Cut, Paste, Listen: How Artist Cody Hudson Uses Music To Shape the Patterns in His Work

When we asked artist Cody Hudson to design a new holiday gift-wrapping paper, we figured the process would involve a lot of abstract shapes–and of course, a pretty good playlist or two. We recently visited Hudson in his Chicago studio to learn about the creative interplay between patterns, shapes, colors, and sounds that comes alive in his work.

You recently designed this gift-wrapping pattern for our new holiday promo campaign. Can you tell us how you made it? What types of materials did you use?
The designs all started as cut paper shapes. I then scanned those into my computer so I could work through numerous layouts to get it to where I saw it going. This is how a lot of my work starts. Instead of always sketching a specific idea, I like to just start cutting paper up and see what shapes start to appear. This can push the process in a different direction than it might go if I am following a tight sketch.

It’s almost like the shapes are having a dialogue, as though they’re “talking” to one another.
I’ve always seen them all connected in some way. When you look at just one shape, it will have a very different feel than if you see four shapes in a specific pattern. So when they get mixed together, the whole form starts to change. That’s kind of how I see them communicating. It’s like a thought building onto other thoughts until eventually it becomes something bigger.

What do you listen to while you work? Does it impact your creative output at all?
I start off pretty mellow in the morning. Ambient new age stuff usually starts the day. Then I usually bounce back and forth between more traditional rock and garage-style stuff to some reggae or dub. I’ve been mixing in a lot more electronic music lately. It’s been good listening back to stuff I listened to in the early 90s going to rave and warehouse parties. I mix in a decent amount of classic Chicago house music as well.

The music can definitely affect what I’m working on, less on the visual side and more when it comes to the lyrics. A lot of times I find the music I’m listening to will influence the titles of my work.

What were you listening to while you created this new holiday pattern? 
According to my recent playlists, I was listening to things like The Sea and Cake, Wooden Shjips, Cool Maritime, Mazzy Star, Laraaji, The Everly Brothers, Kevin Krauter, Gene Clark, Circuit Des Yeux, Palace Music, Goose Creek Symphony, Allan Wachs, Bjorn Torske, Brian Eno, and Hoops to name a few.

It’s nice to have everything all connected via Sonos and controlled by one thing. It also definitely makes it easy to change songs quickly when I’m Dj’ing for my two young kids at home, especially while they’re yelling out requests.

Music can definitely affect what I’m working on. A lot of times I find the music I’m listening to will influence the titles of my work.

With the holidays coming up we have to ask: Any seasonal music favorites? 
To be honest, I’m not a big holiday person. I do like to hear the Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton Christmas record once a year though.