Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Go-Go's - Vacation

Cover art by Mike Hagerty

Read more about the background of the creation of this cover here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The PaperbackCinema CD Package Designs

The Paperback Cinema is a Alt-Folk collective from the Philadelphia area. One of it's memeber's is Tim McNally who I have done design work for in the past. With most of the music projects I work on, after meeting with the client and getting a good feel about what their music is all about, I am usually given creative freedom to design whatever I think will work best. Musicians can sometimes be wary of losing any kind of creative control when it comes to their music, so I find it is really important to have an honest conversation so that both parties can agree what the expectations are for the final project.

I am lucky that most of the music projects I have worked on, the musicans or record labels contact me and want to use me for my particular design and illustration styles. Because of this, there usually is very little in revisions.

This was of of those projects that basically went off without a hitch. I wanted to explore a more "restrained" type of illustration that felt like an underground graphic novel. One of the major changes for me in this piece was using various water color washes and using marker. I went through multiple versions trying to really get a solid overall consistant look and feel. There are some many variations, some with very little use of color and others that have big bold swatches of color. There was a little about each version that I liked so in the end I had to choose the version that seemed to incorporate the most of the best elements from all the versions.

When it was done, I was pleased with the end result and I really enjoyed the creative process that I went though to create this piece. One of the elements I love the most is the typography. I wanted a big bold slab font that had a 1950's pulp novel feel. I could'nt really find a typeface that I liked or that unique enough to visually marry with the illustration. I decided to create a typeface specifically for this project. I sketched out the font by hand and did multiple tracings until I got the way I wanted. I then scanned in the inked alphabet and cleaned it up a bit in Photoshop. From there I printed out the entire alphabet to a black and white laser printer and made a photocopy. Using the photocopy and turpentine, I transfered the letters onto a slab of Speedball lino block. I then carved out each letter(some letters had to carved multiple times to get them right). I then inked the blocks and printed out pages and pages of the letters. After printing the letters, I scanned in the best pages of the letters and picked out the best letters from the various prints. I vreated one Photoshop file that contained all the best letters and I then created a hi-res PS brush for each letter. Using the PS brushes I then created the type for the cd package.

It might seem like a long process just for the typography and I know it would have been quicker just to scan in the original sketches and used the computer to create them and distress them. By I never really care to take the "quick and easy" way. First of all I love what I do so why would I want to shorten the time I get to do it? Secondly, if you really want to get a "hand drawn" feeling and get small imperfections to the look and feel then there is no better way than to do it by hand.

A design will always have a much stronger feel to it if some part of it was created by hand because the artist has a connection to the work through a tacile response as the ink or paint is applied.

Finished package design (click to enlarge):

CD single cover that uses more of fontface:

Finished package design (click to enlarge):

Here are some photos of the font creation process:

Original sketch:

Transfering the letters onto the block:

Cutting out the letters:

Close view of progress:

One of the many prints that were scanned in:

Sorry for the really long post. Hope you enjoyed it though.

>K. Von B.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hope for music design in 2008

With all the talk about CD and DVD sales plummeting and digital downloads taking the place of something you can hold in your hands and examine, I decided I better hop on the A-train quickly or be relegated to the CD/DVD graphic design scrap heap.

Let me first explain that I am actually old enough to have designed my first album cover in 1974. From there, the industry took a pretty abrupt leap to the smaller format of compact discs while still retaining the need for a graphic designer to design the physical packaging.

With digital downloading on the rise, my first thoughts were, “Great, another product line of graphic design I will have to drop.” Not so fast. Seems, that maybe this whole switcheroo won’t be as bad as I first thought.

Antony Bruno has written an article for Billboard magazine titled, “Digital album packaging should improve in 2008.” It’s well worth the time to read for anyone even remotely interested in the future of graphic design and music. Read Bruno's article here.

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