I eventually became part of her team, and years later I found myself tasked with creating the cover for her upcoming self-titled album. A lot had changed since her debut. She performed at the Academy Awards, was nominated for a Grammy, starred in her first major motion picture, and executive-produced the soundtrack. She had come a long way from the enigmatic “Back & Forth” girl hidden behind baggy jeans and sunglasses, and she was on the cusp of entering a new chapter. I felt that the album cover needed to be an announcement of her arrival as a woman. I had poured through hundreds of photos from some of the most notable photographers of the day, before finally settling on a photo by Albert Watson that just felt like the one. I wasn’t sure exactly why, but I decided to tint the photo red. Most of my artistic decisions are based on instinct over reason, and it just felt like it needed to be red.
After her passing, the album cover felt strange to me. The album was a commercial and critical success, and she suddenly became immortalized in that image, a new icon trapped in time. I remember looking at it closely, and it suddenly felt like something from a distant past, even though the photo was taken less than a year before. It made me sad to look at it.
When I look at this cover image now, I see it differently once again. I see it as a celebration. She is in the moment, exuding confidence and maturity. She no longer feels trapped in time; she feels alive. The red makes more sense to me now. It feels like love and passion. It’s a color that has reappeared a lot in my work since then. - Warren Fu
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