We need a replay (君は僕のeverything)

OK, so it’s a Japanese release. But, y’know. It’s SHINee.

SHINEee – The First (2011)

What’s so great about this?

Style change. It’s a j-pop release, but it still has some of that SHINee scribbley-sketchy-doodle and ripped paper styling that turns up in a lot of their CDs. That said, the style seems a lot cleaner than their earlier k-pop albums. It’s becoming less personal and more commercial. It’s still big on odd fonts and random motifs (in this case it involves a rabbit and a slightly creepy clown) but it’s more vector based than hand drawn, although the vectors aren’t all clean cut computerised lines. It’s very boyband-y, but what did I expect from a k-popsicles-gone-to-Japan boyband? It’s still more interesting than a 40 page photobook purely of their faces (though some fans may disagree there).

Other than that it’s very… plaid. The photoshoot theme is another of those “give those kids some random props and see what they do with them”. Don’t get me wrong, I do quite like this album as an object, but it’s not as successful as some of their others in a similar style (like Romeo) or as nicely done as their second Japanese album Boys Meet U (that CD+DVD randomness with it’s prints, patterns and vectors will be mine one day, oh yes).

Do my eyes deceive me, or is that Helvetica for the lyrics? J-pop loves Helvetica, and not just for functional text. I’ll have to do a post on it one day.

Want to see more?

The album comes in a medium format book (almost A5) with the disc held in with a plastic CD clip (down with the tyranny of the foam circle tab!)

Anything to declare?

To-to-to-todoke to-to-to-to your heart.


What’s up?

A little bit of news: Not-so-secret-side-projects! I usually have a few on the go at any one time and thought it was time to give them some air.

I call this one Hipster Airlines. It’s using a brief I got when I was doing AS level Graphic Design (I looked back through my old work. Argh. Should never be done). Horizon Air(lines) are a small company offering holidays to Pacific island locations, and need promo material. In my AS project, I was focussing on leaflets and illustration inspired by the popular style at the time (very vector-y if I remember rightly). This time round I’m more interested in getting a brand going, using the theme of pop-graphics of now.

May I present… PIXELee. OK, so I put this on Twitter a while back. But this is a Thing. Something will happen with it. However it could take some time. I’ll make no promises, as it’s just a bit of fun when I get the time for it. And let’s face it, Eadward Muybridge this ain’t… (On a side note, congrats SHINee on winning Artist of the Year at the Melon Music Awards. Bless their little teary faces).

I’m also getting together things for my inspiration posts (and not all of it K-pop packagaing(!)), so I’ll get some more bits and bobs up soon.

Be seeing you.

You disappear like a dream…

K-pop inspiration time again. And SHINee’s back (again. What?)

SHINee – Dream Girl: The Misconceptions of You (2013)

What’s so great about this?

Concept. That’s a big thing in k-pop, far more noticable (to me at least) than your average Western pop album, and tends to be used during all the promotions. This one, as the title suggests, is dreams (which is pretty unusual as concept and lyrics/themes etc rarely seem to match up). It uses surreal photo collages, soft, hazy photography and bright but somehow toned back colours (think Instagram, or the dark blue exclusion layer effect). The photoshoot itself carries on the odd theme, giving the SHINee boys some “clouds”, a pony (no, I don’t know either), a space suit, a school desk and some kiddy toys to interact with. And then there’s their clothes. You could only wear them in some surreal dream-world really, but they make an awesome pattern and colour swatch collection for your inspiration.

As for nice little details, there’s the SHINee logo-stamp-thing that’s on the top right of the front and left of the back cover (I am very proud of being able to read the Hangul!). They’ve never had a logo before, so I’m (so) curious (yeah) to see if it’ll turn up anywhere else. Probably not, as k-pop design moves like fast fashion, but still. The non-photo pages of the booklet are dotted with scribbley line portraits of the group. The lyrics pages have the word “SHINee” written across them twice: once as one-per-page angular, hairline letters, and again in little dots that appear at each intersection of the hairline. Just in case you forget whos unusually colourful album you’re holding.

Want to see more?

The album is a large square format with a matt finish, the CD disc held in the front with a foam tab. The photobook is really quite heavy, and on a good quality paper stock.

