album cover design


As a kid I had never met anyone that had been in space. This is a photo of me dressed up as an astronaut for Hallowe’en (click the READ MORE button if you don’t see the photo). I’m probably around 10 or 11 (the cute little girl is my awesome kid-sister Jennifer, always outshining me in photos). The brown cereal on my face (yeah it was cereal, applied with honey — eck) is suppose to look like a radiation burn – even as a kid I knew that being an astronaut was a very dangerous, yet exciting, job.


I had never met anyone who had been in space. I remember watching the NASA’s ‘Challenger’ tragically explode live on TV as Christa McAuliffe was on that mission. She was selected among 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. She had trained for months and almost every school in North America was showing the launch live in classrooms. Its a day, and image, I’ll never forget. I realized very young how brave astronauts must be.

I grew up in a sci-fi family, we looked to our screens for our space needs (not the skies). My family were pretty proud nerds, still are – our church was Star Wars, E.T., The Last Star Fighter, V, and the X-Files. I had never met anyone who had been in space. We had a healthy interest in the great beyond, but I can’t say there was much scientific knowledge batting around in our off-world-debates.

My old band, Wintersleep, had written and released a song called “Astronaut”, our curiosity about what lies just beyond the skies was apparent.

First Contact:

I had never met anyone who had been in space, until this year. Imagine my excitement when I was asked to come up with concepts and designs for Canadian astronaut, and International Space Station Commander, Chris Hadfield’s debut album! I’d watched him sing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on the international space station (over 26 million YouTube plays so far). I watched him sing along with students from schools all across Canada live from the space station, and of course have seen the wave of popularity he’s received around the world that continues long after he landed back on earth.

Commander Hadfield recorded the vocals and acoustic guitars for the album while on the International Space Station. The music on this album is the first pieces of art created in space that would be available to the public. Did I want to work on this project? Hell yeah I did!!!!

As luck would have it, Chris Hadfield was going to be in St. John’s, so we booked a face to face. I’ve been lucky to meet, and work with, a lot of incredible people, its been one of the perks to being a graphic designer and musician, but an astronaut?! Amazing! We sat and chatted about the album, his missions to space, being a test-pilot of Canadian fighter jets and his image appearing on our five dollar bill. I was immediately struck by how incredibly friendly Chris was. He was relaxed and casual, I tried to give off the presence that I was too. Just another day, right? haha, nope. I tried to stay on topic and ask questions about the album that would help me come up with artwork ideas, but I could tell Chris was comfortable talking about what most people want to hear when they have his ear, ‘space’. It was clear that this was probably my smartest client, no offence to other clients, but this guy exudes a level of intelligence and charisma that I’ve not encountered often. He’s an astronaut after all, they’re probably all good at math, science, sports, and stuff.

We were joined by his son Evan, and nephew Aaron, who are part of Chris’ business team. It warmed my heart that this was a family operation. Very cool. The boys carry the same level of confidence and knowledge as Chris, I knew this was going to be a fun project. The meeting concluded with an elevator ride and the four of us said our goodbyes.


My mind was racing – how do you design the first album recorded in space? This question stuck with me for a couple weeks. I really wasn’t sure what the answer was, but knew it would come to me.


I set out on the first phase of every good design project, “research”. For a solid week I listened to every interview I could find of Chris Hadfield. I looking at hundreds of photos of his space travels, jet flights and speaking tours. I learned as much about his life as I could, his childhood and how he had decided at age 9 (around the same age I dressed up as an astronaut for Hallowe’en) that he wanted to be an astronaut and how almost every decision he made from that day forward were all made to move him closer to his goal.

The album was produced by Robbie Lackritz, a music manager and producer whom I have worked with before. I called Robbie and we chatted at length about the album, Robbie’s impressions from the hours he has spent with Chris Hadfield, and where he thought the artwork should take things. Now with the research phase of the project coming to a close, I started to sketch some ideas.

A Space Odyssey:

At first, I had thought to try a cover concept that didn’t focus on space themes. I wanted to make something that was a great album cover, and maybe there would be a subtle space reference somewhere, but overall it would be a Chris Hadfield album, not an astronaut’s album cover. I was sent the album’s music to listen to, and immediately realized that ‘space’ was a huge theme in many of the songs, so it only made sense to represent it on the cover.

A sphere on a black background – the earth, the moon, orbit, Chris’ face… I wanted to represent the northern lights as Chris had said you see them dancing constantly in space. I looked to have elements that would speak to Chris’ childhood, growing up on a farm. And the steps in his career that led to this album, his love for Canada, the world, and Toronto’s Maple Leafs.

