Sound Deals is an improvised comedy podcast where founders Max and Ivan - along with a roster of incredible guests - have to promote fictional products. Guests include Dara Ó Briain claiming that the Delacer will stop the dead from rising, Deborah Frances-White explaining how Deep Silk will trap you forever, and Mae Martin insisting that the Lumbertone 100A is definitely ‘a sex thing’. In all instances the products are tested by Ivan, who is contractually obliged to try every product, while being contractually barred from complaining about doing so.
Each description is a slow motion skid where even the most simple sounding of products is only one ‘yes, and’ away from becoming oddly and absurdly dangerous. In its own way it’s like a glimpse into a nightmarish other reality: a world of unfettered capitalism, unregulated working conditions, and alien technology capable of adding mice to ham. And that’s what makes illustrating the products so fun: trying to give concrete form to these shifting, improvised concepts has been a real joy.
Like the podcast itself I wanted the illustrations to seem cheerful, but with a slightly sinister edge - a series where each smile is just short of a grimace. I also wanted the illustrations to look like strange, retro ads that the viewer had stumbled upon - so I stuck to a small palette of saturated colours and relied heavily on the excellent, signage-style font family Ed’s Market - by Laura Worthington Type.
I also tried to fill the illustrations with sales information that would make total sense to someone who had already listened, but offer a compelling hook to those who hadn’t. How does Secüriton 2.1 protect you from punches and theft? Why does the Lucky Pipe come with so much lube? What are dog ladders? Only listening will provide the answers.
The project itself involved creation of brand graphics, a series of audiograms, animation experiments, and there are plans to illustrate concepts at a live show.