Graphic designer Judit Musachs talks us through designing credits for music videos
“What I take away from doing credits is that it pushes me to design differently every time,” says Barcelona-based Judit on the practice which has allowed her creativity to flourish.
- Joey Levenson
- 28 July 2021
It’s no secret that the realm of music videos has grown in spades. What was formerly a way to get oneself on to MTV has now evolved into a full-fledged filmic spectacle – a means for artists to portray a creative vision that goes beyond their sonic qualities. As a result, placing credits in a music video has become common practice, and now it’s considered a creative process in and of itself. One graphic designer in particular who is a star in this scene is Barcelona-based Judit Musachs. “Whenever I'm commissioned to design something else, whether that be a branding project, a book or an exhibition, the assignment is very often abstract and devoid of an existing visual universe,” Judit tells It’s Nice That. “But, with videos, it’s different because whenever I start to work on a project, there’s already a draft of the edit and there’s a marked atmosphere that’s been created by the director, which you have to adapt to then translate into typography, colour, composition and movement.”
Getting her start in 2015 after graduating, Judit joined an industry that was already used to placing credits in music videos. Yet, these jobs often fell to editors instead of designers. Judit found this gap to be one where she could fit in, and after being approached by Roger Guàrdia to create credits for the Battles’ music video The Yabba, Judit found it to be a viable career path. “The collaboration became a full-fledged job and, as that shift took place, clients, in turn, started to expect more from me.”
For Judit, designing credits is a unique medium that is always pushing her creativity. Judit’s credits are certainly just that: illustrative and mesmerising displays of typography and graphics that are always freshly unique and well-thought-out. “I do my best not to produce boring design, and I place a lot of emphasis on colour,” she says. “When a project begins I normally begin by creating mood boards and loose image associations that help me to approach the design, often trying to strike an interesting atmosphere that I may feel matches that of the project.” What’s most interesting is that Judit doesn’t prescribe herself to a signature style so much as a signature process. For the graphic designer, it’s all about what “happens by accumulation,” and constantly working the sum of many separate materials that lead her to a final realised piece. “Since childhood, I have been fascinated by illustrated atlases, and I believe the combination of images continues to be a helpful medium through which to approach abstract ideas,” Judit explains. “Ultimately I make my design decisions based on emotions, and the result, I want to believe, reflects that in the form of a design that is more emotional than rational.”
But how exactly does a graphic designer end up being commissioned to design credits for a music video? “Either the production company or the director get in touch with me when the first edit of the video has been prepared, and that’s usually sometime before the sound and colour are done,” Judit tells us. “Then, I talk to the director about their vision and conceptual reasoning of the video, I ask them if they imagine anything specific, and little by little we start to narrow the ideas down.” It’s these small details that can often go overlooked, but which Judit places great emphasis on. “It bears mentioning that even though credits perform an informative function, they sometimes help to wrap up the story,” she says. “So, it’s sensible to try to find out what’s convenient for the piece, and whether or not the credits can help to provide the video’s finishing strokes.”
What comes next is usually Judit fine-combing through the video to take note of the aesthetics that should inform the credits, and slowly but surely, test different ideas and styles with the director’s approval. “Sometimes the final product results from a purely typographic design laid out on a background that’s been filmed specifically for that sequence,” Judit says. “But sometimes there’s no purpose-built footage and we have to create it.” It’s a role that requires liaising between both production and post-production teams, making sure credits are approved for the video’s overall atmosphere and then mesh well with the post-production effects. “If the credits are only a sequence of consecutive slides, it’s not necessary to go deep into post,” she adds. “But if a bespoke background or a specific animation are needed, we launch into a negotiation process with the team that will bring the design to life so that everyone can have their say.”
One of Judit’s biggest collaborators is Canada, the creative production company based between Barcelona, London, and Los Angeles. It’s lead her to work twice on Rosalía’s videos: Malamente and Pienso En Tu Mirá, both huge international successes with millions of views on YouTube. Malamente shows Judit’s typography skills at work with a brush lettering “loosely inspired by the burning brands that cattle breeders inflict on bulls.” Pienso En Tu Mirá features ingeniously-envisioned text-chain style credits, appearing as if coming from Rosalía’s phone herself.
Of course, though, Judit is not only a graphic designer with work in music videos. “In the credits for a video on the university Parsons, The New School (directed by Roger Guàrdia, produced by Park Pictures, 2020), we engaged in an experimentation process that led to re-recording parts of the video by sliding the progress bar forward and backward at great speed and introducing individual credits in between, at different sizes and always striving to make them readable.” It’s this impressive creative capability for the most diverse palette of commissions that keep Judit a designer-in-demand. “And in the identity for Absolute Beginners (a series of exhibitions curated by Rafa Barber Cortell at CentroCentro, 2019-2020), I created a set of illustrations to imagine a past, present and future inspired by the ways in which the origins of the world have historically been fictionalised,” she adds. All this and more, as just this last month the fashion brand Hood By Air released a video with Judit’s collaboration.
“At the moment I’m very happy doing what I do, as I feel like my work has a good diversity and I don’t necessarily need to look further than what I already do,” Judit tells us. It’s a fair statement and one that is undeniable upon looking at her portfolio. Diversity of design is at the core of Judit’s work – she’s a designer who seems to always be on the lookout for ways to bring projects to life with a creative typographic or illustrative touch. “I do however realise that it’s very precarious to work as a designer in Spain,” she says. “Even though the industry shows signs of growth, design continues to be undervalued and the arts continue to lack funding.” Ultimately, with this in mind, Judit goes forward with the hope “to work with more resources, and to continue collaborating with other designers with whom I can team up, as this has proven to be one of the most effective paths to learn and grow.”
Judit Musachs: El libro de la magia blanca (Copyright © Judit Musachs, 2019)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.