Creative Process – Joe Rudko’s Art on Death Cab for Cutie’s “Kintsugi”
January 12, 2015

As many of you may know, today was the official announcement that this spring, Death Cab for Cutie’s eighth full-length album, Kintsugi, will hit the shelves, and Hum is stoked to have designed the album art. While starting to tackle the concept for the album cover,  we delved deeper into the meaning behind the title.

Kintsugi is the traditional Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics or glass with a combination of gold dust and resin. It is a painstaking process that transforms what was once destroyed into something vastly different and more beautiful. The band has been open about how this album’s title reflects their recent professional and personal lives. By taking the brokenness and making it into something that honors the past without becoming entrenched in it, the record is honest without being nostalgic, and encourages saving what you can out of the pieces to make something new.


With such a rich theme, we reached out to an amazing local artist, Joe Rudko, to run with the idea and create an piece of art that could go on the cover.


Joe adapted the art of Kintsugi by finding old photographs from an estate sale in Bellingham, the hometown of Death Cab for Cutie. “I selected the image because it was one that I had collected in Bellingham, where Death Cab was formed, and where I lived for about 5 years. The image seemed to be taken at Larrabee State Park, a place I frequented while living there. I was initially drawn to the contrasting expressions on the girls faces. It seemed like a difficult photograph to define, despite what I may have already known about it.”

He found a stunning photograph of two young girls in the park, in black and white, and transformed it completely.


He created this photographic kintsugi by running the photo through a shredder, and then rearranged the shreds, connecting them with spotting pen. “The process is about tapping into new ways of seeing the same thing. Lately I’ve been using paper shredders in the studio as a means of fragmenting images. I like the idea of breaking apart a mechanically produced photograph with an equally mechanical tool, and then finding an alternative logic to restructure the image. I used photographic spotting pens, a tool designed to correct analog photographs, as the drawing medium.”


Kintsugi is out March 31, 2015 on Atlantic. We can’t wait for you to see the full album design, and more importantly, hear the album itself.