Illustrated Tapes 155: Slow Dance Heartbreak

Curated by Stella Williams

Stella is an illustrator based in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Hey Stella. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

‘Slow dance’ songs tend to be very sweet and lovely and maybe make you think about getting married someday. I was really interested in the idea of having such a slow, intimate, romantic moment but for the vibes to have impending sadness in them. There are happy songs and solitary sad songs and I wanted to explore the loneliness in holding someone you want to love you back. This is a collection of songs that make you feel like you’re slow dancing with someone that’s about to break your heart.

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

I’m really inspired by mid-century, poppy art styles, which also lines up with the general time period I associate with school dances. Slightly overlapping this, I’m hugely influenced by 70s film/book covers in genres like science fiction and romance. This illustration started as a wide, very abstract full body portrait with an overwhelming number of doves and balloons in the background. After playing around a little bit I felt the composition and goal of the playlist benefitted from focusing in on the pair.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

Heart – Dreamboat Annie
1975, Mushroom Records
Photography: Toby Rankin
Layout: Captain Paste-up
Typography: Jim Rimmer

This cover kinda has it all. Hearts, Heart, amazing fonts, excellent colors. The cover art is so dreamy and relaxed compared to how wild their music makes you feel and I love that combination.

Jorge Santana – Jorge Santana
1978, Ariola / Tomato
Design: Milton Glaser
Illustration: John Kacere

Swan Lake Acts Il And Ill – Tchaikovsky – Leopold Stokowski
1955, RCA Victor Red Seal
Photography: David B. Hecht

These two vinyls were hung on my bedroom wall all through high school. In person they both have such delicate coloring, I’m really drawn to how elegant and graceful they both are. I love a sil/serif/cool tone pairing!!

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
2003, EMI  / Virgin
Dir: Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Music: Daft Punk feat. Romanthony, Todd Edwards, DJ Sneak

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem was such an amazing companion piece to Daft Punk’s Discovery album. They always had such fun visuals in their music videos, but this film really transported the feeling of the music into something tangible. Like, yeah, this is what Daft Punk’s music looks like. Just such a cool creative marriage.

What did you listen to growing up?

Growing up I listened to what my cool young mom listened to – The Strokes, Tracy Chapman, The Chicks, Indigo Girls, Dido, Norah Jones. From there I got really into Arcade Fire, Fall Out Boy and other pseudo pop-punk stuff. The early 2000s made some really angsty music for angsty kids.

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Mitski, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Kate Bush and ABBA always. I think I’m entering my Rolling Stones era which is exciting too.

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

I’m working on a series of gouache painted objects that center around different themes, like deep ocean, bugs, gothic romance. I will be selling them, right now I’m in the painting part. As a primarily digital artist it’s so rewarding to touch and hold the thing I’ve made, and it’s really special getting to share these objects with people.

Where can we find you?

Instagram: @_stella_williams
Twitter: @stellaAzella

Thanks Stella!