So Jonathan Barnbrook’s design for the new David Bowie album has garnered a HUGE amount of attention. The Guardian calls it a “masterstroke“, whatever that means. I’m still undecided about it. On one hand it appeals to my taste for minimalism and cleverness, on the other it strikes me as a potentially empty gesture. I say potentially because – true to Hard Format’s mission – I’m reserving judgement until I’ve seen the complete design. What will the spine, the reverse, the insides look like? Will it be a digipak, a jewel-case or something else?
Of course one (or both) eye(s) will have been kept firmly on the thinner than a micron experience of the digital JPG. If so, I’ll declare myself not a great fan. With that as everything, it’s playful, but likely to be ultimately unsatisfying – particularly when married to that first single which sounds to these ears too much like a tired extension of Heathen’s remit. In fact, in that light the design reads as a potentially damning critique of the album’s content. Heathen, however, is a Barnbrook design I love. I’ve been meaning to feature it here for ages and even asked to borrow a copy from the designer, but didn’t get a reply.
So the jury’s out here for the moment. I think it’s entirely valid – it’s yet one more example of the wondrousness of the blank canvas that is the album cover. And it’s great to see so much discussion of an album design.
In the meantime, this is fun: Make Your Own David Bowie Album Cover. I even like some of these designs more and perhaps that’s the point…