Mat Cook’s ASCII art sleeves for Howie B

Graphic designer Mat Cook has created a striking ASCII art-style record sleeve for electronic DJ Howie B’s new album Down With the Dawn.

Graphic designer Mat Cook has created a striking ASCII art-style record sleeve for electronic DJ Howie B’s new album Down With the Dawn.

The album is Howie B’s first in five years and the inaugural release from his new record label, HB Recordings. Cook has designed the album’s cover using ASCII code manipulated in Photoshop and Quark, and a website mimicking monochrome monitor displays from the 1970s and 80s.

Cook says the album art is both a “graphic gag celebrating…a master of the electronic returning” and a visual reflection of Howie B’s music, which he creates using old electronic instruments and new production equipment.

While the artwork features ASCII (a coding system used in the early days of computing when data was input manually using punch cards) it was generated by a modern programme and corrupted in Photoshop to create a portrait of the DJ that features hidden codes and symbols, says Cook.

The first single release from the album, Frankie’s City, also features ASCII style graphics:

And the cover of follow up single Night Nice features what looks at first glance like randomly generated code, but in fact relays the story of the song: different times of night and a series of heart symbols tell the story of the track’s subject, a man who goes out, gets drunk and has a one night stand.

Subsequent releases will feature more modern coding styles, reflecting the development of computer code and technology, and all will feature hidden details and phrases, says Cook.

“I’ve always been a big fan of making [record sleeves] quite dense – on the top level you see a face but when you look closer, you reveal different narratives, phrases and lyrics,” he adds. “Hopefully, it captures the ethos of the record, which has a retro feel, but could only have been created using today’s equipment.”

Down with the Dawn is released in April – see for details.

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