See a different side to Bráulio in this collaboration for Westerman’s album artwork
The New York-based artist and designer reflects on a fruitful collaboration and why putting too much pressure on yourself is “a terrible way of doing things”.
- Jyni Ong
- 10 June 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
In Bráulio Amado’s latest project, the New York-based It’s Nice That favourite has lent his creative hand to Westerman, whose debut album is now available. Bráulio worked closely alongside the artist to create a world for the music and album artwork to live harmoniously side by side. The work includes an exclusive abstract art-booklet brimming with Bráulio’s illustrations, which we offer up in this article today.
On how Bráulio came to work with Westerman, he tells us, “I’m a big fan of Bullion and I think I first heard Westerman through him, right after he released his EP Ark in 2018.” Bráulio was immediately “in love” with his voice and style, and soon after, Will – the man behind Westerman – reached out to Bráulio and the pair met for a drink. Not long after, he started working on the album’s art.
“Will had lots of ideas and I was into all of them,” Bráulio says, on kickstarting the creative process. Westerman referenced a couple of Bráulio’s previous musical collaborations; his artwork for Frank Ocean and Roisin Murphy specifically. Both these endeavours featured “messed up/treated photographs and type”, a slightly different take on the designer’s signature aesthetic based in illustration.
On a mood board put together by Westerman, Bráulio noted some photos of mirrors that stood out to him. “After the first few sketches, we quickly focused on that as a concept as it connected well with the album title Your Hero Is Not Dead. In turn, the cover reads like someone trying to see their own reflection or “the hero” in the pared-back cover, and the viewer can see a smudgy reflection of themselves when the sleeve is held in front of them. To add a hint of playfulness, as “it’s definitely supposed to be an uplifting cover”, Bráulio incorporated colourful hand-rendered type to appear down the side of the artwork.
For Bráulio, however, the real challenge in this project was working on something he admired so much. “Honestly, I was (and still am) in such awe of the record,” he says. “It’s honestly one of the best things I have heard in a while and I loved it so much that I really struggled to work on it.” Putting “too much pressure” on himself to deliver something equally special visually, in retrospect, Bráulio notes, “that’s always a terrible way of doing things.” Going back and forth between all parties involved in the album’s release, he took extra care to stay true to Westerman’s own vision.
Westerman had a colour in mind for each song on the album, which Bráulio combined with a unique illustration representing the song. “Doing my own interpretation of the songs felt like I was ruining it a bit,” he says, “so I had Will tell me what to draw. I have to say I tried too many versions, styles, sketches… and hated all of them.” At the time, Bráulio found himself stuck outside the US, having some visa immigration issues, “so I felt like a mess,” he recalls. But eventually, he landed on a style of drawing that’s quite different from the style he’s widely known for.
Pivoting towards a more DIY aesthetic evident in the scratchy lines of Bráulio’s handiwork, a new style the designer brands as “sort of bad and crude?”, this new stylistic venture was an unexpected but welcome addition to the portfolio. “I actually look at what I did and don’t really see it as my own work (besides the type, of course), which actually makes me quite happy,” he reflects. “A lot of times, I work on an album for so long that when it’s finally out, I don’t want to look or listen to it ever again. I wanted to feel different with this one, and I do.”
A project fundamentally all about the music, the art booklet also features more of Bráulio and Westerman’s collaboration. Filled with drawings influenced by the songs by both creatives, the additional publication provided a blank space to have fun. Some spreads feature text and poems of sorts; others visualise the music in more abstract ways. “I think it completes the album art in such a nice way,” Bráulio says. “Will is such a special and beautiful song writer, I just wanted to make sure the visuals complemented that.”
GalleryBráulio Amado and Westerman: Your Hero is Not Dead, photography by Matt Cheetham and Bráulio Amado
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.