Music has always been a big part of my life. My older brothers and sisters collected records that I played as soon as they left the house, I just sat there listening – taking it all in. Many years later I’m still listening nearly every moment of the day. I love entering a room that already has music kicking; it gives me a lift. My lady hates it, she’s constantly turning off the radios in the house. I’m not sure why she’d turn off the tunes – when I’m in a quiet space, I start listening to my thoughts and, uh, I like me better with a little back-beat soundtrack. I think she might, too.

My music started out with whatever I’d find next the turntable. Now, I’m more selective, and music is always prescribed for my mood. There is room for jazz, reggae, ska, soul and more. Music enters my design world in this way as well, it has become an integrated part of our work. Often there will be a soundtrack to a project, one that evokes the intended outcome, be it Black Flag or Britney Spears.

As a business that roams different studios, we’ve been in places where the music doesn’t suit our specific design sensibilities – and that’s like being imprisoned in your headphones. The experience has taught us even more about where we should go – and where we will fit in. As a matter of fact, when we first visited Pixelube and met Vince, there was no music on. It was a RED FLAG. Within the hour of getting back to our desks, I sent him an e-mail asking what his usual music situation was. Thankfully, the answer was “KEXP– all day.”

For those of you who do not know KEXP, it’s a listener-supported radio station in Seattle. It is quite succinctly the best station I’ve ever listened to. If Vince’s answer was any commercial radio station, the creative vibe at Pixelube would likely be neutered by the car commercials or the DJ chit-chat, and I can’t work if there’s conversations buzzing around me. Especially inane conversations.

Therefore, in most environments of any size, headphones of any size become critical.

I’m not alone. Justin geeks out on music as well. And he actually gets paid for it when he’s not designing the next great brand for a Wolken Communica client. He performs in the electronica duo “Cyanwave,” spending his nights on more digital equipment than is probably healthy. Justin is almost always in his headphones pumping techno into his design brain – it gets him through a day. He’s also supplied me with some beat-heavy tracks, so I can pound the bike pedals with as I commute. Hell – here’s one of his bad-ass beats:

Vacant Stairway by cyanwave

Listen to more of Justin’s music here:

I know I’m not the first to make this connection between music and graphic design, but it’s even more amplified as we move from space to space. We love our music and, well, we just can’t design without it.

A few other blogs have written on this subject – check them out, too: