Art direction, graphics, and design for Japanese producer’s first post-classical release

Yaffle/Universal Music Japan/Deutsche GrammophonYear:
Art Direction, Graphics, Layout & Typography
Yaffle photography by ROB Walbers
Illustration for digital singles by IK 

Yaffle, After the chaos

Yaffle (Yuki Kojima) is primarily known for his production work on massive J-pop/R&B hits such as Fujii Kaze’s platinum-certified Love All Serve All, but he is also a classically-trained solo artist. After the chaos is his first release in the post-classical genre, released on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label, bearing the iconic yellow logo. An international record composed and recorded in Iceland and Tokyo with Icelandic, Dutch, and Japanese musicians and vocalists, After the chaos is a pensive meditation on the events of the world—COVID-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and others—and the resulting sense of darkness and helplessness. But the lyrics and music ultimately express hope and the emergence of light—“A hymn to humanity,” as Yaffle writes on his instagram.

For the visual direction, a more subdued approach compared to the usual bright pop sensibility seemed appropriate: the quiet, reflective tone; the theme of darkness and the emergence of light; and the beauty of Iceland all factor into the design direction. I traveled to Iceland in 2013 and was able to see some very distinct instances of Aurora Borealis, and that served as the visual metaphor: turbulent, colorful, irregular light emerging from darkness.

I was lucky to work with beautiful assets: moody, dramatic photographs from Rob Walbers on the CD, and haunting, nuanced illustrations by IK for the digital singles.  The “aurora” graphics are created from manipulating and combining Rob Walbers’ photos of Yaffle, IK’s artwork, and my own photos from that trip. Simple, elegant typography is quietly classical while the digital graphics push things into the post-classical visual world without quite defaulting to genre conventions.

My aim in applying the graphics to the booklet and jewel case was to extend the listening experience: the lighter colors emerge sequentially when actively revealed by the listener removing the obi, lifting the CD from the tray, and opening the booklet. 

The digital singles’ illustrations explore a narrative of struggle and transcendence, with the layout of all the elements of the album cycle reinforcing their oneness.

You can listen to After the chaos on Apple Music or Spotify, or purchase the CD from Tsutaya, Tower Records Japan, or other retailers.