Print Productions Case Study 1: James Blake
James Blake is a London based indie folk/soul/ electronic music producer and singer. His self titled album ‘James Blake’ was released on the 4 th February 2011.
This album conforms to an extremely generic convention of an album cover, which is to have the artists name on it, which is key to strengthen the brand identity and image of the artist. However, due to the album being self-titled I’m unsure whether he would have had his name if the album wasn’t self titled, as on his other album covers his name isn’t included, or is hardly visible.
The use of the self titled album name ensures that his name is more recognised, and perhaps creates a more direct and personal effect to the audience, implying that the content of the album is perhaps a personal body of work. On the other hand, the stand alone title is simplistic, perhaps urging the audience to buy the album to ‘see what its about’, which could have been a tactical marketing technique. Due to the editing and style of the image combined with how Blake is turned away from the audience creates a more distant effect. Most artists use direct address in their album covers, looking into the camera to create a more personal relationship with the audience, making them feel closer to the artist. Blake is challenging this convention, which makes him appear disconnected from the audience, however this could be the intention. It is extremely typical for an image of the artist to be included on the album cover, as ultimately, the artist is being promoted as well as the album. The style of that said image is a key factor in creating the brand image. Pop artists tend to have an extremely commercial styled image of themselves for album covers, with glamorous and bold clothes, hair, make up and props and locations reflecting their wealth, for example. If you ignore the editing of this image, you can see that it was clearly a photo of the artist on a white back drop, dressed in a shirt; extremely minimal. Or the same set up, with him turning his face and multiple shots taken at a high speed, capturing motion blur. Either way, the original image would have been simplistic. The colour palette of this image consists of multiple shades of cold blues, whites and greys.
White can connote; light, goodness, purity and cleanliness. It is often used in advertising to create a ‘cleaner image’, suggesting simplicity. Blue can connote; depth, stability, nature (sky and sea), calmness and tranquillity. Lighter blues can often be associated with health, serenity and understanding, whereas darker blues, knowledge, power, strength and seriousness. These colour connotations are all representative of Blake’s artist image and the content of his music, which is all experimental and cathartic, whilst being personal and intimate. After researching the artist more, he is often minimal and low key in his selfpresentation, and often described as introverted and mysterious. Therefore, by using this colour palette in his album cover he is aiding his desired brand/artist identity.
Other elements that add to this mysterious and disconnected artist identity is the use of motion blur photography. This technique creates the perception that he has multiple faces. This implies more depth as ‘different sides’ of him are shown. Furthermore the psycadelic inspired style of the image is surrealistic and almost resembling a hallucination, creating a ‘dream like’ illusion. This creates the idea his music is alternative and far from the mainstream, rejecting this.