Over the last few years, music has become more visual than ever. With access to music at an all-time high and attention spans at an all-time low, the importance of a cohesive, eye-catching visual has never been greater.
Along with the increasing speed of releases and constantly growing list of new digital formats, an entirely new industry of graphic designers, video editors, and VFX & 3D artists has sprung up to meet the demand.
Enterprising young creatives like Alex Siegel, better known as HuhAlex have risen to the occasion, finding themselves in an underserved niche starved for high-quality, quick-turnaround visuals for social media and DSPs in a variety of formats that feel fresh and of the moment.
At just 19-years-old, HuhAlex has become a go-to graphic designer creating coverart, visualizers, lyric videos and stage visuals for many of the biggest names of the new wave, frequently working with Lil Tecca as well as Internet Money, Yeat, Autumn!, SSGKobe, Dro Kenji, BabySantana and a bunch more.
Not only that, Siegel has managed to parlay his underground success into top-tier mainstream looks designing covers for the likes of Fivio Foreign and Bobby Shmurda, visualizers for TheWeeknd and Lil Durk, and lyric videos for Juice WRLD and Justin Bieber. In June, he earned bragging rights of the decade when he designed all the motion graphics and Youtube visualizers for Drake’s, Honestly, Nevermind.
We sat down with HuhAlex to learn what it means to be a graphic designer in the 2022 music landscape, and what it takes to become one of the most sought-after visual creators of the day (in between class no less).
Growing up in the Bay Area, Siegel had always been a consumer of music and a fan of the newest cool hip-hop artist. In high school, he tried his hand at producing beats and even published a few songs, but it wasn’t until the early days of pandemic shutdowns that he realized there might be an opportunity to design visuals for the same artists he was looking to get beat placements with.
While still in high school on the west coast, he reached out to a few of the connections he had made online and before long ended up designing his very first cover for an artist named luv4clip, who just so happened to be an early collaborator of some big names in the Soundcloud underground including Lil Tecca and SoFaygo. The very next day after the cover was posted, SSGKobe was in Alex’s DMs interested in his own cover design – confirming that he was on the right path and setting off a chain reaction of new collaboration possibilities.
Alex remembers the first project that really put him on the map.
“Definitely was the ‘Never Left’ cover for Tecca. The way it came together was super random. I was literally sitting in my room attending online English class and I got a call from Tecca’s manager, Giuseppe. He said: ‘We need a cover for this song. Here’s some scenes Tecca likes. We need to turn this in within the hour.’ So I made a bunch of versions right there while I was technically sitting in class, sent it over, and by the end of the day they had chosen one. When that came out is when everyone really became aware of what I was up to, and things kinda started to snowball.”
It wasn’t just that he was working with a bona fide Soundcloud superstar that had people taking notice, one hour of designing during online English class had become the official cover art for “Never Left” – what would become the Billboard-charting lead single (peak No. 56) and biggest song off Lil Tecca’s We Love Tecca 2, with over 140 Million streams on Spotify alone.
With the help of friends and collaborators like White Collar Will, SaidAli Mesbahi, Saaj, Alastair Made It and Mihailoandic, before long Alex would find himself designing covers for many of the biggest stars of the new wave including BabySantana, Destroy Lonely, Rich Amiri, Yung Fazo, Matt Ox and more.
Alex designed the artwork for important and epic underground link-ups like BabySantana’s “Antisocial” (both 1 and 2) with Slump6s, SSGKobe, Yung Fazo and Xhulooo as well as Tana’s “Off the Leash” with yvngxchris and Luisss. Both of these covers showcased a distinct 3D style that felt fresh but still perfectly in line with the Soundcloud 2.0 aesthetic, and the success of these collab-tracks likely played a large role in establishing his reputation within the scene.
In addition to the surreal underground aesthetic, Alex would prove to be just as capable when it came to a more photography-based style where photos and assets are prepared by a photographer, and a graphic designer like himself is commissioned to create the final arrangement.
He would design covers in this way for Bobby Shmurda’s “They Don’t Know,” as well as when he got the call on short notice for Fivio Foreign’s hugely important, Kanye West EP’ed debut album B.I.B.L.E released in April – with the double bonus of working with photos taken by legendary hip hop photographer Jonathan Mannion. Alex’s designs ended up being chosen for the final album artwork, not to mention the billboard design which resulted in this insanely cool photo op in front of his work on the NASDAQ billboard in Times Square, one of the most famous in the world.
