Ranging from stage design, album art, guerilla marketing initiatives and more, we take a look at 10 of the best consulting projects headed up by Kanye West’s creative collective DONDA.
The first rule of DONDA is you do not talk about DONDA. Shrouded in secrecy since it was founded by Kanye West, the multi-platform creative agency named after his mother is comprised of architects, graphic designers, directors musicians, producers, writers, publicists, social media experts and other polymath creatives, all recruited by West, presumably with the aim of creating dope shit, as is often Kanye’s main impulse.
Although we know quite little about DONDA’s inner workings, the group is sometimes referred to in jest as as “Virgil Abloh’s laptop,” and while Abloh is certainly near the top of the hierarchy, we know for certain that other names on the DONDA payroll include Matthew Williams, Justin Saunders, Joe Perez, Nabil Elderkin, Jerry Lorenzo, and, of course, Don C & Ibn Jasper. The mysterious consortium doesn’t operate in just one medium, and thus far in its relatively short life span, DONDA’s output has ranged from album artwork, set design, print, and creative consulting in a greater sense.
DONDA arrived on the scene in 2011 with a full branding and marketing package for Kanye West and Jay Z’s Watch The Throne tour. Since then, Roc Nation signed on to manage all DONDA music projects, and the discreet collective has stayed steady hustling.
Heralded as Kanye’s first solo tour following a five-year hiatus, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Yeezus tour was weighty. From the Yeezus tour merch designed in partnership with Wes Lang, to other assorted promotional materials, music videos, right down to the stage design itself – a certain giant mountain backlit by projections on a massive moon-shaped screen may come to mind – DONDA had its collective hands in nearly every aspect.
Check out our brief recap of Kanye West’s recent performance at Glastonbury Festival.
Trailer for The Canyons starring Lindsay Lohan (DONDA Edit)
One of the first signs that Kanye had no intentions of restricting DONDA’s work to niche, tastemaker markets was this trailer edit of Lindsay Lohan’s erotic thriller titled The Canyons from 2013, penned by writer Bret Easton Elllis of American Psycho fame. While most of DONDA’s work is kept within the realm of music, this project marked one exception to the rule. Officially dropped as a “trailer remix,” you can catch the full flick over on iTunes.
Big Sean’s Hall of Fame Cover Art
Before Tyga’s The Gold Album, Nicki Minaj’s Pinkprint, Pusha T’s MNIMN, or any of the other DONDA-powered album art, there was Big Sean’s Hall of Fame. This particular cover was an outstanding example that all roads lead to Kanye. Big Sean and DONDA are direct products of Kanye’s wheelhouse, and as more in-house creative channels are created, the need for outsourcing outside the West camp is greatly diminished.
Peep the visuals for Big Sean’s track “All Your Fault” featuring Kanye West.
YEEZY Season 1 Invite
Attendees of the New York presentation for Kanye’s YEEZY Season 1 alongside adidas Originals would have received their invite in the form of a nondescript package, containing the address of the show, as well as a white anorak jacket with “YEEZY” printed along the arms in silver lettering.
Sandcastle Kings Book
Kimye’s fairy tale wedding at Forte Belvedere just outside of Florence, Italy was presided over by a Miami-based pastor by the name of Rich Wilkerson Jr. More recently, when Wilkerson needed someone to design the cover of his upcoming book, Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World, he turned to DONDA.
Nowhere / A Bathing Ape 20th Anniversary
For A Bathing Ape’s 20th anniversary, the DONDA collective cooked up this limited graphic to be used on an official DONDA x A Bathing Ape T-shirt. The design takes A Bathing Ape’s signature ape head logo and gives it a distressed, minimalist treatment, which reflects the hallmark aesthetic that DONDA has injected into so many projects.
Kim Kardashian’s Selfish Book by Rizzoli
Kim Kardashian’s selfie tome was either a stroke of sheer marketing genius, or an over-indulgent publicity stunt, depending on who you ask. If you have ever checked out Kim’s Instagram page, you’ll have some idea of what to expect when flipping through the pages of Selfish. The unique hard-copy collectible was reportedly the brainchild of DONDA’s Justin Saunders.
New Slaves Projection Campaign
An example of guerilla marketing at its very best; for the rollout of Kanye’s “New Slaves” single, DONDA enlisted the help of affiliates in more than 60 major cities around the world to project a teaser video on various major landmarks. Although the initiative encountered some opposition from local police, Kanye’s giant face was projected across dozens of buildings in Europe and North America.
Bound 2 Music Video
Although it experienced a comical amount of backlash, namely in the form of a parody video starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, “Bound 2” dared to venture into aesthetic territory that most others would not. Conceptually, the video – directed by Nick Knight with creative direction provided by DONDA – has been called a bad idea that was executed with such confidence that it no longer seemed like a bad idea. In the video, Ye sits astride a motorcycle, joined by a topless Kim Kardashian as they steer through a landscape that bears striking resemblances to Colorado’s Monument Valley.
Check out the recently released visuals for “U Mad” by Vic Mensa featuring Kanye West.
U.S. Patent 20130181901 A1
Kanye West’s patented stage design involving “multiple screens for immersive audio/video experience” was first seen at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, during a screening of Ye’s “Cruel Summer” film. The blueprint was designed with New York architecture firm OMA and designer Shohei Shigematsu, and shortly after patented by West himself, before being utilized at several other live shows.