Calling all Deadheads! And also all lovers of great graphic design for album sleeves; we’re not sure there are that many Deadheads reading CB (please, PLEASE write and correct us if we’re wrong).
For the uninitiated, a Deadhead is a superfan of seminal and bonkers counterculture rock ground The Grateful Dead. Formed in California in 1965 by Jerry Garcia (who died in 1995), the band become renowned for their psychedelic predilections in both music and drug consumption, and as such, their visual output from record sleeves to sets and outfits was gorgeously colourful, lurid and body patterned.
“It’s a project I’m pretty proud of,” says agency partner Justin Colt. “Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National made it all possible, and brought together a bunch of their favourite musicians to compose 59 tracks.”
These were brought together into a five CD boxset and a ten LP boxset, being sold with the proceeds raised given to HIV/Aids awareness and support charity the Red Hot Organization. The Collected Works was responsible for all the art direction, identity, packaging, print, motion and web design on the project.
“The Day of the Dead design system is a modern reinterpretation of the Dead’s iconography, lyrics and related imagery,” Colt explains. “Throughout the identity we use a combination of oil and water textures (referencing backing visuals of live Grateful Dead shows), and hand-drawn illustrations created by the incredibly talented Gary Panter.
“This creates an expandable system that works across all the packaging–and is also flexible enough to adapt to web, motion and apparel design. The imagery may or may not require the viewer to be on LSD to get the full effect. But you didn’t hear that from us.”