Monday, April 11, 2005

REM's 25th Anniversary

April 5th is a momentous day on the REM music calendar, this year especially. It marks REM's 25th Anniversary. It was on that date in 1980 that the 4 members first took the stage together at a birthday party in Athens Georgia at the old church they lived in. Ethan from Murmurs came up with the idea of doing a website for the occasion that would act like a kind of guestbook where people could leave a message for the band. I designed the site in Photoshop based on a simple outline from Ethan, and Ethan with help from Mihkel in Estonia put the site together. You can check it out at The site has proved very popular and is even getting a mention on the official REM web page.

While designing the site it went through a few incarnations until I got a look I liked. I wanted to come up with some iconic design that could be used to promote the site and perhaps be used on merchandise. One of the first elements I came up with (that I liked so much I used on pretty much every concept) was a silhouette of the band. I didn't want to use a photo because a photo can be dated too easily and as the site was celebrating the bands 25 year history I thought a silhouette would be more timeless.

Originally the design consisted of only the current three members of the band in the red but every time I looked at it I got a glimmer of guilt for leaving Bill Berry out. He was a huge influence of the band for 17 years and since the site was a tribute to the bands entire history I decided to add him. To give the sense that he was part of the band but apart I added Bill in a different colour (mustard) behind the other 3 members. This decision would make the typographical design that I had to do next a lot easier. I wanted to use an elongated typeface and decided on one I love called Placard. I needed 3 colours to separate the 3 word in the title because I wasn't using spaces. The 2 colours I had used for the silhouette and grey worked very well.

I came up with some body copy just as filler for the design, I was quite happy to see that Ethan kept almost all of it for the final design:

It has been a long and interesting road for REM, the band that started in a church in Athens, GA on April 5, 1980. After forging a fan base by non-stop touring and never compromising on their creative goal, REM worked their way to the top of the music world. REM's music speaks to countless people around the world. On this their 25th anniversary, it's time for their fans to give back to them. Leave your images and messages here as a way to say, "Thank you REM."

I recently designed all the new merchandise for Murmurs and thought it would be fantastic to add a range of limited edition products for the anniversary. You can check out the range of new products here I must say the stuff is selling really well. Thanks to all those people who are buying them. The proceeds from sales go to support Murmurs and more projects such as this.

Another thing I wanted to do for the site was provide some wallpapers people could download so they could have something commemorative on there desktops. I had got a decent number of photos from a variety of European show taken by Robert Chapman. The photos had a fantastic blurred, almost multiple expose on them, and as I found out when I tried to take photos at an REM show it was due to the camera requiring a long expose and therefore the lighting giving a small time-lapse effect. Anyway, a lot were too blurry to use but some where pure art and I wanted to share them on a wider scale so this was perfect.


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