Graphic designer tackles the music industry

(Photo by Aniek Hoevers Photography)

Rising junior Emma Boudin works late into the night on art pieces spread across her living room floor, carefully editing graphics directly on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Boudin spends hours choosing between bright neon colors and searching for new design inspiration in music. 

“My designs are so much more accessible to everyone because it’s graphic,” said Boudin, who is majoring in design. “Through graphic work, you can just do and make anything, like digital portraits, posters, album covers … I love how it makes everything so easy.”

When she was a student at Long Island High School for the Arts in New York, Boudin was initially interested in installation art and fine arts, including more tactile forms such as paintings and sculptures. But Boudin’s high school curriculum and after-school arts program eventually led her to develop an interest in graphic design. 

During her senior year of high school, she was hired to create a merchandise logo for her first client, female musician Vaeda Black. After the project, Boudin decided she wanted to work with other artists and have her designs showcased in the music industry. Boudin promotes her recent work and past experience in freelance design directly on her social media. 

Boudin posts her designs to the Instagram account “Boudin Collective” where she aims to develop her personal brand. Using social media, Boudin has connected with local artists and found new projects to take on. According to Sara Sturek, a rising junior majoring in creative writing and communication, Boudin has found ways to support other artists. 

“Emma’s definitely a champion for all artists,” Sturek said. “She’s always buying people’s work, even if they’re just starting, just to show her support or promoting on social media, like [she’ll] be posting stories and then attending galleries all over Downtown.” 

Boudin has sought to organically grow her social media presence. Similar to an art gallery, social media has allowed Boudin to showcase her artwork, giving her followers a sense of who she is as a person and creative. A social media presence is important for budding artists who are looking to highlight their work within an art exhibition, Boudin said.    

“If you’re an up-and-coming artist and you don’t have social media, usually galleries won’t take you,” Boudin said. “You really need to have like some sort of social presence in order to showcase your work or who you are.” 

Boudin is also the vice president of web design for SPEC, a USC magazine focused on fashion, lifestyle and wellness. She spends her days at the Roski School of Art and Design completing homework assignments and creating digital content for the magazine’s Instagram and merchandise. 

“[SPEC] is an on-campus lifestyle fashion blog magazine, and we basically just talk about everything under the sun, like what’s trending in pop culture,” Boudin said. “I also do a little bit of creative direction for SPEC.” 

Boudin’s background in fine arts has given her work more depth, according to rising junior Benjamin Matza. Her work is versatile — she has created designs for album and podcast covers and websites — but her style remains distinctive. Boudin is willing to take risks, especially by incorporating bright colors into her designs, Matza said.   

“She is willing to explore colors way more than most people,” said Matza, who is majoring in design. “She has really identifiable interests, and she incorporates that into her work.” 

(Art courtesy of Emma Boudin)
The bold graphic above was created for Boudin’s first client, Vaeda Black. 

Boudin’s proficiency in Adobe software and her experience in freelance design have helped her carry out her role as the head of digital and web design for the digital magazine and multimedia brand Off the Cassette. The magazine was founded by USC students Caroline Vein, a rising junior majoring in narrative studies, and Sophee Loftus, a rising senior majoring in cinema and media studies. 

The mission of Off the Cassette is to create a platform where artists and music-lovers can discuss music and collaborate. Off the Cassette curates music playlists and posts weekly blogs to its website. The project is run by a group of young women who advocate for more female representation in an industry that is primarily male-dominated. 

“I feel like the music industry is very male-driven. That’s something that has always irked me, and it drives me even harder,” Boudin said. “I just want women to have more of a say in the music industry.”

Off the Cassette has kept Boudin busy during quarantine because it requires group collaboration and consistent social media posts weekly to maintain value and engagement, she said. Boudin finds this project to be empowering, since she is surrounded by hardworking and talented women. 

“It’s just so empowering, like speaking to these talented women that are so driven. It’s really inspiring to me,” Boudin said.

But despite her busy schedule, Boudin finds time to attend concerts with friends and family. Boudin is an avid concertgoer who keeps a long list of concerts she has attended where she draws inspiration for her graphic designs, Matza said. 

“She’s really influenced by rock as well as more electronic [music] like Tame Impala type stuff, and I think that a lot of what she kind of imbues into her work is [a] sporadic and really energetic kind of design,” Matza said. 

When creating her designs, Boudin listens to all genres of music. In March, she reached out to rapper BambyH2O upon hearing from a friend that he was in search of album art for an unreleased project. Boudin completed her first album cover for Bamby in which she was given most of the creative control, but for now it is being kept under wraps. 

Moving forward, Boudin said she will continue to create designs for musicians and provide them with remarkable creative direction. A musician’s visual brand identity, especially one that can be digitally admired, is extremely important, she said.  

“I want my designs to be in the music industry, and I really want to work and cater and design and curate brand identities for artists,” Boudin said.“I think a visual brand identity is just super important for musicians. I think if you don’t have a cool visual component of who you are, it’s almost like then, ‘Who are you?’”