1. People Watching, Khaleel

  2. People Watching, Khaleel

  3. People Watching, Khaleel

  4. People Watching, Khaleel

  5. People Watching, Khaleel

  6. People Watching, Khaleel

  7. Limb, Justin Clayton

  8. Limb, Justin Clayton

  9. Limb, Justin Clayton

  10. Limb, Justin Clayton

  11. Limb, Justin Clayton

  12. Limb, Justin Clayton

  13. Limb, Justin Clayton

  14. Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb

  15. Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb

  16. Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb

  17. Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb

Design Notes: Joelle Lau

Music Packaging with the ADC 93rd Annual Awards Jury Member

2762b8fFor me, graphic design has always been a subconscious interplay between art, communication, and visual persuasion. Growing up as the daughter of a San Franciscan artist, I was influenced by my father’s idealism and the idea that art and design are much like music, a delicate balance of craft, color and composition that become notes and rhythm through evocative visual expression.

The personal expression or personality of the musician and their thought behind an album title is usually what influences my approach to the design. An initial meeting and personal interaction between musician and designer is key to crafting a visual expression that supports the lyrical message and tone of an album.

I tend to approach music design with elements of fine art, interest and composition that touch the viewer’s emotions with the same engagement as music. Designing for music was always a natural path in my career and the most creatively rewarding. It’s a copacetic balance of “graphic” artist visually representing the “music” artist with intriguing visuals that have a captivating reach and that can entertain visually while the listener is engaged audibly.

Title as Concept

The Khaleel album title People Watching influenced the location and style of photography as well as the design of its package. The music duo was guerrilla photographed in downtown Los Angeles watching random passersby for a realism of scenes. A collaboration with artist Lawrence Carroll brought stunning delicate layers of mixed media to the design. Hand crafted typography, sketches and layers of found art and postcards evoked a personal “travel journal” feel.

An Artist’s Influence

Justin Clayton’s album title Limb influenced the cropping of the artist’s arm that ultimately became the unexpected cover design. But it was Justin’s exquisite personality that influenced the evocative tone of the visual design. Subtle and becoming an intimate extension of himself, Justin and the interiors from his Los Angeles flat were photographed and transformed into a thought provoking design.

Environment and Audience 

The urban concept, logo design and album cover for Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb was a direct response to the artist’s desire to reach inner city youth culture. The originator of hip-hop gospel, Brent Jones’ purpose was to reach a younger, urban audience in an unexpected way by combining rap and R&B with a gospel choir. The distressed logo was created by merging actual found elements of graffiti, barbed wire and grunge that were collected around the cover location, an abandoned train track underneath an East Los Angeles bridge.


Joelle is a Creative Director at NBC Universal and founding partner of Ideologie.

Look out for more from music package designers in the ADC community throughout the month as we continue our investigation of Musical Communication!