Article. A ji-hye (Sparks Edition Studio co-representative)
Photo Credit. Sparks Edition Studio (by studio 8)
RM’s solo album Indigo is a complete and honest record of his life, and thoughts and feelings, between 2019 and 2022. The title refers to a deep, warm shade of blue, which provided the direction when we were requested to design the album art by BIGHIT MUSIC, with whom we had previously worked with on designs for MAP OF THE SOUL: 7. Lee Hyeri, my contact for the project at the BIGHIT MUSIC Brand Experience department, said they came to us for the design because we use mediums like painting and sculpture when we work rather than computer graphics and that our art style would be a good fit for RM’s latest album. Most importantly, his interest in art, and our methods of expression that take an artistic direction beyond computer graphics, were going to be a perfect match.

The image of youth we wanted to convey with Indigo wasn’t so much one that’s distinct and defined but instead washed out with water stains, with color vaguely permeating the image, like traces of something left behind. The logo for Indigo is meant to feel like it’s soaked in ink; it’s not in a neatly typed font, but rather like a crumpled diary with smudged ink. We found numerous ways to work with the Indigo typography, including leaving faint trace lines and using a blurry effect. Blue already has a special meaning for us as we used the pigment for our own exhibit in 2019 under the theme of “dancing blue,” so working with a shade of indigo was another chance for us to work with the color blue.

In addition to the typography, we aimed to represent the artist honestly and without pretention through an artistic technique known as cyanotype. Cyanotype is a fantastic method of printing photographs that relies on oxidation of iron in which images of artificial or natural objects are formed with sunlight against a painted blue background of indigo, a warm blue close to cyan. The sunlight casts shadows from the objects as they move and leaves a unique silhouette behind.
  • ©️ Sparks Edition Studio (by studio 8)
The resulting blue images created through this cyanotype technique serve as blueprints suggestive of where RM stands today, finding his own unique color as he draws up the many facets of his future, as well as a lasting impression of the feelings and experiences he’s had throughout his life. We created a total of 37 different pieces of artwork, each reflecting the emotions RM explores throughout the diary-like tracks off his album. As the album is meant to be a record in both senses, we also aimed to capture the conditions surrounding the creation of each piece of art—when and where they were created, and the objects that were found in those spaces. We used brushstrokes that looked sandy and dusty to capture the idea of imperfect youth. RM said he wanted it to be “an album that’s easy to put on at any time, like when you’re out for a drive, taking a shower or riding a bike,” and that he wanted that meaning to be conveyed in written words. So we tried to make the album cover look like a user’s manual.

We gave the album packaging a clean, simple design, adding words reminiscent of a user guide, as RM had suggested, so we could capture his hope to be a part of people’s everyday lives. We took a lot into consideration and worked from various angles to properly convey RM’s honest, unembellished record of his life. He was satisfied with the way we worked on this project and our expressive medium, so I’m really happy we were able to capture the feeling he was going for. It was also a uniquely fun and meaningful experience to have such unlimited freedom in the design and final art and I hope that those blue images and all the emotional colors contained within the music ended up working well together. I myself was deeply in love, lonely and awkward when I was in my 20s and I was touched every moment I was able to help work on this album.