Chris’ mustache has also become a part of his public personality, often times being referenced by fans. Was there a way to incorporate the mustache? In the end I decided against it, but not before trying a couple layouts that included a mustache, the cover was taking a serious tone and the moustache would have been too silly. In our meeting, Chris had said that what he loved the sense of “odd” he got from looking at my portfolio — so I also knew I could have fun with this one as long as it wasn’t too silly.

Once I had my ideas organized, I sent them on to Chris and Evan to see what they thought. Evan replied saying he wasn’t sure if my concepts were quite right, he’d have to see it first.

I started with some pencil sketches, which I’ll admit weren’t looking great. I was starting to doubt that this idea was going to work. Evan might be right.

The only way to know for sure if I was on the right track, was to try it. I moved to the computer, and began using Adobe Illustrator, and the cover began to take shape.


My starting point showed potential and I knew I was on the right track. I developed the concepts much further from here, but once seeing this initial layout I felt I was heading in a good direction.

It took three or four days to flush out all the colours and elements. I immediately sent off the Chris and Evan.

I wanted viewers of this cover to feel something. I wanted it to look like classic war-time poster designs, but also the science fiction novels and comics of the ’50s and ’60s.

After 24 nerve-wracking hours word came in and they liked the cover. Phew! Chris pointed out some subtle details I had gotten wrong: The space-walking astronaut was wearing a jet pack, and Chris didn’t use one on his space-walks. He also noted that the small fighter jets I illustrated were F16s, but he had actually flown F-18s and F-86s, so I replaced them with the new models. And lastly, I had depicted a NASA shuttle, which Chris had flown on his first two space missions, but on his third he flew a Russian Soyuz rocket, and asked if I could include one of those. How cool was this? I was discussing the differences between fighter jets and rocket ships with a man who has actually flown them.


Once we had a cover that the boys all liked I wanted to send it to the album’s producer, Robbie. I was actually more nervous of what his reaction would be than anyone else involved. Robbie is VERY good at what he does. He’s an amazing music producer, and equally amazing band manager. I’ve worked with him before and his ideas had always been a couple years ahead. He has asked me to do things that I had never seen before and didn’t think were possible, and I’d figure it out. Thankfully he liked the artwork as well. Cover is done.

When the record was announced social media erupted with comments of love and excitement for the album and it’s cover. David Bowie posted about it on his website and social media which of course applified everyone’s excitement.


Newfoundland audiences showed me a lot of love as there are many Commander Hadfield fans here. My favourite congratulation came from my niece Kiera however, who made this drawing and got every detail perfect (Thanks Kiera!).


Everything you’ve read up until this point was written back in 2015 in the days between the album being announced and when it came out for sale. I’m jumping back in here, years later to talk about what happened after the album came out… :^)

Warner Music, the label who hired me, had no interest in pressing an LP and insisted CDs were enough. I hated the idea and wanted to see this out as a record so I pushed hard to change their minds. Chris and his team seemed good either way and I felt like I might be burning a bridge with the label to push too hard for them to spend a ton of money on pressing vinyl. What won the battle was when I sent along a little mockup image of Letterman introducing bands holding CDs and LPs — I knew Chris was going to be going to be doing a lot of press to promote the album and I wanted to show how less impressive it was on TV to be holding a little CD as compared to big beautiful LP…. I was like “you’re not going to send a man who has made it to space on TV with a little CD”… it worked!

We not only got the go head to press LP, but the jacket was a full gatefold and I even managed to talk them into letting me include a full size booklet and limited edition version which came with extras and were signed and numbered by Chris! …. much better.

Not to be outdone, I guess everyone wanted to make sure that the cover was seen by the folks in the back and Chris’ promo tour included a huge banner for all press stops (photos taken from my bud David Mouland’s Facebook).

I have designed a lot of records over the years, so many that I kind of have no idea what the total would be…. it’s in the hundreds, but no record I worked on had ever received so much excitement from friends, family and the media as this Chris Hadfield one. Immediately after its release I started getting requests to do interviews from all over — I did do a few as it was rare to be invited to talk about one of my projects. I hadn’t realized just how big of a star Chris Hadfield had become and felt overwhelmed by the love that poured in about the project. One of the interviewers exclaimed “you do know how big of a deal this album is, right?!?” — until that moment I’m not sure I 100% did.

