Jake Spila

SEEING MUSIC is a book of visual style guides created for musical genres based off of album covers by artists within those genres. The book explores visual identity in music, and how album artwork within a genre can intentionally or unintentionally contribute to a greater shared identity.

How do you see music? SEEING MUSIC is about the visual identities of musical genres. My hypothesis is that genre has visual manifestations in album artwork. I am viewing musical genres as brand identities, and analyzing the design choices of album covers to create brand style guides for them. Style guides are traditionally a tool for forward thinking; a source of identity for you to draw reference from. I am working in reverse, analyzing the visual similarities of a genre in order to create a unifying identity.

This is ironic in a way, because genre isn’t a definite thing, but instead a vague technique of categorization. By deconstructing the stylistic choices made within a genre, my goal was to create definitive identity. I have taken certain liberties in my genre coverage, focusing on examples that support the formation of a visual identity. The book explores the genres of Soul, Punk, and Reggae. Each genre section includes visual analysis’ of three album covers, with a summary at the end of the section.

Jake Spila 
Jake Spila is a freelance graphic designer located in Chicago, IL.

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Thank you to our Capstone volunteers, including students Leslie Ramirez, Chris Keramidas, Caroline Schlegel, and faculty member Laura Rossi García. Special thanks to 2020–21 Capstone faculty Shiro Akiyoshi, Nathan Matteson, and Heather Snyder Quinn.

College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design
243 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago IL 60604

Graphic Design Capstone Showcase 2020 and 2021
Advisors: Shiro Akiyoshi, Nathan  Matteson, and Heather Snyder Quinn