The Playlists Project

A little less than a year ago, I started collecting the new music I listened to into weekly Spotify playlists. I liked knowing when I’d first encountered a song, and if something popped into my head and I couldn’t remember the title or artist—which I typically can’t—having dated playlists of music I liked helped me track the song down. And at some point, because I wanted more creative projects and had a lot of typefaces I never got to use on anything, I started designing covers for them.

The one problem was that the music in the playlists was mostly random; a motley pile of whatever I liked at the moment. There were no titles, or any consistent genre or theme. The only identifying information was the date I’d created the playlists. That didn’t leave much to work with as far as anything that might inform a cover design.

So, having little else to go on, I started playing around with the date.

Turns out there’s more you can do with dates than you’d think.

I found that the most interesting approach was to express them in four-character MMDD format, and then play with the mathematical or geometric relationships I noticed between those four numbers:

September 309033 goes into 9 three times
December 101210Month and day share a number (1)
October 101010Line, circle, line, circle
January 20102Two 0’s, two sequential numbers
April 160416Both numbers are squares
July 107017 and 1 are visually similar

So every Monday, I do one of these things. They’re fun little exercises that get me thinking more about math, geometry, and type.

Even better, these projects are low-stakes and low-investment. Sounds jargon-y, but that’s the best way of putting it that I can think of. They’re minor and quick enough to not trip my perfectionist tendencies. They’re just for me. They’re not rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities; I don’t have to worry about getting them absolutely right. If something doesn’t work, I can just do another one next week.

Check it out.