“Do you wanna lose? Do you wanna be on the wall of losers? I drove you all the way here.”—Taylor Swift to Ed Sheeran when he attempted to give up an ice cream eating contest at Mystics in Rhode Island (7/29/13)
If you had carte blanche to design a tour book for Taylor Swift’s RED tour, what would you do?
We were thrilled to have the opportunity to do just that, and since we did all the creative for Taylor Swift’s Speak Now Tour Book two years ago, we knew that this would be a large, exciting undertaking. This was especially true for The RED Tour in that this year the book was going to be compiled entirely of live photographs. This meant that famed photographer Christie Goodwin would film Taylor Swift’s first few shows, then send us the photos so we could push out design as fast as possible and have books approved and printed for the next tour dates.
We prepared our tour book designs as best we could before we even knew what shots we would have to use. Taylor had her final dress rehearsals and first live show the second week of March. Then, ST8MNT received the first batch of photos the next morning and immediately began! There were many proofs for this project, but after all of the debating, adjustments, and decision-making had come to an end, a beautiful book was born.
The RED Tour book consists of 44 full-bleed pages of stunning live RED concert shots and full-size, removable poster. It features a two-panel gate fold cover complete with pigment-matte foil and embossing detail. Check out our process pics below from start to finish!
(1) PLAN OF ACTION, MAP IT OUT:
Here you’ll see Erica organizing our camp so that we can go ahead and plan out flow from one spread to the next and how the tour book will be assembled for the production team. Oh, and if you noticed something here–you’re very observant. Yes, the 44 page book actually started off with only 36. We added the other eight pages much later on in the process.
(2) ORGANIZING PHOTOS & LAYOUT DESIGN:
Bethany and Austin are helping to organize all of the images from Taylor’s first performances. By breaking up all of the photos by song and using contact sheets, we can see what is working, what’s not, and what additional shots we think we need.
Then it’s off to the races for Austin, Alyssa, Aaron, and Greg to get through the first round of changes and prep a new proof to go out!
(3) SPREAD ‘EM:
We printed our tour book designs several times over the course of designing so that we could look at each spread with fresh eyes. It’s amazing what happens between the image on your computer and the image that comes from the printer. Good thing our work table was big enough!
(4) ADDING A TICKET:
Halfway through the process, the idea came from 13 Management to add a special VIP Ticket that would be tacked into the front fold of the book. Everyone loves a little something extra. Josh and Aaron whipped this beauty up in a jiff. It’s hand inserted into the book and secured with a small glue dot.
(5) PRODUCTION & PRESS CHECKS:
Just like with the RED coffee table collector’s book, The RED Tour book is fully comprised of images that need to be color-checked every time a new print comes off the press. Our printers did a great job with color-balancing all of the images for this project, but these sheets could always use little more RED!
Then came the specialty production details of pigment-matte foil and embossing for the cover. Check out how using these techniques begins to transform the project.
(6) FINAL PRODUCT:
And the grand finale! Check out our portfolio for more images of the book here! To purchase this book, click here.
The big day finally arrived for the debut release of RED, Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album. We felt privileged to have Taylor return to us for her followup to Speak Now.
Initially, we sat down with Taylor and her team to look over selected photos from photographer Sarah Barlow, to discuss RED’s direction. Taylor was interested in a cover and look that would evoke the abundance of emotions, stories, and visuals associated with the color “red”. She explains it here (full version in the album):
In constructing the cover we kept trying different images of Taylor and were trying to keep the entire thing pretty simple (there were many deliberative meetings and design hours looking over a large number of different cover directions). Sadly we failed to capture any shots for the Hovering Art Directors tumblr. Finally we landed on this compelling shot of Taylor in a black hat that cast a shadow across her eyes. Then we set “RED” and “Taylor Swift” in Tungsten. Nice and clean. We then utilized this approach with the “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” cover. End result was natural stripped down photography; For the record identity, a simple solid sans, Tungsten; and a specific pantone red.
After listening to the album (an instant hit, go take a listen now)…we began to think about the direction for the rest of the artwork. Taylor wanted a more refined modern style to complement the fresh sound. We knew with the new album we needed to craft an overarching brand that would extend beyond just the album to future items that would keep consistency in the branding design.
So with all of this in mind, I began drafting a few different explorations for the rest of the packaging. I wanted to create a look that would allow the photography, type, and limited color palate to evoke the attitude of each song. We landed on a layout utilizing close ups, geometric angles and shapes that would lend well to Tungsten’s design. This also gave the booklet spreads an engaging sense of movement. Sarah Barlow captured a lot of gorgeous shots of Taylor which needed to breathe or portray a certain attitude. With the song title treatments, I paired italicized and underlined type to standard caps type, which usually one would refrain from, but with the 45 degree angles it gave a strong sense of command to action words like “NEVER EVER” in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” for example. Here are some of the spreads below.
The end result of the full length’s artwork was something that captured RED’s spectrum of emotions from carefree to tragedy to heartbreak to passionate red.
Along with an exclusive Target edition with different cover art, a Starbucks version, and a Costco version, we also designed a 96 page Zinepak exclusive to Walmart. This features the cd with lyric booklet spreads, her bio, facts, awards, twitter posts, instagram and personal photos, tour summaries, guitar pics, and a poster.
We were also asked to develop merchandise to be sold in various retail giants and online, for the launch of RED. Buy it here, if you don’t see it in a store near you.
Below is an animation design we did for the RED promotional spot, which further utilizes those brand goals we set for all of the items associated with RED.
Looking back, the entire experience with all of the items to create for the launch of RED was a fairly large undertaking. But we can’t tell you how exciting it was to work on so many different aspects of the RED brand. Honestly, its pretty amazing to think of how many people will be holding this in their hands in this week, the cover flashing across their ipod or iphone screens. ((4 million copies sold as of today 10/23)) And to see the t-shirts, zinepaks, jewelcases lining the shelves, with the promotional video dancing in the background. It makes our creative team proud and want to stop for just a few seconds.