To date it’s still the project that generates the most excitement on the street. When I do talks I can see eyes widen and there is almost always an audible gasp or reaction when I mention that I worked on Chris Hadfield’s album. I’ll show some slides and tell some stories of meeting Chris and everyone pays attention, its the one moment where no one is on their phone or doodling in a book.

My album cover art was reinterpreted into a Mission Patch, Nasa style. Not sure what these were used for but it did make me real proud to see them.

At a family gathering a few months after the record’s release, the husband of one of my girlfriend’s cousins talked to me about how much of a fan he was of Chris Hadfield. How he had been following Chris’ stories and photos the whole time he was up on the space station and looked forward to his daily photos that showed our planet from a perspective the rest of us could only dream about. Roy had always been an active man, an avid bicyclist and sports fan, but had been in a tragic accident a number of years earlier and now was paralyzed from the neck down. He talked to me about his fascination with weightlessness and how he thought it would be to float around the space station. I wrote Chris to tell him about Roy — how much Roy admired all Chris had accomplished and looked forward to his next big adventure. He sent back a lovely response, and a couple weeks later there was a package at my door, a box of signed books made out to Roy. It was such a kind gesture, a beautiful gift that I’m sure Roy appreciated and loved. That’s Chris Hadfield, he’s accomplished a lot in his life; he’s a hyper intelligent pilot who became an astronaut; Canada’s first space commander and the first Canadian to conduct a space walk… but he’s also an artist, a Dad, and a very very nice man who cares about the rest of us. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know him a little. Huge thanks to Commander Hadfield, his son Evan and nephew Aaron for the opportunity. This has been one hell of an exciting project both as an artist, and a fan.

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to hear about recording this album up and more in the words of the man himself, Chris Hadfield and producer Robbie Lackritz made this audio story — it’s really interesting and fun.

Click here for more PROCESS STORIES of projects I’ve worked on.

About the Author

Jud Haynes is an illustrator, graphic designer and musician living in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada)


  1. absolutely fantastic, Jud!! You did a great job

  2. Hi Jud, Long way from babysitting. I always remember how highly Mom spoke of you. Congratulations on a great job.

    • Those were the days, drawing pictures after the kids went to sleep on babysitting jobs. Nice hearing from you again Maryann!

  3. I love The music and I love your Cover art. I sketched out my interpretation of the album and posted it to his FB pages. I am also an artist and always interested in other artist’s process…in case you are interested, here is what I’m working on.

    I am trying to make a go at being a self-supporting ARTIST. I am putting together a portfolio for sale, if you’re interested. I have also just launched a Kickstarter project I hope you will support and spread the word about. Please go to my Kickstarter project site to see the entire project, not just the video:


    If you try to pursue creativity, chances are you will experience a conflict between the work you love and the practicalities of life. You must look ELSEWHERE…

    I’m Dan Tomberlin. I’m an artist and would like you to consider funding my project I am calling The Studio Elsewhere Project.

    I’m seeking your support for the continued exploration and evolution of my drawings and artwork and to help me become a self-supporting artist. And a space to do it…

  4. This was an incredible story, and a great glimpse at your process. Thanks for sharing!

    • No problem Meghan – its all in good fun. See you soon.

  5. When I saw the first post with this cover design, my genuine reaction was ‘I really like that artwork’. I think you’ve managed to combine wartime poster style and 50/60s retro sci-fi feel really well. It was interesting to read about the back story. Great job!

  6. Great, thanks for sharing this blog.Really thank you! cfdaeebecdkaekeg

  7. Hi Jud! My husband is a huge fan of Chris Hadfield–we actually played his version of “Space Oddity” at our wedding. I heard about this post through Chris Hadfield’s facebook page, and while I read through it, I noticed…the “i” in “Chris” and “Hadfield” is angled to the right. Could you talk a little bit about that design choice? I really like it, but I’m curious what your intention was–obviously every design choice is deliberate, and this one is a neat (but unexplained) detail.

    • Hi Bailey – I didn’t get too much in to why I italicized the two “i”s in Chris Hadfield’s name as it was the only design item on the cover that didn’t really have a conceptual purpose. I liked how it looked, and was pleasantly surprised that the two letters lined up perfectly when italicized, to make a forward moving line. I could have easily justified it by saying it shows a forward moving life path, or something like that, but in all honesty it just looked kind of cool, and offered a little bit of uniqueness to the simple typography used on this cover. Thanks for the comments – say high to your husband and happy holidays!

  8. Hey Jud, awesome project. Really interesting to read how it came together and a great result.

    • Thanks James! I just checked out a bunch of your work as well, really amazing! Love your logo work especially!

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