Matt Lowery waking

I had the pleasure of designing album artwork with Matt Lowery for his Mystery Circles release. Though the core of every project is based on trust and my relationships, the processes for each project differs wildly based on a number of factors:

Who am I working with? Matt is a peer and a friend.

Who is the work for? Matt’s listeners, who are also my peers and friends.

What constraints are there? Matt asked for no type on the cover - a massive challenge for me as typography is one of my favorite tools.

What medium will the work ultimately be delivered in? The release was to be both digital and physical. This question is important because it has implications with regard to all the technical, backend stuff (like working in 300 DPI or not.)

Matt and I started with a phone call. It was about an hour or so. I wandered around the desert while he shared context to his work. The conversation moved to Discord:

Matt Lowery Discord

I spent plenty of quality time with the music. This sounds obvious but worth noting I listened before putting image to medium. Sometimes I will not listen to the release and sometimes I will make images during the first listen. Matt’s approach to the album was measured and thoughtful. I wanted to reciprocate.

I did plenty of sketching and studies. We explored working with AI to create images. I’m still quite fond of this one:

Matt Lowery AI

I also like trying mockups of the piece in situ - here we see what an early draft looks like on the Mystery Circles Bandcamp:

Matt Lowery Mockups

Eventually we landed on watercolors. Here we see the painting that was selected for our final. It is one of about 20. It was important to me to keep this particular piece as “pure” as possible - there is a purity to Matt’s music on this release. While I would normally go wild in Photoshop and collage different paintings together, here I instead took a single high-resolution photograph. Inverted the colors. Adjusted levels. Cleaned up a few cat hairs. Done.

Matt Lowery Raw

All in it was probably around 50 hours of work. This includes conversations, painting, digital work, shower thoughts, dream puzzles, and final pre-press tasks.

I’m proud of the work we did together.