David Bowie’s catalog spans 27 albums over six decades. Best guesses on how many total songs that discography encompasses comes in around 350–which is a heck of a legacy for anybody to leave behind. (That’s not including the rumored posthumous releases, which may include still more new songs.) That includes classic albums like Scary Monsters, Space Oddity, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, as well as, er, less iconic releases like Earthling and Hours…. But if you want to get to know each of those songs better, you could do worse than listening to each of them for hours on end and then creating a poster that captures the images that came to you.
That’s what graphic designer/illustrator (and Bowie fan, naturally) Maia Valenzeula has been doing since January 20. A little over a week after Bowie’s death, she launched her Tumblr, Bowie Is Bowie, to share the posters she’s in the process of making for every single Bowie song.
“I’ve always admired him, and when I heard of his death, I was really sad. He’s such an icon for our generation, and so creative in his musical endeavors and in terms of reinventing himself,” Valenzuela says of the project’s origins. So far, she’s 24 posters deep–with a collection that spans hits like “Fame” and “Space Oddity” as well as deep cuts like “Lazarus” from this year’s Blackstar and “As The World Falls Down” from the Labyrinth soundtrack.
Valenzuela creates each of the posters digitally (though she says she might switch that up in the future and explore pen-and-ink), in a style she says is inspired by ’70s psychedelia and Russian propaganda posters. Then it’s a matter of getting the song stuck in her head, as she determines what to illustrate.
“It really starts off with the lyrics,” she says. “I take a bit of the song, listen to the song, and then everything is a cerebral process–what colors inspire me, what sort of visuals I need–and then, of course, putting it all together. That takes about one to three hours a poster. Sometimes I really get into it and make up to three posters a day, but other days I only do one.”
Valenzuela may not have been a Bowie superfan at the beginning (“there are a lot of songs that I’m not that familiar with,” she admits), but the project is deepening her appreciation for him–and hopes that it gives his fans something to look forward to, too. “I get a deeper connection every time I create a design for a poster,” she says. “Maybe on some level I’m keeping Bowie alive through my artwork, or maybe I’m in a denial of sorts–who knows? But for now, it’s really fun to just create something out of his music.”