Band and DIY Record Label • 2014 to Present
Aside from my 'real job', I am also the lead singer-songwriter and rhythm guitar in a moderately successful & critically-acclaimed indie power pop band called Telethon! We've made four full length LPs and an EP in a little over five years of being a band. Partly out of necessity and partly for fun, I founded a record label called Halloween Records with my bandmates to put out our own music and, nowadays, other peoples' music, too.
In addition to writing/singing/playing the music, I've handled almost all of the art direction, layout design, package & merch design, project management, video creation, social media, illustration, graphic design, packing, shipping, ordering, customer service, and much more for each and every one of our releases so far (examples in the gallery at the bottom of the page). It has taught me holistic end-to-end product design and how an idea becomes reality in both the digital space and the physical space. Making & releasing records is, in many ways, an exercise in Experience Design, Project Management, Storytelling, PR, and Customer Engagement.
When I started a scrappy little DIY band in late 2014, did I expect to ever put it on this portfolio site? Nope! But, as it turns out, I'm very proud of how far we've come and this stuff belongs here just as much as any other design project I've worked on.
Telethon's latest album, 2019's 'Hard Pop' is the album I think we're all the proudest of. It's still pretty fresh, but making it was a crazy & fun creative process the likes of which I'd not encountered before.
To put it concisely, I blew the whole thing up and started anew about one month before recording. Painting myself into that corner and working my way out by constraint and necessity was intense, but also invigorating. In personal pursuits like this, I think that sort of creative stress can lead to some of the best results.
These are a few of Telethon's records...
"The Grand Spontanean"
Telethon's 2017 album "The Grand Spontanean" is a 90 minute, 30 track, five act rock opera about modern technology, relationships, mental health, and the apocalypse. It took a ton of effort to write, rehearse, organize, record, and eventually release. I handled most of it -- including the deluxe CD and Vinyl release, which included a 46-page Playbill I designed and had printed.
People liked it! It made a number of year-end 'Best Of' lists and really moved the needle for us as a band. Pitchfork called it "tuneful and stupefyingly ambitious", the Shepherd Express called it a "magnum opus" and compared it to Ulysses and Berlin Alexanderplatz... huh?!?!?
Telethon's 2018 EP "Modern Abrasive" is a little 22-minute record of power pop character studies.
I wrote each song from the perspective of a different unnamed person. In these songs, I tried to find universality in the specifics while maintaining a sense of mystery.
We also recorded this one entirely in-house, as opposed to at a professional music studio. This was not only free (huzzah!), but it was also educative.
Here is a very detailed and exceptionally kind review of the album from a music writer who really 'got what we were going for', so to speak.
Gallery of Stuff!
(I did all of the artwork, layout, packaging design, graphic design, etc. for these goods --
except for the things specifically called out in the captions)
I created the assets and oversaw the production of all of these (illustration, art direction, layout, graphic design, etc.), except in instances where otherwise stated!
The front of the Grand Spontanean deluxe vinyl set.
The inside gatefold of the Grand Spontanean vinyl. It's meant to look like an ancient website, which makes a lot more sense in the context of the album :)
The back of the Grand Spontanean vinyl.
The three pink, green, and clear vinyl that comprise the Grand Spontanean deluxe vinyl set. Two 12"s and a 7", one Act per side, holding a total of 86 minutes of music!
Front of the 12" insert of the Grand Spontanean vinyl. The computer was an old Windows 95 icon, not drawn by me.
Back of the 12" insert of the Grand Spontanean vinyl. The photo used is of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. The logo at the top was handwritten by Danie Feld.
For the CD release of the Grand Spontanean, I designed this box set that is somewhere between 90s big box PC games and the longboxes that certain CDs used to come in. We assembled and packed each one with two CDs, a handwritten note, a Playbill (see next slides), and more. We sold out of our first run and had to make more :)
Perhaps more of an effort than making the actual album itself, I designed this 46-page 'Slaybill' to hold the liner notes and lyrics for the album. Each song got its own artwork, with a number of other pages in there as well. People were stoked to get this thing.
