Creating cover art for Airship

Black and white photographs of the Hindenburg airship
My moodboard for the Airship album cover art (Images: Wikipedia)

Finding a way to make it happen

Early on in the Airship project, I drew up rough ideas for the cover art. I thought the best solution would be to illustrate what I pictured when I conceptualised the music: a gigantic airship in midair, hovering above a crowd. Originally, I wanted the cover to have an illustrative feel, as if taken from a children’s book. But, the costs involved in commissioning an illustrator squashed that idea. I then thought of doing the illustration myself, but I am hopelessly out of practice and it will take a long time to develop a suitable style. Stock photography was another possibility. I thought I’d create a composite of various images. But, vintage imagery of airships are prohibitively expensive. So, I turned to the public domain and put together a collection of images I could use without running the risk of copyright infringement.

Mood board magic

I like working with mood boards. I even use them when I conceptualise music. It can be anything from a single image to an elaborate collection of pictures, music, sound clips and video—whatever sparks the imagination and sets the tone for the project. It informs my decisions and gives context to my ideas. And yet, as much as I like to work with mood boards, I didn’t create one for the Airship cover art. The concept grew out of impromptu digital “sketches”. Today, I essentially reverse-engineered a mood board using the public domain images. Even though I’ve already settled on a final concept and layout, the mood board helps me flesh out the idea, conceptually. It makes a big difference to how I think about what I am creating.

Abstract nostalgia

The best public domain images I found were of the Hindenburg; undoubtedly, the most famous airship of all time—a Titanic of the sky! Its proportions, shape and lines are the stuff of aviation dreams. When I look at the Hindenburg mood board, I am inspired! I look at the images and am filled with awe at its enormousness: 245 metres long and 43.7 metres high, it was the length of an ocean liner and the height of a 13-story building! That is something I very much want to convey on the cover. Then there is the black and white photography, symbolic of a bygone era, a nostalgic element I also want to include. I am going to take the cover art in an abstract direction. It leaves a little more to the imagination, which is better than being literal, at least in this instance—something I also tried to do with the music. I’ll post drafts of the cover, soon.


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