Behind The Work: Campaign Design for musician, sk the novelist
Behind The Work is an in-depth exploration of the thought process and reasoning - good and bad - that goes into some of our favorite projects.
The Creative Direction
Earlier this year, we were tasked with creating a digital marketing campaign for Raleigh-based musician Sk the Novelist. The project included photoshoots, design for the album and single covers, an EPK, and a logo, all to be released intermittently throughout the summer and into the fall for the promotion of Sk's new album, I Tried To Take You With Me.
Our goal was to create a cohesive collection of images and designs that spoke to SK's sensibilities as an established musician while showcasing his evolution into a higher echelon of artistry and professionalism. While Sk already had a preferred aesthetic, there was a lack of connectivity between that aesthetic and the narrative journey it was meant to serve. As a creative agency, we wanted Sk and the viewer to be fully immersed in the story he was telling in his album, with photography and designs that worked together.
To achieve this, we had to speak to the almost contemplative plea of the album title while encompassing the harder edges of the songs. In our conversations, I Tried To Take You With Me represented an elevation into an almost alien-like world of unknown possibilities and heights with visceral and visually striking songs. This meant our location for the photoshoot had to captivate audiences and pull them into a space they otherwise would not be privy to while also satisfying Sk's identity as an artist. Outside of a typical studio environment, we chose an abandoned factory outside of Asheville that offered an expansive setting in which multiple looks could be achieved in seemingly different places while maintaining unity.
We knew that creative versatility would reign supreme early in the ideation phase. By making photography a malleable narrative centerpiece of this project, we could also ensure the visual language would be served in the design stage.
The setting elicits a number of thoughts that harken back to the album title and songs. The ponderous expressions quietly question those who didn't embark on this journey with Sk. The transformative effect of being basked in the dappled light, an almost supernatural ascension into otherworldly planes of existence. A transference of time that shows a world Sk left behind. The destructive havoc and devastation felt through each stabbing line of the album. The photography was conceived to capture the nuance of this project and be open to interpretation.
The Cover Designs
For the various cover designs, it was our goal to capture the essence of the album in its entirety. In our initial conversations diving into the themes of this project, the relation it has to films from the golden age of cinema was a concept that rose to the surface and branched into many interpretations.
The main cover art is meant to encompass the effortless and almost nonchalant nature of Sk's delivery while immersed in the unique space created by stylized multi-layered vocals and a sometimes serious subject matter on top of luscious production. With room to breathe, the type interacts perfectly with the symmetrical nature of the photo. The minimalism works harmoniously throughout this cover as the yellow type complements the dominant yellow tones of the photography and plays nicely with the green and brown hues. The literal interpretation of the title, I Tried To Take You With Me, is represented by the globe on the main cover design. That idea repeats itself throughout the rollout by highlighting various methods of travel. Other thematic subjects can be spotted in the covers, such as the influence of film, as seen in the design for 81 Days, meant to be an homage to Léon: The Professional as an expression of Sk's lethal abilities.
The next piece of material to be created was the EPK. One of our main goals with this campaign's rollout was to place SK's name in a different echelon of musicians and establish him as a premier artist out of North Carolina. With the release of music comes the expectation of live performances, but to book the same venues would be a stagnation of growth, so a press kit was necessary. We kept it minimal and clean, only showcasing pertinent information to keep it digestible and easy to locate for the viewer. When the PDF for the press kit is opened, the links are clickable, keeping in line with the user-friendly nature of the design.
For Sk's logo, we focused on type and designed a wordmark that spoke to his aesthetic preferences based on the inspiration we discussed. Our goal was to inject Sk's personality as an artist into the logo as much as possible. An essential factor was the logo remaining autonomous from what's typical of other hip-hop logos because Sk is not your run-of-the-mill hip-hop artist. We also needed to convey Sk's energy as an artist, so we ensured that the letters interacted uniquely to maintain that spirit. Another key was translating his versatility to the logo's design, and we were able to accomplish that by creating the "Sk" and "No" to stand as a monogram and read "Sk No. 1". This is a clear nod to Pete Rock and CL Smooth's Soul Brother #1, highlighting Sk's knowledge and reverence for hip-hop.
Being able to realize a final product in full collaboration with Sk, all while being allowed to steer the creative direction from start to finish, was a great experience. This rollout has the Show And Tale Creative fingerprint all over it, and though there were thoughtful conversations and compromises made on both ends, they were never made at the risk of our vision and only to enhance the creative synergy. The expectation following this rollout is that our care and dedication to the visual aesthetic of I Tried To Take You With Me, and Sk's brand as a whole, will bring new opportunities to the artist and catapult him into a higher tier of musicianship and professionalism. We'll keep records of the listenership and gather opinions on the visual language as the release process progresses.