suggested I create a page explaining my thought processes behind the artwork for the re-designed site for those interested, so I'll see if I can do it without boring everyone. I'll only talk about the artwork that I altered in a major way.
page for a list of the original photographers.
From this new website's inception, I envisioned a way to share that connection and passion for the artwork with the viewers without losing the ability to support the information-heavy content. I wanted the viewer, be it casual or die-hard fan, to feel as though they were stepping into another world. Pulling that off was another story. But because I hand-coded virtually the entire site, I had complete control on everything that was seen, and that has been both a blessing and a curse. It was overwhelming (and clearly time-consuming), but in the end I hope that everyone leaves feeling they have a better sense of the music just through the imagery. A girl can dream.
Below are some descriptions of what each Era artwork means to me, and why I chose to represent it the way I did. In case anyone is interested, that is. I have no idea honestly if this is interesting. But let's give it a whirl.
Myra Ellen Era
What came to mind when attempting to capture this era was her innocence, inexperience, and freshness. I wanted something that looked hand-drawn with faded colors to emote nostalgia, and bring in some small feminine touches. The words emanating from her are lyrics from her first self-penned single, "Baltimore"
Y Kant Tori Read Era
Anyone who has seen the artwork from this era knows that the visuals aren't necessarily...flattering. So I wanted to create something that lit the sentimental torch this record might carry for over-the-top 80's sound. A sort of homage to the bright colors and graffiti art of that decade.
Little Earthquakes Era
This design took me by far the longest out of all of them to work out. I created a very complicated -- and entirely different looking -- design for this era some years back, and it took me a while to realize it was total bunk. Maybe nice to look at on some levels, but not practical. Later I found a photo of nested boxes
in an Etsy shop and fell in love with the idea of turning it into a watercolor. The videos montage inside the separate boxes (which should appear once a day in most desktop browsers at the very least) is one of the oldest parts of the site that I decided to keep. I created it during the time I was investing way too much time and energy on the visuals, but for her very first solo album, perhaps in hindsight it was fitting.
Under the Pink Era
This design also had a few incarnations, but the spirit of it has remained constant. I wanted it to feel crystalline and clear, with a focus on shifting light and dappled colors. The artwork on this album is some of my favorite, and the most recent incarnation had me wanting to turn it into its own glass-cut world.
Boys for Pele Era
The Boys for Pele design was very important to me as it is my favorite album. For the years I worked on this website I fantasized about turning Tori into some kind of Goddess of Fire, given the many references Tori had made in interviews about stealing fire from her relationships and how this record was about deciding to create her own. Not to mention the obvious allusion to the volcano Pele. But I didn't feel comfortable attempting it until recently. I hope the spirit of it resonates, anyway.
From the Choirgirl Hotel Era
This is easily my 2nd favorite album (sometimes in the top spot depending on the day). The lyrics make quite a few references to water, and in the chaos of what is happening to her at various stages, she seems to take great refuge there. "There's a sea secret in me"..."I guess I'm an underwater thing so I can't take it personally". Even the body scans on the album artwork are reminiscent to me of water flow. So, with some thought to counterpoint Pele's fire, I chose to represent her as the water creature I have always envisioned her to be while I'm listening to this stunning record.
To Venus and Back Era
This era naturally lent itself to space and the cosmos, with Venus spinning behind Tori. I'd like to think of the different constellations as representations of the various "sonic shapes" Tori so often spoke about with this record.
Strange Little Girls Era
Tori assuming different identities on this record is intriguing to me -- as she morphs herself into almost unrecognizable forms -- in addition to the idea that any story may have another viewpoint or voice unheard. The colors in this artwork are very neutral, so I enjoyed attempting something bold with the imagery to represent some of the musical choices she made in this dark and haunting record.
Scarlet's Walk Era
One of my favorite albums by Tori, I let the stunning imagery speak for itself - walking into a desert sunset with her windswept hair as the sky.
The Beekeeper Era
Regardless of my personal feelings about the Beekeeper as an album, the concept behind it has rich potential visually. The honeycomb, gardens, bugs, birds, and bees -- a lot of fun to play with. There are themes on the record about seeding, blossoming, and luxuriating in the senses which I tried to represent.
A Piano: The Collection Era
As far as boxed sets go, this has to be one of the most creatively put together I've personally seen - and I don't believe that opinion is just bias toward Tori. I wanted the feeling of the piano being fertile ground for creativity, for ideas and images and stories and other worlds, sprouting Tori's entire career.
Fade to Red Era
When I create a design, I like to experiment with something other than the obvious. Even though the reds are present, I wanted to convey her "fading" in a slightly different way. I like the idea of progressing from watercolors to a focused image to spheres of the videos springing from her mind.
American Doll Posse Era
This album is heavily political, and the banner of the flag running over Tori's face focuses expesses that tone for me. I also like adding a bit of grunge and messiness to the scene, something I think the original artwork featuring the dolls only hinted at.
Live at Montreux Era
There aren't a lot of images to choose from on this album / video, but the images which are present are very captivating to me. I think Tori at this stage is quite wonderful. I enjoyed turning a grainy video screenshot of her second performance into something hopefully evoking retro sensibilities.
Midwinter Graces Era
If any of my designs were guilty pleasures, this one would be it. I just so enjoy the idea of her being represented as the Snow Queen, or some kind of magical winter creature. I approach altering Tori's likeness this drastically very cautiously, as we've all seen examples of not-so-great manipulations of her images looking like a weird something-rather. But this design was just so unapologetically fun to do.
From Russia with Love Era
Here I attempted to re-create the piano design which is revealed once you open this lovely box set. I wanted music and flourishes spilling out from every direection, and Tori in Russia behind it with a mysterious glance.
Night of Hunters Era
There is nothing subtle about this record, and I purposely created the artwork to match. Many of the lyrics refer to the woman in this story (Tori) as fire, the man as water, and the "Night" being a vision quest in which she is visited by shape-shifters who reveal that various facets of her relationship are ancient and cyclical. So yeah, no shortage of inspiration here.
Gold Dust Era
"We held gold dust in our hand" is a lyric from the titular song of this record, which I wanted to capture quite literally (and hopefully with some magic).
Unrepentant Geraldines Era
The imagery on this album was the best of any since Scarlet in my opinion, and this photo of her standing captured such strength, poise, and a definite sense of being unapologetic. I wanted to represent the great works of art Tori spoke about as her inspiration on the songs by making herself exploding with color and paint -- or being formed by the paint, depending on your perspective.
With this design I was exploring the themes of duality in nature as it is reflected in our own being, which the album Native Invader so deftly reveals. I adore the “double exposure” technique and hoped it could capture a sense of the power and beauty of the music.
The photos by C. Conti are some of my favorite ever taken of Tori. I wanted something that captured her magic, her relationship with the piano, and how we fans sort of see her: as someone so full of creative artistry that she can help heal and bring inspiration into people's lives with her art.