Along with cover art, early on Alex noticed just how important additional visual assets like visualizers, lyric videos and other motion graphics had become. What used to be a nice-to-have is now an essential piece of many artists’ rollout plans, not to mention an important component of how fans experience their brand on social media.
Seeing the opportunity, he began to teach himself new skills like 3D VFX, motion animation and even stage visual production. Once again, he expanded his repertoire to meet the unmet demand for quick and quality motion graphics, which helped cement him as a go-to graphic designer not only amongst popular independent artists in the bustling Soundcloud underground, but with record labels like 10K Projects, Republic and Simple Stupid – wisely maintaining a healthy balance of industry and indie projects.
In addition to the “Never Left” single cover, Alex would also end up designing many of the accompanying visual assets for We Love Tecca 2 including visualizers, gifs and other motion graphics – virtually sealing the deal on his affiliation with Tecca’s label, Galactic as the project quickly broke the Billboard Top 10.
As it tends to happen in the tight-knit underground, his reputation and network grew exponentially and he soon was able to scoop up projects with increasing regularity. Expanding his repertoire of skills, Alex quickly became somewhat of an expert in the many visual formats that artists and labels require.
While the average listener may not even realize it, they probably spend more time looking at visualizers and motion graphics than the traditional coverart. These usually look like an animated version of the artwork or looped clips from the song’s music video – most often seen while songs play on Spotify or Apple Music, the background of “Audio-Only” Youtube clips, or posted on social media to promote an upcoming release.
In the last year, Alex has not only designed visualizers and motion graphics for many of the leaders of the new wave including Yeat, Autumn!, Dro Kenji and of course Tecca, he’s brought cover art to life for some of the biggest artists in music – from Lil Durk’s Billboard No.1 7220, to NBA Youngboy’s “Flossin” to Nicki Minaj and Fivio’s “We Go Up.” He even designed the visualizer for The Weeknd’s Out of Time Remix Bundle with Kaytranada.
He’s also designed a number of lyric videos – which are similar to a visualizer but with the added complication of displaying all the lyrics in timing with the song – for equally huge projects including Justin Bieber and Don Toliver’s “Honest,” several songs off Juice WRLD’s Fighting Demons project, and Yeat’s “No Handoutz.”
Stage visuals are another important component of an artist’s aesthetic. As such, Alex has adapted his style to also create eye-catching backdrops for performances by a number of artists – some of the most notable being Iann Dior’s Jimmy Kimmel appearance with Travis Barker, or Lil Tecca and Baby Santana’s recent performances at Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash.
As a result of his hugely in-demand skills, he’s also had the opportunity to work with a few big brands outside of his normal projects, like the motion graphic for OVO Sound’s official Netflix playlist for Top Boy. He also got the chance to work on a very cool project for Footlocker honoring Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park basketball court which he told us more about.
“We got brought on to the Foot Locker project actually by my friend’s sister, to essentially design the 3D mockup for an in-store activation in Harlem honoring the Rucker Park basketball court. We ended up essentially designing the whole layout, mocked it up in 3D, and designed all the assets. A few months later our design had turned into an actual in-person activation at the Harlem Foot Locker, which was really crazy to see.”
While he was already on a meteoric trajectory working with some of the biggest names in the game, HuhAlex entered the stratosphere in June when he created the visualizers for Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind – the biggest name of all.
Alex had another brush with The Boy earlier this year when he reposted a motion graphic he had made for Roy Woods, but now at just 19-years-old had a full-on moment with Drizzy Drake when he animated the extremely controversial cover artwork for his equally polarizing surprise project, which would accompany every song on the Billboard No. 1 Album across Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music and everywhere else.
Since moving to New York, Alex has been able to translate his hard work and long hours spent behind the computer screen into IRL relationships with many of the artists he’s been working with remotely, attending shows and perhaps most notably capturing the epic moment below from the first time he met Lil Tecca during a surprise link up at the BoysAreRolling studio in Manhattan.
At this point, HuhAlex is an undeniable mainstay in the new wave and easily one of the most sought-after graphic and motion graphic designers in the game for creating the essential visuals that listeners look at every day. Just in the last month, he’s created single covers for three of its most important names: Lil Tecca‘s “Faster,” Rot Ken‘s “Rollin” and Rich Amiri‘s “Can’t Die” and not to mention designing the cover of Internet Money’s new project, WE ALL WE GOT.
At just 19 years old, it still feels like he is only just scratching the surface of his potential. As he continues to develop his personal style and take an increasingly front seat role in the creative direction process, there is no doubt that HuhAlex is on his way to becoming one of the most important graphic designers in the game.