Facing the Music

Artist Cadence Hodes makes one-of-a-kind vinyl record art.

By Michelle Mastro

Portrait photography by Colin Miller/Strauss-Peyton


Combining mediums in art takes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Artist Cadence Hodes specializes in many art forms, like watercolor paintings and hand-painted stationery, but she might be best known for her incomparable vinyl records she paints freehand and individualizes for her clients.

When creating these art pieces, she takes vinyls and thinks through the person’s connection to the music before adding any designs. In other words, each piece is completely personalized. “The finished product celebrates the meaningful relationship we have with music,” Cadence notes.

A couple, for example, might approach Hodes with an idea of a record containing the song that played during their first dance. “I use the couple’s first dance song as the vinyl and their personal style, or even themes from their wedding decor, as inspiration for colors,” she explains. When finished, the final artwork invites the couple to remember their special day. “I love these commissions because I get to collaborate with the client and curate something specifically meaningful for them.”

But for Hodes, painting the vinyls is significant to her in regards to the process as well. “While the ultimate goal is to create something beautiful, the process itself has always been about honoring my own need for a creative outlet,” she says. “The repetitive nature and radial symmetry is meditative and therapeutic—everything else fades to the background and the only thing I’m focused on is moving my paintbrush.”

Years ago when Hodes first started experimenting with records, she realized the therapeutic quality of the work. “It was my college summer break and I was looking for something to occupy my time while avoiding the New Orleans heat,” she says. “I would post up at my kitchen table and get lost in time experimenting with different color combinations and patterns.”

The experience sent her back to her high school years where she spent time creating doodles in her notebooks, “I found myself entering a sort of meditative zone as I got into the groove, eager to start a new pattern as soon as I’d finished the previous one.”

Enjoying the nostalgic feeling the work gave her, Hodes was determined to make her current logo reflective of the old doodles she used to draw, a flower she repeated over and over again. It was “one my mom dubbed ‘the Cadence flower,’” she reveals. “I never imagined those mindless doodles would have any impact on my career as an artist; however, in retrospect my drawings were variations of mandalas, and those ‘Cadence flower’ petals are present in most of my vinyl designs.”

While beautiful, they might not be perfect, and for Hodes that’s kind of the point. “I paint completely freehand, so of course there can be inconsistencies,” she says. “Any ‘mistakes’ are simply proof that a human made this unique and one-of-a-kind piece, and not a machine.”  The lesson, she says, is that “we are our own harshest critics, and something doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’ to be beautiful.”