There is an unsung anthem behind every track, and you probably don’t even realize it. It’s not even one that you hear; it’s completely visual. One of the most important parts of releasing a tune is getting the right album artwork. I have seen graphic artists stress over the album art for weeks, trying out different styles, getting sent back edits from the producer or label, desperately meeting deadlines and pushing everything else aside to get the perfect look for someone’s next big sound, which makes complete sense because it is a pretty vital part when releasing a tune. It makes newcomers click on the tune, it looks better when it’s being promoted, and it’s just plain professional to have a well-rounded package when you release something. So why is it that hardly anyone gives these hard working graphic designers the credit they deserve? Can you even imagine the EDM world without their awe-inspiring visuals?
One graphic designer who deserves a heavy nod of approval is Vince Peersman. Peersman has worked on sleeves for Rottun Records, Simplify, Chase & Status, Skream, Pendulum, Brooks Brothers, and the list goes on and on. He has also done quite a number of artworks for EDM.com itself. Hailing from Belgium, Peersman is an expert in what he does, and you definitely recognize his work when you see it. You probably just never knew he was the one behind those captivating creations. I personally find his artwork stunning; the dark and apocalyptic undertones really get me off. That’s the kind of thing that’s going to make me click on a track.
Peersman has a long standing love for electronic music, which one can obviously see when they get to know the guy. After talking with him for a while, I was quite impressed by his long history in the scene. Peersman started DJing when he was 10 years old and got his first gig as a graphic designer at TopFloor when he was 16. You can check out his portfolio here: Vince Peersman's online portfolio. By 20, he had branched off and was doing the album artwork for many big name DnB artists, to the point that Peersman told me that “one day I walked into a record store and 70% of the DnB album artwork on the walls were my own designs.” Peersman took a break for a bit to work on more corporate projects, but now he’s back in full force, while running Philosophy Recordings.
While looking at his work it is easy to see the masonic and historical symbolism threaded throughout his pieces. They push the boundaries of mere album covers into the realm of real iconic pieces of art. In Peersman’s own words, “These underlying and inherent recognition between pieces strengthens the bonds people have with the covers,” which is obvious when looking at his vast portfolio that spans over 1,500 covers created to date.
Another group that deserve some attention is Ego by Design, the boys behind Ego Thieves. They have done all the graphic work for Pop Dub and Dubfluential. Additionally, they have created loads of designs for Borgore’s Buygore label. You’ve seen their slick colorful, candy-like style hundred of times. Did you know they were behind it?
While I’m handing out prizes for recognition, I think everyone should stop and appreciate the work of Marc Construct, who is not only the founder of J’aime Le Dubstep and Highonbeats.com, but also does the artwork for Valhalla, Virus 1334 and Future Forest Festival. He’s one of the most versatile graphic designers on the East Coast and has dominated the scene in Montreal, one of the most cultural cities in Canada. Construct has done it all: DJ, producer, promoter, podcaster, and his designs are impeccable.
One more to throw out there is Chris Halderman, the one behind classic works for OWSLA and RAW Records, and his dark and eerie designs will have your skin crawling.
I don’t think many people will disagree when I say that there’s not enough recognition that goes out to our graphic designers in the electronic music industry. With our rapidly disintegrating attention span, we need artists like Peersman to reel us back in and appreciate the art in a more contemporary way. These are the people who pique your interest with a well-designed poster for a show. They are the artists who get you to click on a track from a producer you might not be familiar with, and they are the ones who influence what you feel when you hear that track play with the audio-visual connection.
Graphic designers are essential players in the electronic dance music scene, but I see more and more people skimming over them as if they were just there and never actually stopping to appreciate them. I feel like this is something that needs to change because if we can give so much time and effort to the musical side, then how can we let these artist go so wholly unrecognized? Grade 3 science fair projects get more recognition than these unsung heroes of the scene. Can you even imagine the EDM scene without the visuals? Chew on that for a second.
Written by Gabe Gilker