerations I noticed that text relating to the artist or song title cant be used, in my ideas generation I noted that I could produce a typographic piece realting to the song title. Instead, if i decided to produce a typographic piece I will focus on specific lyrics.

Moreover, I also set myself a restriction of using a limited colour pallet to keep the cost of printing down if reproduced. I also want the chosen color scheme to reflect the messages communicated by the song. 



After creating my design sheets I reviewed my possible outcomes and once again refined my ideas. I chose designs that were individual, and reflected the message of hard work, success and revolution. 


One consideration I set myself was regarding the colours used on the illustration. I wanted to use a limited colour pallet as it was mentioned in one of our recent colour theory lessons that this can improve the aesthetic quality of a piece. Moreover, using a limited amount of colours also keeps printing costs down if the design is reproduced. 


After selecting what I believed to be my strongest design I started producing a digital mock up to present at Fridays criticism. I produced the illustration on illustrator, working from a sketch that I created from my visual variation sheet.
Initial sketch.

After completing the line work for the design I selected my colour pallet. 

There was quite a harsh contrast created by the dark purple colour, as it was so much darker that the orange and reds used, so I decided to change the colour to a brown so it was more subtle and less defined.

I chose to use two colours on the background to give the image more depth and to lead the viewers eye across the composition to the detail of the illustration.

The initial line work that I created was thick and contrasted the colours chosen for the color scheme. I experimented with changing the colour so it was the same as the brown used for the darker parts of the illustration, but it still did not look right. After further experimentation I removed the line work leaving only the colour.

This resulted in a much more aesthetically pleasing piece as the contrasting thick black lines had been removed leaving the detail of the color. 


Today, we had our group criticism, we were first split into small groups where we presented our design sheets and five visual variations. After we presented our ideas and explained how the project was progressing, we then discussed as a group how the outcome could be improved and made suggestions as to how this could be done. 

I presented my work first, showing my design sheets, then visual variations. My designs were well received, especially the 'Iwo Jima' design that I had previously digitally produced. I then received feedback from the group which is shown below. 


  • Explore my favourite visual variations digitally.
  • Produce a digital illustration of the Balaclava design.
  • In my portrait grid design I could consider creating a grid of coloured squares to go behind each of the vector portrits.
  • When creating the grid I could consider using the same color scheme that I used in my 'Iwo Jima' design. 


In the criticism it was mentioned that I should experiment with producing digital versions of my strongest designs picked from my five visual variations. It was suggested that the portrait grid and balaclava designs should be developed as they were the strongest designs other than my 'Iwo Jima' design. 

I decided to develop the balaclava

To create the shape of the balaclava I used vector shapes and combined them using the pathfinder tool.

I experimented with inverting the colours of the design so that it had a black background. The aim of this was to make the illustration more noticeable, as the illustration has a higher contrast on a black background   

I still felt that the design was lacking, so I changed the colours back and added a texture to the balaclava, similar to the one used in my design sheets. 

Experimenting with the scale of the illustration.

I decided not to change the scale of the illustration as it lost detail at that size. I rescaled the image and inverted the colours again. Unfortunately, I couldn't change the colour of the texture used so it was lost when the colours where inverted. 

Finally, after reviewing the design I decided not to develop it any further. Firstly, the designs lack of colour means that it is not visually engaging for the audience, but instead is dull and easy to overlook. Moreover, although the design communicates the rebellious nature of Public Enemy I dont think that it portrays the meaning of the song as well as my other final design.     


Additionally, it was also mentioned in the criticism that my illustration could be improved if the lines were tidied up and made more accurate. I looked at the printed outcome I took to the criticism and circled parts of the illustration I wanted to improve. 


After refining my illustration it was ready for submission, a digital image of the piece can be seen below.


Finally, I submitted my design on the Talenthouse website, I exported a PNG. file of my design and successfully uploaded it to the website.


Firstly, as soon as I had decided what artist I wanted to create the cover for I made my time management sheet. As the brief was only a week long it was important that my project progressed in time for my final to be submitted. The sheet helped me keep my time organised, which in turn gave me time before the deadline to refine my final design.

Moreover, when I was generating ideas I was thinking of the typical straightforward solutions, like Flavour Flavs clock or the revolution hand holding a mic. In this project I spent a lot more time generating ideas, this enabled me to think of a few solid ideas to carry forward to the development stages of the project. This benefited my outcome massively as without spending the extra time generating ideas I would have developed a weak design.

Despite creating a time management sheet I still didn't leave myself with enough time to develop my five visual variations digitally. I think that developing each of the five visual variations would have benefited my project, as the designs could have been visually engaging and aesthetically appropriate after being digitally rendered.

Finally, I am happy with my overall outcome, I think that the illustration is a good representation of the messages communicated by Public Enemy's song.  Moreover, the limited use of colours made the design aesthetically engaging. 


I received an email on the 5th of March that explained the fantastic news that my submission had been successful and was selected by the judges as one of the winners. I sent them the tiff file of my design at 300dpi, in CYMK colour mode so that it could be printed.

This means that my submission will be displayed and sold in the Secret 7 exhibition in London, and I will receive an A3 print of my design accompanied by a certificate of my involvement with the project.

I am really happy that my design was chosen, as it is good exposure and will look fantastic in my portfolio. 

To my surprise my design was also featured in The Guardian.

Below is an image of my design in the exhibition.

No comments:

Post a Comment