ATX Urban Art: The Layers of Graffiti, Street Art, Murals, and Mosaics in Austin, Texas is a 700-page book chronicling Austin's best and most historic urban art over the last 70 years. During our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, we raised over $40,000.
I came onto this project shortly after its inception to provide art direction and help turn this tremendous idea into reality. In collaboration with designer Justin Ebel, I created a robust system that's strict yet flexible enough to handle a wide variety of content from complex image layouts to text-heavy pages and everything in between.
Early Stages of Creation
While I was working with J Muzacz on his rebrand, Justin Ebel was working with him on ATX Urban Art. By the time I joined the team, they had a solid idea of the book's concept, and Justin had taken many photos of urban art across town.
We knew the book would have 4 chapters: graffiti, street art, murals, and mosaics. Each chapter would have an introduction with 6–10 subsections that educate the reader on the history and context of each artform. After that comes a large artist features section in which each artist's work is showcased over 2–6 pages and accompanied by a short bio.
But the design, flow, and details were largely still undecided, so Justin and I began ideating. How could we universally represent these seemingly-disparate artforms? The black pages were the first element to illuminate ATX Urban Art's visual voice: clean and classy while still honoring the gritty roots of graffiti and street art.
From there, we assigned each chapter a color and signature display typeface to visually represent the different mediums and aesthetics. All other type was set in DIN 2014 to build a strong foundation and unify all other elements.
A simple 6x6 grid allows for immense flexibility while still keeping consistency throughout. However, we occasionally choose to break the grid when it best suits the layout or image. Certain spreads take advantage of that flexibility, but a few signature layouts pop up throughout the book to bring a sense of familiarity and increase the impact of the more wild spreads.
We split up the work by chapter, and I designed Street Art, Mosaics, and the Intro & Outro, which was roughly two-fifths of the book. Having fewer spreads to design allowed me to also edit the book and handle promotions and printing.
After only a few weeks, ATX Urban Art raised over $40,000 through our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. This was the first time the book's branding expanded beyond its own pages, and we kept it simple to highlight the perks and featured artists.
My responsibilities were to manage all 24 campaign perks and design their promotional images. I also heavily edited and structured both the script for the promotional video and the text for the campaign information.
Along with art direction and design, I edited the book's text for ease of reading and grammar. Another large task was creating the ATX Urban Art Map, which Justin and I populated with over 100 artworks from the book for people to visit in person.
I also discovered and managed contact with the press, influencers, and retailers, where I secured articles and in-person promotions which greatly expanded the audience of ATX Urban Art.
Writing & Curation: J Muzacz
Concept Development: J Muzacz, Justin Ebel
Art Direction & Design: Justin Ebel, Zoe Axelrod
Photography: Justin Ebel, Tony Moreno, Chale Nafus
Copy-Editing: Zoe Axelrod, Justin Ebel, Natalie Earhart