Formed in 2006, the Yellow Bird Project is a collaboration between Matthew Scotland and Casey Cohen dedicated to using the powers of indie rock for good. The Montreal non-profit began by partnering with musicians to create unique t-shirt designs and then gave the profits to charities of the artists’ choosing. Next they teamed up with illustrator Andy J. Miller and published The Indie Rock Coloring Book. With activities like coloring the birds in Devendra Banhart’s beard yellow, drawing on hairstyles for the members of Broken Social Scene, and filling in Andrew Bird’s whistling, the book was a quirky and fun way to raise money for charity.
Now the same group has teamed with 30 visual artists to create a book of 11" x 14" posters, The Indie Rock Poster Book. Each print was inspired by a song chosen by Scotland and Cohen, with each artist interpreting the song visually as they saw fit. All the posters are removable from the book, with the artist describing the ideas behind their motif in varied degrees of detail on the back.
The book is filled with the same kind of whimsy with which the coloring book was imbued. The artists are lesser known (as far as rock poster art goes), so personal style never gets in the way of each representation. Even the treatment of somewhat dour songs is playful. For example, Ben Clapek’s take on “King’s Crossing” by Elliott Smith has an obvious degree of lightheartedness.
My one complaint would be that the color palette is rather dull, and it’s hard to tell whether it is the quality of the printing or a shared aesthetic between the artists (and presumably Yellow Bird Project). Or perhaps the color selection is reflective of the musicians chosen, some of whom lean toward boresville (Sufjan Stevens, Hayden, The National, etc.). But that’s a minor quip. There’s plenty of good work here worth hanging on one’s wall, with favorites including Mark Weaver’s interpretation of the Fleet Foxes’ “Your Protector,” Jim Stoten’s representation of Daniel Johnston’s “The Sun Shines Down on Me” and Greedy Hen’s take on the White Stripes’ “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket.” That all this is for a good cause is only better, and it’s hard to ignore the passion at work here.