Emily Crawford Album

Overview: Despite the current prevalence of digital media, many musical artists have begun releasing records on vinyl again. Fans are clamoring for special-edition, physical CDs. There’s something about unwrapping a new album and listening to it while reading liner notes or song lyrics. The best print packaging concepts serve as companions to the music itself. Flash back to a decade ago, when singer-songwriter Emily Crawford asked me to design the packaging for her 2007 album, Give Me Life. iTunes was in its adolescence. Our culture hadn’t yet reached the fully digital stage. Emily needed a CD that could take her career to the next level, and its design was an essential element.

One element I loved in the final product was that that she is almost never seen looking at the viewer—it’s a coy detail of her personality poured into the album.

Challenge: Every musician striving for success reaches a point where he or she has to make a decision: Play a few gigs a month? Or double-down and take a bigger risk? In 2007, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Emily Crawford reached that moment of truth. She had been writing music and playing the guitar since she was 13. After high school, she studied musical theater at the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy, but eventually realized her future wasn’t on the stages of Broadway. Instead, she turned her attention to songwriting and performing. Before long, she had gathered enough songs for a full-length album. Give Me Life was to be Emily’s introduction to the music world—a huge step along the path toward a meaningful career and the life she dreamed of. Some of the top images from our photo shoot.

Solution: How do you convey the personality of an artist through design and photography? Emily’s independent country-pop approach is strengthened by her clear, warm voice—and the album art needed to reflect those characteristics. The first step was a photo shoot to communicate the emotion of her work in a way that also quietly reflected the Americana genre that categorized her music. Shot against rustic backgrounds by Jelani Memory, it was essential to capture her coy smile and determination in a series of photos. These were combined with images of old, weathered luggage, plus ornate filigree details that added a vintage touch. One element I loved was her relationship to the viewer in these photos. On the front cover, she’s looking to the side, and she rarely looks the viewer in the eye throughout the packaging.

Result: Emily’s well-received debut introduced her music to the broader musical world, launching her career. Still a full-time singer and songwriter and now based in Nashville, Emily released her second album, Loving Like Fools, in 2015.