Partnered with Julie Pitts of Woodville Inc, 89ideas created some welcoming gifts for Major Lazer and friends for their show at Cat's Cradle in Carborro, NC.
Designed custom jewelry as gifts for members of the musical act “Major Lazer”. Partnered with Julie Pitts of Woodville Inc, to produce wooden pendants, bracelets, dog tags, box, and necklaces incorporating Major Lazer’s logos and themes. Items were presented to and worn by group members Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Jillionaire during their performance at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC
When I first heard Major Lazer was coming to town I immediately had the idea to create a gift for the group. Major Lazer is an electronic dancehall DJ project which has a lot of influence on the culture and style of music I listen to. As a way to demonstrate my appreciation for their music, I saw this as a cool opportunity to showcase my skills as a graphic artist by creating a customized gift.
At first, I struggled to come up with a unique enough idea that would capture the attention of the group’s members. Eventually, I decided to combine skill-sets with an old friend from high school to create something that would scream for the band’s attention – custom-made “Major Lazer” wooden jewelry. Julie Pitts runs her own wood design business named “Woodville.” She specializes in producing beautifully laser engraved wooden products. I called her up, pitched my idea, and we set to work.
Starting the project we knew there were going to be some tough challenges involved. The first challenge had to do with the brand of the group itself. We wanted to capture the group’s identity, but found it difficult to pin down. During this time, they were setting sail for their spring tour, their new album was not out yet, only three songs had been released, and lastly, a founding member had left the group only months before. It was a tough time to research the band’s tastes and styles for incorporation in the project.
The second challenge was logistics. Like all projects, we were working within a limited budget, but looking to create a lot of items for multiple people: Major Lazer with a total of three DJs, two dancers, and two opening acts (Gent and Jawns and Dragonnette), each of which had at least two or more members in their group. We had to be resourceful.
Finally the biggest challenge was brainstorming how we were going to present the gifts. This was a passion project with no official affiliation to the group, and no guarantee they would like our idea.
After review, we dug right into research in order to resolve these challenges. To gather ideas for the design process, we started with the album art of the three songs that were released: “Jah No Partial” “Get Free” and “Original Don”. Second, we looked at some of the merchandise on their website for popular styles their fans were wearing. We felt like this would be the best place to look since we wanted to stay within the Major Lazer Brand. Finally, we used social media to complete the diagnostic of the current brand and identity, finding fan art, photos, and videos that couldn’t be found by the other methods of research.
Next we had to tackle the budget issue, which was how were we going to make enough gifts for all the performers. Since this wasn’t Julie’s first experience with creating gifts for bands, she suggested that I design multiple small gifts for everyone and create one or two big gifts for the headliner, Major Lazer. Moreover, we would customize a box to be handed over with everything inside. That way, we could spread more of the love around for everyone involved in the concert.
Lastly we had to solve the big question – how to present it all? We had few options. W\e could either show up really early, stalking them until they came out of their tour bus or their rehearsal. Two, go to the concert a little bit early to get a front row seat and shove the box on stage. Three, wait after the show and hope they had some kind of meet and great, or four, find the bus driver or someone from the venue and give them to give it the group. No matter what we had to do, we just wanted it to wind up in their hands!
Starting with the goodies… During the research we saw that Major Lazer loves rocking their Letterman jacket, so we made laser engraved “Mad Decent” (the name of their record label) logo pins to accessorize the jackets, but also give recognition to the label.
Next we made five “Get Free” bracelets (the name of one their singles) for the dancers and anyone else who wanted something from our gift box. We saw a get free shirt on their merchandise site and thought this could be a cool accessory to match with the shirts. Since Major Lazer is an electronic dancehall group it only made sense to use Rastafarian colors (red, green, and yellow) for the wood beads, with an elastic band to stretch and fit comfortably around all size wrist. The design we kept the wood natural, not adding wood stain for color.
One of the things we did know about the album was that its name was to be “Free the Universe.” The very first thing we saw on the website was the logo for the album. We thought this would look amazing on dog tags with the match yellow used for the logo. We stained the wood black to help the yellow stand out a little more to be seen in a dark environment, we also added a second dog tag with our branding on it just in case they wanted more dog tags from us. We also made a pair of dog tags as a gift for their opening act, Gent and Jawns.
Drognette’s gift was the only non-wood gift we created. Using their logo we were able to make this pair of pink acrylic earrings. We chose pink since it was the predominant on the cover for their album artwork and their website.
For the last of the small gifts, we made Diplo a small tile necklace with a black elastic lace, threaded threw a hole at the top of the tile. Using Diplo logo as the design on the tile, we once again we kept the wood natural. Meaning not adding any color, but this time we did stain the wood to darken it. We also felt it would be best to keep the tile within the color scheme than to add a ton of colors outside of the color scheme we were already working with.
Finally the two key parts to the overall gift were the custom box and the “Jah No Partial” wood chain. We wanted something different from the rest, something that would make them say “WOW!” To do this, we went outside of their brand. We created a custom design box with a fitted holder to store the necklace on the outside cover. Like a Major Lazer dub itself, we “mashed up” Major Lazer’s brand with that of the “Mighty Morphing Power Rangers” to create a one of a kind, hybrid design. The result had the “WOW” factor we were going for.
To mimic the gold coin which pops out of the Power Ranger’s badge, I had the bright idea to make our main piece fit on the box cover for display. Being able to remove it from the box top and attach it to the necklace made for some “mad decent” extra flare. In addition, we did a simple design on the top cover of the box with the group name engraved in natural wood color, staining the rest of the box black to emphasize the center piece. As every artist does, we also engraved our signature “89 ideas” and “Woodville” logos just in case they needed a reminder from where these gifts came from.
As for the “Jah No Partial” chain, we chose that song to be the main piece since it was the hottest song out at the time. We played off the album art, sticking with the brand, in hopes this would encourage them to actually wear it. The difference between the album art and this chain though, is that our work is three-dimensional. In the original blue print of this design we wanted the necklace to detached from the center of the design at the center peak of the flag, so it can be placed on the cover of the box, which would able them to carry the box with the design secure to the cover.
After some thought we consider it would be best to secure the necklace to the design, members of the group are known for stage diving, and with the possibility of fans grabbing it we had to make sure it would stay secure. Just like we did with the “Get Free” bracelets, we stuck to the Rastafarian color scheme to make sure that it harmonized with our grand color scheme.
Best part of it all? We were able to stay within the budget, making a grand total of sixteen gifts! As for getting it to them? Well, that was a lot easier than we thought, but I’ll save that story for another day. Here’s a teaser for you!