Helen Rabbitte on embracing the line between art and design in her work for the music industry
Based in London, Hello Rabbit (Helen Rabbitte) creates immersive and imaginative designs for the music world. Reflecting the flow and rhythm of her client’s work, she has crafted EP covers, track artworks, and promo material for the likes of Peggy Gou, TS7, Alaina Castillo and Regard. Outside of the rigour of client work, she continues to find inspiration in music, dance and her own personal creations. We caught up with Rabbitte to find out more about her practice as Hello Rabbit Design and how she began pursuing the music pathway.
PT Hey Helen! How are you?
HR Really great thanks. Excited to chat with you.
PT Likewise :) When did you begin to work in the music industry, and how did you get into it?
HR I always wanted to work in music, but only really got serious about it once I left my in-house design job (at a food start-up) to go freelance.
The issue was that all the jobs I was getting were for food and drink packaging as I didn’t have anything music-related in my portfolio – so I started redesigning packshots from existing tracks and posting them on Instagram.
They thankfully gained some traction and eventually led to being commissioned by an artist. From there I kept in touch with her management which led to more work, more contacts and so on.
This taught me a really valuable lesson in that there’s a way around everything as long as you put the work in, and seize opportunities when they arise.
PT What do you think makes a stand-out album artwork?
HR I think anything that evokes an emotional response that complements or enhances the track(s) – as well as possesses a timeless quality so the artwork stays relevant over time.
I think for me, I love a record cover that encourages imagination, so we can all interpret it in our own way.
PT How do you typically start a new artwork? How do you find that starting point?
HR The first thing I do is listen to the track(s) and then create some really initial moodboards. I then usually speak with the artist and their management to have a clear and concise vision before I start working on anything.
The main reason I love designing album covers so much is because it sits in the perfect spot between art and graphic design. You don’t necessarily need to communicate anything, apart from what the music inspires – therefore it can be a lot more abstract and subjective.
PT Can you tell us about your self-initiated projects? What do you enjoy working on?
HR I usually do self-initiated projects when I’ve been inspired by something that doesn’t necessarily fit into any of my commissioned briefs. It’s usually just a bit of fun so I can either learn a new skill or experiment. They just allow me to be a bit more expressive and have a bit more free reign.
PT Do you have any favourite visual references and sources of inspiration?
HR I find dance culture really inspiring, which definitely leans into my work. It has so much history and the visual aspect goes hand-in-hand with the music.
In terms of artists, Peter Haars, Horacio Salinas Blanch, Konrad Klapheck, Hajime Sorayamas – basically anything 70s/80s, surreal and slightly psychedelic.
HR I’d worked with Krankbrother (the host of TPG) on a few previous projects. They asked me to pitch some ideas to Peggy and her management, and it went from there.
They’re such a great team to work with and really understand the creative process – giving you enough space to explore and develop ideas whilst providing really great support. We create a different visual universe around each show, and it always feels like a huge team effort.
We’ve just finished The Pleasure Gardens 4, and it’s so exciting to see how it’s grown year on year.
PT Sounds great! And what have you been working on lately?
HR I’m juggling a few exciting things at the minute. A branding project for a music label, a few track artworks, and some animated visuals for a show.