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Talk Back – Bryan Estepa

Bryan Estepa has been on the music scene for more than 20 years. He has worked with Peta and Talk Ink. consistently over that period, through many albums and musical pivots. We asked Bryan to share a little bit about the creative process involved in making cover art.

How important is cover art in terms of the album process?

The art needs to reflect the concept behind the album, but without being too obvious. I like to be a little bit cryptic. I want people to bring their own interpretation to the title, the art, the music.

I love the image that you used on the art for your single I’m Not Ready for This. It seems like it could be interpreted many ways.

I was moving house at the time and I found this photo of myself at my first communion in Manilla. I look petrified! I shared it with Peta and we agreed it just worked for the single art.

The single’s not necessarily a reflection of the whole album. I still do albums with a beginning, middle and end. I know we’re living in a single-driven world, but I’m old-school that way. I spend a lot of time listening to the end of each song to work out how it should fold into the next.

What was the inspiration for the Sometimes I Just Don’t Know album cover?

I usually start with a vision in my head and I try to explain that to Peta. With the latest album, I took some inspiration from the Doors’ album Morrison Hotel – the photo feels like there’s all this stuff happening around them but the artists themselves are completely still. That stillness resonated with me, because in the months I was working on this album I was essentially still, reflecting on my own life.

This is fundamentally the band’s album. Tom Petty is one of my heroes and I wanted to follow his example and showcase my band. It might have my name on it but it belongs to all of us. For that reason, I was really clear about the whole band being in the photo for the album cover.

How do you communicate that vision to a designer?

I usually start with a vision in my head and I try to explain that to Peta. With the latest album, I took some inspiration from the Doors’ album Morrison Hotel – the photo feels like there’s all this stuff happening around them but the artists themselves are completely still. That stillness resonated with me, because in the months I was working on this album I was essentially still, reflecting on my own life.

Sometimes I Just Don’t Know is fundamentally the band’s album. In 2015 I had just finished a European tour and I had the urge to change shit up. I reduced the band from five down to three and explored that sound for a while. But by 2018 I realised I missed the five-piece. So I got us all together and we played some songs and it just felt like time hadn’t passed at all. And then I realised that I hadn’t captured that line-up in a recording before, so we just went for it, and it sounded great, so we just kept recording.

Tom Petty is one of my heroes and I wanted to follow his example and showcase my band. It might have my name on it, but it belongs to all of us. For that reason, I was really clear about the whole band being in the photo for the album cover.

Peta has also taken a number of photos of your live performances. What do you look for in a gig photographer?

I like photos where the photographer is anonymous; they’re not staged or manufactured – they’re capturing the real performance. Once you’re out on stage there’s this sense of abandonment and I feel that Peta is really good at capturing that.

I also know I can trust her not to make me look like an idiot!

Do you have any advice for new musicians just starting out?

My message to other artists is to keep your personal integrity. People know what they’re getting from me now and I think that’s important. My music has never been fashionable. The single was charting on ITunes for a while and it seemed to be resonating, but that’s not why I do this. Don’t chase trends – be yourself.

'Admit Now, Pay Later' cover art

Bryan’s latest musical work is a three-single project. The cover art is a bit of a departure from Bryan’s other releases. His brief to Peta was to do something in a more illustrative style, and that there was a relationship between all three singles. Each cover has the same font applied, and the same effect used on the images, but different colours and imagery have been used.


The second single in the series, Admit Now, Pay Later, is out now.out now. You can find out more about Bryan Estepa on his website (also created by Talk Ink.).

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