The song I chose is called Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool, by Duke Ellington. Ellington wrote it in ca. 1955 and it was most famously performed at the Newport Jazz Festival of 1958, which featured him. The song is typical of jazz of the 1950s – inspired by jazz of the 1920s and 30s, but with more blues and less swing influence. Its sound is very smooth and relaxed, with no surprising or unusually loud noises. It’s an uptempo but laid-back song. In order to communicate this in my design, I focused on the influences of art deco and midcentury modern art and architecture, both of which I’m fairly familiar with.
The geometric pattern is a very art deco-like piece, but some of the harder angles and perpendicular lines suggest the slightly later styles. The use of the blue color in both pieces is representative of the “cool” while the soothing colors, particularly in the representative pattern, shows the “gentle”. The representative pattern shows a man conducting an orchestra or band, a bass, and five lines that suggest the five lines of a musical staff.
Initially the man and shapes were a single design:
I separated the two and tried patterns with just the man, which seemed to be too rigid for the smooth, laid-back sound of the song.
The blue-on-yellow was also too loud; the yellow-on-blue color scheme is much more relaxed. I tried the figure on a white background, repeating consistently…
…which was decidedly creepy. Not wanting an advancing army of bandleaders, I eventually decided on a repeating figure with instrument and lines, based on this initial vector graphic:
By repeating this at different angles and scales, the graphics are defined as individual units, not a single mass of smaller elements that is a single image. I then considered possible practical uses of this pattern, which brought me to:
The figure/instrument graphic could be used as a logo for something like this fictional jazz festival.