Pen & Pixel’s Shawn Brauch Talks About Working on ‘Savage Mode II’ Artwork



The arrival of Savage Mode II, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin‘s brilliance-laden instaclassic, was fittingly accompanied by a nostalgic look back at the prolific era of Pen & Pixel album covers.

The Houston-based company was responsible for a number of signature pieces utilized by No Limit, Cash Money, and more before ultimately saying goodbye in 2003. Late last month, however, Metro Boomin told fans that Pen & Pixel had emerged from retirement for one last go-round in the form of the Savage Mode II cover.

And while it was never claimed that the final product marked an official Pen & Pixel cover, co-founder Shawn Brauch recently spoke with the Breaking Atoms podcast, revealing in detail his involvement with what would ultimately become the 21 and Metro cover that’s been so ubiquitous in recent days. 

“Primary sketch, that was approved; secondary sketch, inked in [with] all the details, approved. … The cover that you see out there has elements of the original cover,” Brauch said. “The full cover was done and done to the specifics that were indicated and the team came back and said ‘We wanna make these major changes.’ However, the deadline was the 17th and they came back to me on the 16th and I was like ‘But I got it done on the 14th because you had a major deadline for release on the 17th’ and they were like ‘Well, yeah, but we wanna make these major changes.'”

Brauch added that he was shocked by this last-minute request, which ultimately led to the artists’ team handling the changes on their own.

“I said, ‘Well, my heart is not in that,'” he reflected. “I said, ‘I can certainly do that for you, I’ll send you a new invoice, and we can move on to what your changes are going to be.’ And I never heard from them again. I deliver my deliverables to them and I never heard from them again. And then the next time, I see the cover come out. I’m like, wow, so that’s it. I was shocked to see it come out, obviously, and I was shocked to see that there were that many changes done to the cover. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but Pen & Pixel does not sell layered files. So the unfortunate part is they had to go back and dissect the covers I gave them to create that cover. And that was…I know it was a pain for them.”

Here’s the original iteration of the cover:

Savage Mode II, the abject incredibleness of which I will again point out here, recently opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and saw all its non-interlude tracks debut on the Hot 100. In addition to a trio of collabs, including a surprise one with Drake, the album is thematically held together via narration from none other than Morgan Freeman.



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