Breaking the Record with Roan Yellowthorn, Part 9: Artwork

Breaking The Record 2020
Jackie McLean of the indie band Roan Yellowthorn grants us an inside look at the making of an album from start to finish in her ‘Breaking The Record’ column.
Stream: “Sacrifice” – Roan Yellowthorn




I hope everyone is doing ok this week. Things have been a little bit crazy at my house for the past few days. Luckily, we’re all feeling healthy. I know that’s not the case for everyone. We have all been staying inside as much as possible and, on the rare occasion that I go to the grocery store, it feels increasingly anxiety-producing. I’ve started using the disinfectant wipes on the cart handle. I have thin black gloves that I wear in winter and I’ve been wearing them any time I go out. It’s hard to imagine things going back to normal. A new normal, maybe.

Against this landscape, a million things are happening. One of them is that I am raising two kids who are home all the time now. That part is pretty nice. My partner is home all the time now, too, because his day job as a teacher is now being performed remotely. I’m appreciating all of the extra time. It’s a very grounding experience to be home together with nowhere else to go. I have to admit I’m enjoying the immersive experience of spending this much time with my family. I know it’s something that may not happen again on this scale, and it most definitely won’t be repeated in this specific era of our family life. I’m doing my best to stay present and thankful.

The other thing that’s happening is that we’re making a record.

Just jumping into the Breaking The Record series documenting the making of our album from start to finish? Read part 1 here!



We recorded the record in February with producer John Agnello, John did the mixes a few weeks ago, he sent the mixes to Greg Calbri for mastering, and we got the masters back just a few days ago. Let me just say, the masters sound amazing. I can’t believe this is our album. I’m so proud of all of the work that went into it. It was a collaborative effort. I’m so proud of what we made.

Since the album is done (hardly can even believe it), the next steps are not directly music-related but moreso music-inspired. And we’re working on my favorite part: art!

Roan Yellowthorn untitled design

Roan Yellowthorn untitled design



I have some degree of synesthesia. For me, this means that emotions and feelings are associated with very specific colors. There is also an overlap in my mind between numbers, sounds, colors, and words. When it comes to designing artwork, the color part is most applicable. From the start of making this album, I’ve had very specific color association to the music.

For this album, we ultimately need to have artwork for three singles and an album cover. That’s four art pieces in total. We will also need photos for PR, photos for the back and inside of the physical album, and graphics for social media platforms. We will also need some short, moving graphics for certain things like album teasers and Instagram posts.

The first thing I did was work with my team at Blue Elan Records to create a mood board to capture the elements of design and color that I wanted to incorporate into the artwork. Once we had the mood board, we used it as reference in conversations about concept for artwork.

Next, we had some new photos taken. I coordinated with a local professional photographer, Damian Battinelli whose work I really admire and we set up a photo session at his studio (with the stipulation that we’d stay 6 feet apart the whole time!) He was able to do the session with very short notice and I was so thankful to him for that.

We had a 4+ hour session and ended up getting over 300 photos.

Roan Yellowthorn

Roan Yellowthorn



Once we got the photos back and selected the images for each single and for the cover. We used the mood board and got to work on the first piece – artwork for the first single.

This artwork is important because it will the tone for the whole release. We’re taking a lot of care to make it right. The pieces that follow will be aesthetically similar to it, part of a series, and I want to make sure everything feels coherent. So much of making an album is creating a universe and the artwork is another expression of the raw material of that universe.

We’re just about done with the artwork for the first single and then we’ll be well on our way.

I’m excited to see how everything will look. It feels good to be making something.

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Sacrifice - Roan Yellowthorn

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