HOW SHANE GRIFFIN MADE PHARRELL WILLIAMS HAPPY
WNW Member #2782 Shane Griffin teamed up with Pharrell Williams and Penguin and Putnam to create the striking neon cover for Pharrell's upcoming book "Happy". The book, which hits shelves October 6th, brings the beloved song to the youngest of readers across cultures, celebrating what it means to be happy. Shane opens up about the process of designing the cover of "Happy", and Pharrell's main request: "He wanted the image to evoke a ‘feeling’, he wanted it to feel happy, rather than to be a big obvious smiley face." We also aimed to find out what happiness means to Shane, and if "Happy" plays on repeat in his happy place. Happy Wednesday!
Are you a big Pharrell Williams fan? Did you play "Happy" on repeat while you designed this book cover?
Pharrell is an inspirational dude, for sure, I mean the guy has been one of the most influential figures in pop culture for years. I was close to working with him on an Adidas project last year which unfortunately fell through, so it was great to get a second chance to work with him on this. Safe to say I’m a fan. I didn’t bump "Happy" when I was making this, though. Sorry, Pharrell.
How'd you come up with the look and feel? Was Pharrell involved in the process?
He was involved, but he’s a very busy guy, so not overly. His only main comment on the look of this was he wanted the image to evoke a ‘feeling’, he wanted it to feel happy, rather than to be a big obvious smiley face. I had a pretty clear idea from the guys at Penguin as to where they wanted to bring it; they wanted a lowercase childish font, but created in a modern bright space. They also were set on yellow as the key color.
Did you go through a bunch of different looks, or did you know the direction you wanted to go in right away?
Like every project, my first direction was probably miles away from the final piece. Creating a yellow neon on a white wall is no easy task, especially in print form. Nothing glows more than white, so you always fight with the background being a lighter tone than the neon. I went through probably 20 iterations of the cover, different wall textures, different floors, many many different neon looks.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was making the type legible when it’s tiny. It’s nearly impossible. Neons are tricky when they’re small, there’s a lot of detail and light spill crammed into a small space, it can get very busy. Balancing the colors is tricky also, so I had to test it on several screens / color spaces / print formats. We even experimented with fluorescent inks. What looks good on screen doesn’t always look good on paper!
This book is all about celebrating what it means to be happy. What does happiness mean to you?
Just to see people making the most of their life, fulfilling it with whatever they’re passionate about.
Where's your happy place?
On the beach with the dog.
Of all the amazing projects you've worked on, which one makes you the most proud and why?
The Sneakerball Sculpture for Nike was fun, I’m proud of that for a few reasons. Firstly, it was actually a very tight turn around, so I’m proud of what Nike and I accomplished in that short space of time regarding the modeling and design of the sculpture. Everybody went above and beyond to make it happen. Secondly, the social interaction was cool. I was watching the Instagram feed for the event, and it was a great feeling to see people enjoying the sculpture and taking photos with it. The final piece really felt one of a kind.