Stunning Artwork for John Mayer’s Born and Raised

This morning a message from Jacques Le Bailly, designer of my Favourite Typeface of 2012, led me to a just released video by British DP, director and film maker Danny Cooke. The short film documents the creation of the cover artwork for John Mayer’s album Born and Raised and single Queen of California, as well as two unique reverse glass panels hand-crafted by contemporary sign writer and glass gilder David A. Smith. By combining pencil sketching with digital techniques, and then executing his designs in reverse glass decoration and ornate gilding Smith achieves amazingly detailed and truly unique works of art.

The Making of John Mayer’s ‘Born & Raised’ Artwork from Danny Cooketechniques on Vimeo.

David A. Smith is a traditional sign-writer/designer specialising in high-quality ornamental hand-crafted reverse glass signs and decorative silvered and gilded mirrors. He was commissioned by Sony Music/Columbia Records, New York to design the album cover for John Mayer. This was because Born and Raised was delayed from its original release date by Mayer’s throat granulomas, giving the American pop and blues rock musician the opportunity to keep looking for an artist that could produce authentic-looking turn-of-the-century, trade-card styled artwork for its sleeve. Danny Cooke captured the merging of these two artistic visions, resulting in this wonderful short film.

David A Smith – Sign Artist from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

David A Smith – Elaborate Victorian Style Mirror from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

This is the second time Danny Cooke documents David A. Smith’s practice; two year’s ago David A Smith – Sign Artist was Vimeo’s staff pick. That original documentary was followed up by a mini-short focusing on an Elaborate Victorian Style Mirror created by Smith.

The album sleeve artwork for Born and Raised. Click the image to examine it in full detail.

The sleeve artwork for the single Queen Of California

Going over the list of nominees and the winner in the category Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards – published here two weeks ago – I am baffled that this cover was overlooked. Strictly speaking you could dismiss it as nostalgia, but the artwork is highly appropriate, and apart from the impressive craft and attention to detail it is also very accomplished and impeccably designed, with gorgeous hand-lettering. Not that I ever took those Grammies too seriously, but still…

As we can’t all be experts, there are a number of digital fonts in the Victorian, Wild West and Three-Dimensional Type FontLists that approximate this typographic style.

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  1. Wow. Now thats beauty.

    Posted by felix sockwell on Feb. 28, 2013
  2. it´s right to say, this is BRILLIANT!!!!!

    Posted by Valeria on Feb. 28, 2013
  3. The attention to detail at the pencil stage alone is astounding and the detail in the finished piece is simply stunning. I hope to see more of his work.

    Posted by Sean on Mar. 1, 2013
  4. WOW, this is out of reach for almost the 99% of all artistic beings.

    Posted by Jaime Moreno on Mar. 8, 2013
  5. a wonderful crafted practice of victoriana excesss, the overused bombardment of motifs i enjoy looking at today in contrast to the cleaner more focused reductionist design industries that followed. great pencilling worthy of a computer games cover.

    Posted by hugo on Mar. 17, 2013

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