Ombilicus Mundi, Alexandre Désilets & Ariane Charbonneau

11th Annual Album Art Vox Pop Winner

Nominated Piece: Alexandre Désilets – La garde

See More At The Vox Pop Jukebox

*Ombilicus Mundi & Arian Charbonneau are also
nominated for Alexandre Désilets’ website in
11th annual Music Website.

*Alexandre Désilets’ La garde also won for
11th annual Adult Contemporary Album.

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COMPANY NAME: Ombilicus Mundi, Alexander Désilets & Ariane Charbonneau

HOMEBASE: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

CATEGORY ENTERED: Album Artwork & Website Design

DESCRIBE YOUR NOMINATED WORK: This is the album artwork for Montreal singer-songwriter Alexandre Désilets’ second album La Garde. The artwork was created at first by Alexandre Désilets, the artist, & Ariane Charbonneau. They took numerous photos & printed them. These subsequently served as a canvass for their handmade illustrations. Ombilicus Mundi then worked & digitally completed the artwork. La Garde, more luminous than the previous album, needed to reflect that glow present in the intricate lyrics.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THIS PROJECT? At an industry party the artist mentioned us he was having trouble finding the right designer that understood how to create an album artwork that reflected his new musical direction. Little did he know that we were designers ourselves. We told him we could try to help him out and the next day we sent him a couple of samples, based on Alexandre & Ariane’s photos & drawings. The rest is, well, history!

WHAT WAS THE CONCEPT & PROCESS? DID YOU & THE BAND COLLABORATE? At the very start of the creative writing process, Alexandre Désilets & Ariane Charbonneau had created a scrapbook to help Alexandre visualize his lyrics and the feel of the album’s direction. During a trip to Europe they took many photos. Back home, all the underground Montreal sights inspired Ariane to take more pictures, which added various local elements to the album’s artwork. Then, they selected their favourite photos, which were printed & used as a canvass for their drawings & illustrations. They drew & painted directly onto the photos to add a personal interpretation of those photographical snapshots. The cover was a picture taken by Ariane at Lisbon airport and drawn by Alexandre himself. The centerfold was created by combining two pictures taken by Ariane, which were printed and drawn onto. They imagined buildings & skyscrapers turning into spaceships & rockets leaving a city.

Ombilicus Mundi were then called in to work the final details of their photos/drawings to perfect the futuristic luminous feel, such as adding that crucial yellow and integrating all their work into one ensemble.

WAS THE DESIGN/IMAGE YOU CREATED USED IN ANY OTHER PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS FOR THE ARTIST? PLEASE DESCRIBE: Yes, we used it for Concert Posters, the Newsletter template as well as for the Website, also nominated this year!

DESCRIBE WHAT IT WAS LIKE WORKING WITH THE MUSICAL ARTIST: It was an absolutely great experience because Alexandre Désilets & Ariane let us into their creative process really easily and trusted us with the work they had been creating for many months.

WHAT OTHER INDEPENDENT MUSIC PROJECTS HAVE YOU WORKED ON? Ombilicus Mundi: Thomas Hellman, Ariane Moffatt, Patrick Watson.

WHICH MUSICIAN’S WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH NEXT? Ombilicus Mundi: Karkwa, Philippe B, Timber Timbre, The Barr Brothers.

WHAT ROLE WILL ALBUM ART/PHOTOGRAPHY PLAY IN A DIGITAL/STREAMING WORLD? The role is the same. Although it is much more interesting to actually hold a printed, physical art piece in your hands, the process of conveying the album’s spirit doesn’t change. We personally have never given in to the individual track market and continue to give importance to the album as a whole, the particular context in which it was created.

HOW HAVE CHANGES IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AFFECTED YOUR CAREER & ART?Ombilicus Mundi: Since we work both in print design and interactive, we noticed budget cuts in both areas. Album / jacket design obviously took a drop since less physical albums are sold. The web will remain an important vehicle but with all the free tools available these days to help out artists (which are great), it is hard for us to keep up in terms of pricing for fully custom web/interactive concepts. Unfortunately, we will sometimes have to cut corners and restrain ourselves in the time we put into the creation phase.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SUBMIT TO THE 11TH IMAS? Because this was a perfect example of teamwork between a singer-songwriter, a visual artist & web promo/content manager & graphic designers! We used photographs taken by Désilets himself & Ariane as a starting point, and pursued with their illustration work that unified the whole in a special style. We then took this material and processed them digitally: working the layout, textures and color treatment to convey the mood of the album. In the end this sort of collaborative work is much more interesting and rewarding.

WHAT PHOTOGRAPHERS/GRAPHIC DESIGNERS/ARTISTS INSPIRE YOU? In general, nobody specific and everybody. We’re continuously inspired by many artists at a time. In a given period, what we see around us, the music we’re listening at that time will definitely taint our work. When working with musicians, we try and immerse ourselves in that specific universe and try not to be influenced by current trends, even though that is difficult, as there seems to be a strong collective consciousness in the arts.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE? Ombilicus Mundi: In the past, we have worked extensively using the Flash environment, which gave us a lot of creative freedom when trying to complement a musical artist’s work. We were focused on creating immersive, narrative web experiences. One of our first achievement was the web counterpart to Patrick Watson’s Just Another Ordinary Day, which landed us many accolades, including a trip to Brazil, where it was showcased as part of the FILE festival in 2006. This project caught some attention and ended up bringing many artists to our doorstep in the following years.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS…still a multifaceted industry. While much of the commercial radios continue to spin a lot of nonsense, we’re glad that the digital culture is counterbalancing and gaining more and more importance. The inherent democracy of online social communities will tip the scales and finally bring quality music and art to a broader audience.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN THE WORKS FOR THE UPCOMING YEAR? Alexandre Désilets: writing new lyrics and composing new music for the 3rd album!

Ombilicus Mundi: For now, a new project for Patrick Watson’s upcoming album is in the works. A lot of reflections and ideas are being tossed around relating to the realities of the digital world and content delivery. We hope to pursue our mission of visually and interactively conveying the artists’ message and reflecting their universe, while giving them the online tools to easily propagate their art throughout the industry.

Alexandre Désilets:
Ombilicus Mundi: