Undertone

An underground music festival overground

Overview

Undertone is a street music festival in New York City made to discover and support underground artists. Given that the entry point into the music industry is difficult, and especially so for minorities and BIPOC underground artists, I propose Undertone, a festival that gives recognition and a voice to minority artists by bringing underground music literally up and onto the streets of New York City.

This was a 9-week long project with my colleague Sejeong Hwang . Our purpose was to use typographic forms (as opposed to photography or illustration) for the graphic elements in the design system. Given our festival concept of celebrating street musicians, we created a hand-painted typographic identity inspired by vernacular type.

Timeline

9 weeks (Oct—Dec 2020)

Role

Visual and UX/UI designer in team of 2: concept ideation, competitive research, identity design, UX/UI design, prototyping

The Concept

An underground music festival brought overground to celebrate and give recognition to minority underground artists.

Where:

Park Avenue, from 41st street to Astor Place, New York City

How:

Friends and family would gather each in their own circles around specific campfire sites along Park Ave. to listen and enjoy an intimate experience with each performer, who would walk to the next campfire site after 3 to 4 songs.

Who:

It is becoming more challenging for street performers to earn a living as a consequence of our society becoming cashless. Given the entry point in the music industry is even more difficult for minorities, our performers are BIPOC or female street musicians who perform in NYC.

Festival Identity—Why It Looks & Feels the Way It Does

Website

The website's purpose is for the audience to learn more about the event concept and purchase tickets prior to the festival.

Mobile App

The mobile app's purpose is for the attendees to find their campfire site locations, keep track of the musicians they've listened to, donate to them directly, and discover food vendors along Park Ave.

Given each group of people is assigned to a campfire location that is lined up on Park Ave., and given that the musicians rotate sites every couple of songs, we decided that the best use of this mobile app would be to include location and time estimation services. This would allow the attendees to look ahead at the festival schedule to avoid missing out on a favorite artist's performance.

Reflections

I love this project for the simple reason that it was a lot of fun to create. Prior to arriving to our final product, my teammate and I engaged in a lot of physical experimentation with typeforms—coloring, scribbling, painting, cutting, and gluing of letters to finally decide on the hand-painted letters you see here. We had fun getting inspired by each other and merging our ideas together.

Another highlight was getting to think about how to best use the medium of the product—web or mobile—to drive the functionalities of each experience while still ensuring they were cohesive under one umbrella event concept. One area of improvement, however, would be tightening the UI component to marry the playful handwritten letters with a fun yet professional digital experience.

All the weird experimentation we did prior to deciding on a typographic style & treatment