I handled the layout and design of each Playbill page, although we commissioned or sourced some of the pages to other artists, etc. This particular photo was found on the internet, then all chopped & doctored up by me.
Some more pages of the Playbill. This was an old encyclopedia illustration of a brain that I digitized.
More Playbill pages. This was an original illustration by me!
More Playbill pages. The photo on the right was sourced from Shutterstock.
Playbill pages, again. The photo in the background on the left was sourced from Google, where the right is a scanned and stylized page from a Franz Kafka story collection that I further edited.
The last pages of the Playbill. The illustration on the top of the left page was sourced and digitized from an old encyclopedia.
I handled the art direction of the newest Telethon album 'Hard Pop'. The album's moody front cover photo was a found promo photo of Disneyland's House of the Future, taken in 1957. I adjusted the colors, cleaned it all up, and drew/added the logo at the top.
The innersleeve to Telethon's 2019 album 'Hard Pop'. I drew/wrote this and laid it all out. I wanted it to evoke the warm, stark feeling of opening up a DIY zine. It also had to convey a ton of info! Thank god for the Procreate iPad app and lots of layers.
Sometimes during an album's promotional push, you gotta churn out content in a hurry. The final single, 'Wanderparty', from the Telethon album Hard Pop was set to debut on a Friday, and our plans to film a music video for it had fallen through. So that Tuesday, I picked my brain as to how I could solve the problem and decided to open up my sketchbook and illustrate little scenes for every line in the song. I digitized 'em, added some light animation, and voila: We had a lyric video! Link below.
We commissioned a photographer named Dallas Thompson to use this awesome photograph.
The 'Telethon' logo was drawn by Mikaela Palermo and the handwriting of the tracks was done by Danie Feld.
Turned my laptop-with-the-Transamerica-Pyramid-busting-through-it logo from the Grand Spontanean album cover into cute little enamel pins and sold 'em for $3 a pop. Or gave them away.
The actual 10" vinyl is a yellow opaque base with a opaque green 'color-in-color' effect that turned out very otherwordly and pretty looking.
The innersleeve of the Modern Abrasive vinyl. The only thing I didn't do here was take the photo of us -- Jacob Hardy did that.
The front of the Citrosis vinyl. Illustration is sourced from an 1800s encyclopedia. Digitized and colored by me.
The back of the Citrosis vinyl!
I think this may be some of our prettiest vinyl. The actual 12" vinyl of Citrosis is translucent orange with an opaque red 'splatter' mixed in, given a Blood Orange effect (which ties directly into some of the album's lyrics)
One of Halloween Records' first forays into releasing an album that wasn't made by one of us. This is Barely March's debut album 'Marely Barch', which got a 7.5 review on Pitchfork thank you very much! :) The solo musician that comprises Barely March, Chris Keough, did the design for this one but I assembled it to be made into vinyl.
Back cover of the Barely March vinyl. Again, Chris Keough did the design of this.
The opaque beige Barely March 12" vinyl in all its glory. Again, I handled the actual production of this package whereas Chris Keough did most of the illustration/writing.
The innersleeve of the Barely March vinyl. I handled layout and design, although the words are those of Chris Keough :)
I had baseball caps made of the Halloween Records logo I drew. Two colors. Both sold out! Here's maroon.
I had baseball caps made of the Halloween Records logo I drew. Two colors. Both sold out! Here's the khaki/teal variant.
A shirt design I made that's become somewhat emblematic. We've done about 10-12 different variants on this shirt. I also press all the shirts myself using my heat press machine -- a talent passed down to me by my dad.
I drew this illustration. It sold out and now that I think about it, we should really make more. Who doesn't love a good 3/4 sleeve tee?
Close-up of a Studio Ghibli inspired Telethon logo that I drew with a bunch of cute little soot sprites. If you don't know what soot sprites are, go watch the films "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro" RIGHT NOW!