Shovels & Rope — By Blood

Shovels & Rope — By Blood Featured Image


Album Art & Videos


Charleston, SC

By Blood is the fifth album from folk-rock duo Shovels and Rope. It's drenched in both wild-eyed grit and delicate ache.

We wanted to create a visual universe that felt emotionally connected to the music. We found inspiration in the hand-lettered signs of Jesse Howard—outsider artist and legendary crank.


  • Creative Direction
  • Photography & Video
  • Film Direction
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration & Art

The artwork started with a simple idea: "Something dirty in a clean room."

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The relentless typographic art was inspired by the frustration-filled hand-lettered signs of Jesse Howard—outsider artist and legendary crank.

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Following in his obsessive footsteps, we hand-lettered every lyric of the album onto wooden boards, then documented and presented them with museum-like purity.

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The inner sleeve has two shrouded faces bound together... by blood.


This odd image led to a music video we made for the first single "The Wire" which you can watch below:

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At the end of the project we took all the signs and decorated the Made Shop bathroom :)

6 Typographic Mural Installation

Finally, we directed "Mississippi Nuthin'" which finds an absurdly overzealous director hijacking the entire shoot. Watch it below:

Grab the album at or stream it now on Spotify or iTunes


  • Creative Direction

    Marke Johnson

  • Art Direction

    Adam Blake

  • Design, Lettering, & Photography

    Marke Johnson, Adam Blake, Kyle Huninghake


Thanks to Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst for writing such haunting words and letting us bring them to obsessive life like this. Thanks to manager Paul Bannister and everyone at Dualtone. And of course thank you to Jesse Howard for the cantankerous inspiration.