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Cagle Cut A Rug

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Spring for many this year, consisted of avocados making a comeback, desperate mothers disappointed by the Hunger Games then inspired by 50 Shades of Gray, and Tupac conjured from the great beyond by Snoop Dogg’s hypnotic rhymes. At ST8MNT we were busy painting cowboys, and wrangling type. We had the privilege of working with Bigger Picture Group on Chris Cagle’s new full length “Back In The Saddle”, which releases June 26th.

BPG had Dale Manning shoot some great photos of Chris Cagle at his beautiful ranch in Oklahoma, where Chris raises horses and practices his passion of cutting (the equestrian sport). BPG expressed interest in doing a fully illustrated package utilizing Dale’s shots. A fully illustrated package is usually out of the norm since photos of the artist are the usual go, so we jumped at the chance of crafting the look for Cagle’s new album. They pitched the idea of doing a Western inspired look, so we started pulling imagery from vintage Men’s Magazine illustrations, Westerns, pulp covers, and Mexican cinema of old to give it a sort of movie poster vibe. We gave Bob Cahill over at Bigger Picture a call explaining the movie poster feel, and he gave us the thumbs up.


With the typographic Cagle lockup on the cover we wanted to utilize period-style fruit crate lettering, which would complement the illustration of Chris cutting.

Cagle Type Treatment

By the way, if you were raised in the burbs like me, the term “cutting” sounds like it might mean self-injury or hurting the animal. It’s an equestrian sport in which a rider on horseback separates a cow or calf from the rest of the herd and bars the cow from trying to return to the group. Here’s an insightful Wikipedia article on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutting_(sport).

In developing the cover illustration, we referenced and utilized aspects of Dale Manning’s photos of Chris cutting and riding horses on his ranch in Oklahoma. We the painted numerous watercolors and gouache renderings of the image, and prepared digital paintings with Painter, Photoshop, and a few other digital illustration programs. We then combined the photo pieces, watercolor/gouache renderings , and digital paintings.

Watercolor/Gouache & Digital Painting

During the process of creating cover comp options and sending them to Bigger Picture, we learned that the illustration’s composition, portrayed Chris as losing to the cow. See how in the image the cow is running away from Chris and the horse, that’s bad. We had no clue! ST8MNT, composed of type lovers, design geeks, and musicians isn’t the most cow-savvy, though two of us can ride a horse without falling on our asses.

Here’s the dumbed down explanation of a designer’s understanding of cutting:

The sport of cutting seems similar to a soccer goalie defending the goal against another player, except imagine the goalie is really good at riding a more experienced goalie who is keeping the offensive player away from the Gatorade stash on the sidelines. Horses have to be specially trained on how to separate the cow away from the herd, and keep them somewhat cornered from the group. The horse does all of the work reading the cow’s moves and reacting to them, while the rider has able to hang on. This is how cutting events are judged, on how well of a bouncer the horse and rider are outside the local watering hole minus the Affliction tee. Here’s a video to better explain the sport:

But back to the cow running away. We turned the cow around to appear cornered like the last remaining piece in chess. Checkmate, cover done!

“Back In The Saddle” Cover

For the rest of the package we wanted to showcase Cagle riding and relaxing on his prairie homestead.

Booklet Spreads
CD Package

Shortly after we finalized the art, Josh and Bethany traveled to Alabama, for a family wedding being held on a farm, where they practice cutting as well. Where they saw this…

Farm Sign

Strange, huh?

– Austin Hale