Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Art and Art History

First Advisor

Tyler Barnes

Second Advisor

Brooke Alexander

Third Advisor

Nancy Balach

Relational Format



Vivi McCracken is my self-titled debut Extended Play Record (or EP) that consists of five original songs. This project encompasses all of my creative passions, with the aim of gaining knowledge of the music industry and what it takes to debut an album from concept to completion. I wrote the music, sang the songs for the recordings, and, for my BFA thesis exhibition, I designed all the graphics, merchandise, and collateral.

The cover art is intentionally minimal. I wanted the imagery to be the main focus, so I chose a condensed sans serif typeface that felt playful enough to complement the songs, while allowing the images to set the tone. I established the color palette around the photography. I art directed the photo shoot with my photographer, Abby Burgy, and planned the wardrobe and when and where we would shoot to create this light pink and white color palette. The concert posters also utilize this color palette for consistent branding, and I paired the condensed typeface from the covers with a contrasting thicker font that has roughened edges so that it appears to be printed, drawing inspiration from the letterpress traditions in gig-poster design. Introducing more of my hand into the collateral, I created merchandise for the EP as well, including three doodle-style self portrait sticker designs derived from both single covers and the EP cover and added my signature. Further, merch was created to accompany the album's promotion, including two T-shirts. The first shirt utilizes this signature from the stickers in the center of the shirt. The signature is placed on top of a repeating pattern made of the letters of my first name, creating a duality between the clean lines of the pattern and the handwritten aspect of the signature. Furthermore, the pattern can appear to read as my name, VIVI, or when looked at differently, it may appear as VM, my initials. The other T-shirt has a simplified drawing of the cover of my single, My Everything, with a gritty texture added to make it appear printed, as a reference to the gig posters.

I then planned the set up for all of these features and more in the gallery space for my BFA thesis exhibition. In the corner, I set up a listening table with a CD player on it that played the five songs from the EP, all at different stages of the recording process. Each of my songs begins with my guitar and my journal, so I hand wrote the lyrics to each song and displayed it alongside the CD player. The journal also describes how far each song is along in the process of recording. At the end of the journal, I left a space for the audience to interact and participate in the experience, prompting viewers to write about their own creative endeavors; what inspires them and what their creative outlet is. I firmly believe that everyone has creative capabilities, whether or not they choose to employ them as often as those we deem “creatives.” I thus wanted to use this opportunity to include the audience in my own creative endeavors by allowing them to consider their own inspiration.

I wrote the first entry in the journal, saying,

“ I find inspiration all around me. My own life, my friends’ lives, books that I’m reading, other musicians… the list goes on! I process everything through a creative outlet, whether that is design, painting, songwriting, etc.”

- Vivi M.

Some of the next few entries said the following.

“I find my inspiration in music. I can’t help but dance when a song inspires me.

- Carson Kuhr

“I find inspiration in nature and in all the relationships I have with people. I think we’re all little pieces of the people we encounter.”

- Maclain Kennedy

“Vivi, I find so much inspiration in how you put your life and thoughts into lyrics. It’s so amazing being your friend and living through these songs by your side.”

- Elizabeth Link.

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