Talking Dreads CD/Vinyl Album Cover Art & Marketing

An album campaign that got Jamaica talking.

Talking Dreads is a project fronted by Jamaican singer/songwriter, Mystic Bowie, a prolific reggae artist and former member of both Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club.  His management team commissioned me to design single & album cover art for the debut album. This included an animated pack shot and supporting marketing materials.

The brief:

To create high-value single & album cover art, but to position Mystic as a broader artist, avoiding some of the common visual tropes associated with reggae artists.

The results:

Positive reception to the artwork from both the artist and management.


Cover art design
CD packaging artwork
Animated pack shot
Digital banner ads
Poster template
Digital pack shot creation

Speaking to the masses.

The brief from management, was to create iconic imagery which would speak to Mystic’s stature as a recording artist for over 30 years, across continents and genres.

With this in mind, I presented a raft of iconic covers as a round of image research, including covers from artists such as Jimmy Cliff, Major Laser and Lauryn Hill – artists that also transcended their respective genres.

With feedback from the team in tow, this led to an initial round of cover designs for the single, Once in a Lifetime (a cover version of the iconic Talking Heads track).

The initial concepts

The singles.

Once all options were presented to the team, the resounding front-runner was the collage-based option (4 from above). This would eventually form the basis of the final single cover, and the creative direction for the album artwork moving forward.

My big idea was the concept of layers. I felt that Mystic is a fascinating character with a multi-faceted history, and the artwork should reflect that. Using layered imagery to produce a somewhat tactile feel, and to reveal elements to his persona and values.

With the typography I used a combination of expressive typefaces – most notably for the title, which had a kinetic, dynamic character to it, and felt like it didn’t belong to any one genre.

The styling was used to create pack shots for both the Once In A Lifetime and Life During Wartime singles.


The album.

For the album cover art itself, I kept the concept consistent to the singles. I opted for a full shot of Mystic against a distressed background revealing the Lion of Judah.

I then developed the full packaging for both CD and album. For the vinyl, the plan was for a 180g, double clear-vinyl LP.

For the printed inner sleeves, I wanted the packaging to have a personal connection to the subject, so I created 4 images that built upon layering concept.

I requested imagery from Mystic’s personal archive – old photos that captured his journey and evolution as an artist, and used that to create the collages that made up the inner sleeves.

The CD was to be a 3-panel digipack, from which I was able to adapt the vinyl album cover art.


Banner ads.

To support the launch dates of both single and album, the respective artwork was adapted to banner ads and social media headers and skins.



As requested by the client, I also adapted the artwork to create a minimal, animated pack shot for the Once in a Lifetime single.

Client: Talking Dreads LLCDate: Summer 2017