Anything to declare?
SHINee are my favourite k-popsicles, and this is probably my favourite album by them. It’s got a hint of 90s and 00s to it along with a dash of electronica (Exhibit A: Areumdawo (Beautiful)). It’s not particularlyy R&B, and there’s only 1 slow song which isn’t really your usual k-pop ballad.
This album is also very special to me, as my good friend Isabelle got it for me when she went to Korea ❤

Oh I’m curious… (+ essay on SHINee’s graphic style!)

More k-pop packaging inspiration for you today!

SHINee – Sherlock EP (2012)

What’s so great about this?

The scribbled illustration style. It’s just not what you expect from a squeaky clean pop act. It reminds me more of The Libertines, or other arty indie bands. It’s unexpected and… awesome. You open up a lyrics book expecting plain white formatting and instead find the pages covered with fingerprints (detective theme? I see what you did there). The pointing hand motif turns up a lot as well, a lot cleaner amoungst the scribbles. It’s like some kind of obsessive artist’s notebook, full of strange shapes and musings in the form of the odd translated to English lyric.

Want to see more?

The EP comes in a plastic slipcase (of which there are 5 designs, one for each member’s version) with 6 (yes, 6) booklets inside. One contains the CD, lyrics, and the usual group shots. The other 5 are dedicated to one member of the band each, full of more scribbled illustrations and individual photos. The only difference between versions is the slipcase design and the order in which the booklets are put inside (the version in my photos is Taemin’s (the long-haired maknae)).
On a side note, the photoshoot concept appeared to be “oops, I’ve lost my shirt (then found some unusual not-shirt things to put on)”. I know from other reviews around the internet that I’m not the only one who thought this one was just… Erm. Especially when purchasing or unboxing the album with an audience.

Bonus stage! : SHINee and Scribbles

I’m sensing a pattern of this scribbled, cut-n-pasted art style in SHINee’s Korean CDs. Even their Japanese albums are a bit scrapbookish in style. To be honest, I’m not sure why. They are a boyband. They do the fashion and ‘look at us having fun!’ photobooks like any other k-pop group, the style changing depending on the current concept. But from 2009 onwards, the scribbled, hand drawn style has been pretty consistant. It’s even present in the pretend hand-drawn font of the Boys Meet U single trailer (is it just me or does the song sound like… no, let’s not go there). While they don’t have a logo or recognisable type mark, their graphic ‘brand’ seems to be the art style. Never too polished or formal (at least, not in the usual clean type and white space way), maybe it’s meant to convey a casual, boy-next-door sort of thing. We’re young, fun, fashionable and creative! SHINee hwaiting!

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

This song for my Juliette

Another inspiration post today, and this one’s k-pop related. It’s the first of a few that I’m going to do looking at the awesome k-pop packaging.

Why k-pop?
1) The Korean CDs I’ve got hold of have some of the nicest, most interesting packaging I’ve come across. Some of it’s in the art direction, some in the innovative way it’s presented. There’s hardly a jewelcase in sight. They tend to be nice objects; physical things you can appreciate rather than just an image with a digital download.
2) I like it.

SHINee – Romeo EP (2009)

What’s so great about this?

The illustrated type. It’s quite scribbly but very detailed. I especially like the rockets on the centre page “e”. Combined with the photography (the band messing about with props etc) it gives it a casual feeling, perhaps something doodled by a(n artistically talented) teenager. It ties in with their theme of first love and youthful optimism. The important type is kept very minimal and clean, and does not distract from the fun tone.

Want to see more?

If you’ve never come across this internet phenomenon, I shall introduce it to you now: unboxing videos. Does what it says on the tin (sometime literally with people getting it out of the box it was mailed in).

(Note: There are different back page images, one for each band member in their “Juliette” video masks.)

The EP comes in a medium format “book” of the standard k-pop fashion editorial style photography which doubles as the CD holder (the disc is held on the back page by some little tabs). Back and front pages fold out double to give a bit more photography/type space.

Any more info?

My favourite k-popsicles, SHINee are a 5 piece boyband. Their (Korean) albums and EPs, regardless of musical style, always seem to include some kind of illustrated elements alongside the fashion editorial photography you expect from k-pop (where photobooks/photocards of idols are definately a “thing”).

SHINee Official site (Kr)
Caution: Currently plays loud music without asking -_-

(If anyone wonders how I get hold of these CDs for reasonable prices, two words: second hand.)