Jonathan Zawada is the man behind the art for Flume’s Grammy winning Skin oeuvre. The equally talented Perth born graphic designer / visual artist works across all things music, art, publishing and fashion. So how did these creative Aussies marry their craft so beautifully? This shit was not a chance occurrence.
For Zawada, it started with a little convincing. After almost 10 years in the biz of album art, producing for Bauuer, Rustie and Mark Pritchard, music labels collectively left a bad taste in his mouth. Some might say Zawada was destined to be rescued from his four-year hiatus.
Enter Future Classic. These guys, at the helm of the Australian independent record label that Flume is signed to, were laid back enough to relinquish control and let the creatives do their thing.Working with Flume & FC defied most previous music-based jobs Zawada had. It almost goes without saying, that Flume himself, is anything BUT conventional.
Instead of being engaged by a label upon the completion of an album and concrete campaign schedule with a tightly controlled concrete vision, the creative relationship began as a mere seed. Skin’s aesthetic was developed at the same pace as the tunes, with Harley and Zawada going back and forth. From audio prototype to visuals; visuals to music.
After some mood boarding AKA brainstorming in the creative world, Harley was captured by a miniseries of botanic renderings Zawada privately produced. The true-to-life botanicals we see on record covers for the Skin LP, Skin Companion EP 1 & 2 are elaborations of this, possibly explained by horticultural influences from Flume’s mum. It was an entirely intuitive process, in which a visual narrative flows from the physical records to Zawada’s creative direction of visuals and set design for Flume’s legendary live performances.
The man behind Flume, Harley Streten only had praise for the man behind the organic wonders,
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Jonathan’s work so it’s been a privilege to have him involved in the visual aesthetic around Skin … Visually I’m interested in the contrast of organic and synthetic, Jonathan’s work so cleverly depicts this so it’s been a natural fit for the music. I love the way he embraces technology to twist and contort things from the real world in alien ways.”
The end result is a testament to Future Classic relinquishing control, allowing Zawada & Flume’s imagination to flourish. Vicariously, Zawada and Future Classic both share victory for Flume’s ‘Best Dance/Electronic Album’ (art) Grammy. A fitting token, we think.He used to find dictating that aesthetic, of what music ‘looks’ quite terrifying. If anyone leverages off fear, it’s Zawada.
“I recognised how much album art influenced my reading of an album,” he said, and what a colourful interpretation Zawada engineered.
Alas, we’re calling it: our favourite producer X artist collab yet. We’re feeling all the good feels.
PSA: The plant on Skin Companion EP 2 is called a Crown of Thorns and it’s found under a gigantic Aloe Vera in Zawada’s garden. But there are dogs, so adventurous visitors beware.
Originally published on The Cut, the cultural centre of the entire world.
Image source: Vice, Flume, Reddit.