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Khingz album art

Combining real-world and digital imagery with layered, creative thinking to bring lyrical genius to life visually.

An artwork ask

What do you do when one of the most talented, insightful and thoughtful rappers people you know asks you to design the art for the first single to be released off of his upcoming album? What if he follows up with a text to say he doesn’t have lots of visual ideas?

Well, first you freak out a little. Then you get to work.

Lyrical layering

Khingz is a rapper from Seattle who’s based in Vancouver, BC, and he is well known for his socially conscious messages and his incredible way with words.

His songs and albums always have multiple layers to their meaning, and I challenged myself to try to match his lyrical virtuosity with the visuals I created for “Good Gangster.” Not an easy task, but I’m always up for a challenge.

"Good aimer, raised off that good gangster... want good for the 'hood, and that's a good thing to know."

Manifesting multiple meanings

The lyrics of the song describe a man who’s gone from a violent past involving gangs and guns to one who’s trying to be a positive influence in his community. I used this notion of a soul pulled in different ways along with Khingz’s name as inspiration for the foundation of the artwork: the King of hearts, who’s often referred to as the suicide king.

I changed out the sword for a gun and a quill to reflect the artist’s weapons of choice in the two different parts of his life. Keeping with the theme of layered meaning, I took the title of the album and added an Ouroboros to the card’s design.

Inside info illustrated

From a custom illustration of Khingz’s face to hidden meaning in the ordering and choices of the cards laid on the table to changing a red suit to blue to including a purple heart and Alfred Hitchcocking myself into the design by way of a sticker? Well, there’s meaning everywhere.

On the execution front, I carved a real table with a real screw until my actual fingers blistered and bled, created my own bootleg photography lighting setup and then used Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator to bring it all together in a design that eventually became the artwork for the full album and the merch.

Make sure to listen to the song below, and check out more music from Khingz on Spotify and Bandcamp.