Album covers strike a chord

Buenos Aires-based graphic designer Max Rompo designs boldly graphic album covers for Argentina’s tango and jazz musicians.

Like Swiss designer Niklaus Troxler, whom we interviewed last September, Argentine Max Rompo’s graphic design work focusses largely on the music world. He designs music posters and album covers for some of the stars of Argentina’s jazz and tango scenes. 

“Rompo” is a pseudonym taken from the word “rompe”, meaning disturbing and restless, which his parents used to describe him as a child. Born and raised on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Rompo began designing flyers for friends in bands when he was a teenager. While he went on to study graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires, his earlier experiences were more formative, he says.

Rompo’s most recent cover design is for a collection of unpublished contemporary works by OTAG (the Orquesta Típica Agustín Guerrero), one of the most talented young tango artists in Argentina. It features the image of a cat on a mirrored surface.

“When you read OTAG backwards you get ‘gato’, which means ‘cat’ in Spanish. That’s why we have printed the album on a mirror surface,” he says.

“It is not a revisionist album so the design could not be retro; it needed to be as modern as it could without losing it’s coherence to the genre.”

Rompo begins all his designs in black and white, explaining that if the ideas don’t work first in monochrome then the words and shapes themselves are not strong enough. Only later will he begin to add colour, keeping the effect simple. He works closely with the musicians that recruit him:

“I always prefer personal contact with the artist so we can brainstorm together. Those meetings are the best part of every project,” he says. “The design depends on each artist and this close contact helps me understand what the client thinks about his own work, his audience and life. Making him feel as reflected as I can in our work is my main aim.”

Rompo is currently working on several album designs for Argentinian artists, such as Pipi Piazzolla, Gonzalo Aloras, Nahuel Briones, and La Ciudad Bajo La Niebla, as well as the identity for the Morcifest music festival. He is also working on popular Argentinian singer Leo García’s weekly flyers and live show scenery.