Be The Cowboy

Be the Cowboy is the fifth studio album by Japanese-American indie rock musician Mitski and her greatest work to date. Pitchfork deemed the album "best new music" and Rolling Stone refers to Mitski a "visionary singer-songwriter".

I designed the album art including vinyl record packaging, movie-size poster, and a pair of 100% silk handkerchiefs, as well as a CD package and art for 3 digital singles for Mitski / Dead Oceans.

Album photography by Bao Ngo. Additional credits below.
FRONT COVER: The only instance in the package design where the artist makes direct eye contact and returns the gaze put upon her is on the cover. Other instances of eye contact are mediated (i.e. by sunglasses) or the artist is looking in another direction.

INSIDE GATEFOLD: the words just how many stars will I need to hang around me to finally call it heaven? from the song “Remember My Name” appear like an aura around the artist. The text, in a clear spot gloss can can only be seen in the “right light.”

BACK COVER: featuring the BTC track list and can also be read as a cute public inside joke—fans often share that the music of Mitski makes them cry.

POSTER: A glossy, movie-size poster amplifies the themes on the album and the photography by Bao Ngo—it's huge, though, and difficult to unfold alone. 27” x 40”.

SINGLES: Three singles had custom artwork for digital music services (i.e. Spotify, iTunes) above is the cover for the second single: “Nobody“.

SPINE: An excerpt lyrical line reaches across the divide on the front and back cover—many of the songs and narratives on this record suggest a dual consciousness as well as a loneliness/seeking, which are amplified with the design and the attention to little moments.

RECORD PROTECTIVE SLEEVE: The record protective sleeve and label on the record complete an image on both sides and are most often poetically misaligned. The coke-bottle green record was a special edition for the deluxe album bundle. 

INSIDE THE POCKET: Owners of this record will find the hidden lyrics printed inside the cardboard sleeve but it might make the person holding the record a little uncomfortable to stretch the pocket enough to read them.

DELUXE ALBUM BUNDLE: A pair of 100% silk handkerchiefs have corresponding lyrics but are sold separately and numbered as an edition—perfect for dabbing tears or waving goodbye to a lover on the train. One of the two handkerchiefs was randomly included with each deluxe album bundle, so for example, there will be a red number Edition #11 and a white Edition #11 out in the world, but they will never be together.

Nominated for “Best Recording Package” for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards (2018).

Buy a copy here. Your local independent record store may have the coke-bottle green version as well as a bonus sticker pack.

Another version of this record design available from Vinyl Me Please.
Photography: Bao Ngo

Label: Dead Oceans / Secretly Group

Silk handkerchief directly inspired by Shiraz Abdullahi Gallab.

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