Sept. 9, 2013
The artwork for Rumspringa was done by the design studio Hvass & Hannibal, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The studio is made up of Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal who are also responsible for, among numerous other projects, the artwork and art direction for every Efterklang release/performance since their E.P ‘Under Giant Trees.’
I had gotten to know both Nan Na and Sofie through Efterklang and was already a huge fan of their work before we talked about working together. I relayed to them my initial ideas behind the record (Which you can read here), specifically my thoughts regarding transitions. As I finished the record I began to see it as something that existed in an in between place, or somewhere suspended in time. Relating to the art for the album I had this vague idea/image of something that was very rigid, mathematical, and logical evolving and unraveling into something more disjointed and chaotic. Something that was unresolved, unanswered, in transition and left open.
Artistically, I loved the idea of having something that maybe felt homemade, old, textured, and gritty. I also wanted to play with the idea of trying to recreate something modern with older techniques. Obviously, a lot of modern graphic design, especially with the aid of computers, creates images that are impossible to recreate using archaic methods. However, I loved the idea of trying anyway because I felt that in being forced into those more limited older approaches, something spontaneous and amazing could happen.
Nan Na and Sofie came back to me with the idea of making a quilt, basing it on traditional Amish patterns. They had already begun, experimenting with a couple of different materials. Eventually we decided on fabric, using colors that were more modern to create a juxtaposition. You can see how the actual quilt looked in the video below:
After the quilt was designed and made, Nan Na & Sofie played with a few different ideas, some involving folding the quilt to create new patterns:
They also tried a more abstract approach by overlaying and chopping up images of the quilt and placing them into new shapes all together:
After going back and forth a few times, we finally landed on what would become the final cover. I wanted it to look and feel older, like something dug up from the ground or something that had been left outside too long so Nan Na & Sofie set about aging the quilt. The idea was to portray something rigid and structured starting to unravel and be pulled apart. Something that could be both beautiful and a little bit tragic at the same time.
In keeping with the handmade approach, we decided that the lyrics and credits would be handwritten. More traditional fonts didn’t seem to sit right next to the fabric and seemed disconnected from the ideas of the album. Nan Na and Sofie sent over a test of how the lyrics would look all written out, with each song being in a different style. We eventually settled on a combination of ‘A Native’ and ‘Honeysuckle’:
Once the cover had been chosen we moved on to what would become the interior art. We had the idea of doing a poster, somehow incorporating the cover art, but also making it more abstract. I also had the phrase ‘The kids are alright & their neon burns bright’ floating around from somewhere. I loved that the line could be read both sincerely and sarcastically, and it seemed to fit really well with the album concept and the colors of the record.
All great album art, I feel, becomes a part of the music somehow. It manages to embody the audio inside in some way. For me, what Nan Na and Sofie did married itself to the record immediately and once I saw it, it became a perfect symbolic closing to the process of making the album. The colors, textures, and process of how it was made seemed to coexist perfectly in the musical world I had tried to create. They were able to draw out something beautiful and inspiring from the music and also created a piece that could stand on its own, and something that I still love.
For more info on Nan Na and Sofie’s work visit: Hvass&Hannibal.com
Next week: Releasing & Touring Rumspringa