@Rest: aaron rester's blog

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Lost Cartographers at Uncommon Ground on Devon, March 13

The Lost Cartographers come out of winter hibernation for their first show of 2010. Check out the poster below (designed by yours truly), or our shows page for details.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Project Update: Lost Cartographers Poster

One of the fun parts about being a designer in a band (and probably the reason that so many designers are also musicians) is getting the chance to design all the schwag that goes along with the music: album covers, websites, t-shirts, and of course, gig posters. Designers love doing music-related projects, as other creatives tend to give designers more creative freedom than the average client. Often, particularly with gig posters, we're freed from the usual constraints of having to clearly communicate a set of information (I'm fairly confident that no one in this day and age actually finds out about a gig by way of a poster) in favor of producing a work with an emotional impact, one that tells the story of a band's sound in a single image (check out this great collection for some examples, and this post and its comments for some criticism of this paradigm).

Next week, the Lost Cartographers and I will be playing at Chicago's legendary Empty Bottle for the second time; we'll be opening for the incredible Samanatha Crain & The Midnight Shivers (check out this preview of the show). The Bottle's promo folks asked us to provide some posters, and while we don't normally make posters (the return on investment is just too low in terms of getting people to come to the show), I decided it might be fun to do one for what promises to be such a great show.

I'd be interested to hear in the comments what you think about the poster -- does it capture our sound, and tell the story of our music (which you can hear here if you haven't already)?

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Friday, August 21, 2009


Project Update: Lost Cartographers Redesign

I just realized that the last few months have been so busy that I completely forgot to post about a project I completed at the beginning of the summer. In preparation for the release of the Lost Cartographers' debut album, I decided to to redesign our website. While the old one was still workable, I wanted to design something that a) was consistent with our cd packaging and b) did a better job of integrating our social media presence. I also had an itch to create something in a photorealistic style, as opposed to the relatively clean graphic style I often gravitate toward.

Here is the before:

And the after:

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Monday, March 2, 2009


Project Update: "Walk On" Album Cover

It's been nearly as long in coming as "Chinese Democracy," but The Lost Cartographers' debut album is about to be sent off to the manufacturers. The album features cover and disc design by yours truly, working off of a photo of a South Side food & liquor joint that I found on Flickr (the photographer generously offered use of the photo for the price of a complimentary CD.

The goal here was to come up with a design that was timeless, reflected the sound of the band, and -- as our bassist Karl put it -- would look awesome on a t-shirt.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Is Having Music Stolen Good for Bands?

As we near completion of our first album, my band has been discussing the best ways to a) get our album heard and b) get our album bought, in order to recoup the rather substantial investment we've made in it. There are some in the band who feel that we put a lot of hard work and cash into making this record, and that we should be adequately compensated by those who will enjoy the music.

I certainly understand that feeling, but my contention is that the more people who hear our music -- whether they've paid for it or not -- the more people will come to our shows and the more cds we'll actually sell. So I've advocated things like streaming the whole thing online, licensing songs for free to other aspiring artists for use in their art, etc. My reasoning for this is that the value of recorded music as a product is -- in economic terms -- quickly approaching zero. It's simple economics: supply and demand. The ease of digital recording and distribution have greatly increased the supply, while demand has generally stayed the same. And, in our case, demand is -- at the moment -- pretty much zero. The only way we make our musical valuable is by creating demand; the only we we create demand is by getting people to hear our music. And they won't hear it if they have to pay for it -- there's just too much other music out there that they don't have to pay for.

While I get most of my music via the subscription download service Emusic, I've definitely "stolen" music -- burned friends' cds, etc. -- that I wasn't sure I wanted to spend money on. Sometimes I listen to the album, am unimpressed, and forget about it; but if I like it I'm far more likely to buy the band's next album or spend money on tickets to go see the band when they come through town. Sometimes I'll even buy a copy of the album that I already got through illicit means so that I can have the physical artifact itself and provide additional support to the band. For example, I wasn't sure that I would like Art Brut's first album, but having burned a copy from a friend, I discovered I loved their sound. I wound up buying both their second album as soon as it came out AND a copy of the "stolen" album, and have gone to see them live three times. That never would have happened unless I had been able to spend some quality time listening to the album, and I would never have gotten that quality time without "stealing" the album.

So I'm curious: am I an anomaly, or part of a larger trend? Do you steal music? If so, does it make you more or less likely to pay for future albums, and more or less likely to to go see a band in concert?

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Monday, September 29, 2008


Contest: "Walk On" Album Cover

Over on the Lost Cartographers' new blog, I've posted four potential album cover designs for our debut CD, "Walk On." Use the comments section there to tell us which one you like the best, and you could win a free copy of the CD once it's released!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Come Find The Lost Cartographers At The Empty Bottle

The Lost Cartographers have hit the (kinda, sorta, in our minds at least) big-time. We'll be playing Chicago's legendary Empty Bottle on May 4 -- our biggest show yet, taking place on the same stage where famous acts like the Flaming Lips once played. As part of the Bottle's new "$3 Sunday" series, we'll be joined by old-school country troubadors the Long Gone Lonesome Boys and singer-songwriter Heather Perry (whose drummer happens to be an old bandmate of mine from my freshman year at Oberlin). The show starts at 9pm and the cover is, unsurprisingly, $3 (you can buy tickets in advance).

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Thursday, March 6, 2008


Actually, Make That 30 Seconds of Fame

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about being mentioned on one of favorite podcasts, Freelance Radio. Well, I am feeling the Freelance Radio love once again -- "Walk On" by the Lost Cartographers was selected as the outro music for Episode 10. Thanks again to the crew over at Freelance Radio for the shout-out and for all their excellent work.

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Friday, February 15, 2008


Lost & Lonesome

Last Saturday, fellow Lost Cartographer Gabrielle Schafer and I played a short three-song acoustic set at the Charleston as the guests of the Long Gone Lonesome Boys. Aside from being incredibly nice guys, the Boys put on an amazing show, and the LGLBs' John Milne was kind enough to give me a copy of their second cd, "Lonesome Time." While the disc doesn't quite capture the fun and energy of their live set, you should check it out if you enjoy 50s and 60s country along the lines of the Louvin Brothers or anything from Sun Records. Like fellow Chicagoan Robbie Fulks, the LGLBs provide this classic material with wicked wit and a decidedly 21st-century twist (e.g. one of their songs is called "www.lonesome.com," and features the line "tired of Googling porn/and playing with my flugelhorn"). If you can catch them live, by all means do so -- but if you can't, you should pick up this record.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Bulletin from the WTF? Department

Take a look at this:

Perhaps the Lost Cartographers should apply. I'm pretty sure our bassist Karl is a "recognizable celebrity nationally or internationally." And at least they'd give us body armor.

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