Black Star

I was going to write this blog post last week about record cover design, it is something that as a studio we have been involved with. Mr.Seventy-three does a sideline in publishing vinyl too, we are a little obsessed.

Obviously, the World has changed now, the beautiful David Bowie is no longer with us. But as this is design related I have decided to carry on with the post.

I am a huge fan of vinyl, and with the quality of vinyl the main focus these days (nice heavy 180g – not the recycled wobbly rubbish of the 1980s) it is not a cheap way to buy your music. So, generally a lot of attention is paid to the packaging and graphic design.

I had pre-ordered David Bowie’s Black Star sometime last year. At £23 it is not the cheapest thing, but it is hardly a risk as it is a Bowie piece. The packaging really lets you know you have a quality product in your hands. It is great piece of graphic design.

When I get my new vinyl, I save splitting open the protective shrink wrap until I can truly savour it. A quick, gentle slice down the side and I am in. It’s all very exciting. And yes, I do always sniff the record, it’s part of the ritual.

The plain soft sheen black sleeve with the spot UV and die cut is so simple it is stunning. Through the star cut out on the front you get a glimpse of the product inside. It’s all very tantalising.

Inside there is minimal colour and the UV continues. The accompanying booklet has a matt laminate cover and lots of spot UV throughout.

The typography is lovely too, lyrics are laid out like constellations.

What a lovely portfolio piece for the designer. It was always going to be great, I mean, a Bowie cover! But now it is his last cover. Everything he did was so considered, part of the art, he obviously loved this cover. I’m very jealous.

I’m so glad I pre-ordered it.

Update

Design is more than using a computer

I am always ranting on about how graphic design is more than using photoshop (and any other programmes you can think of). Finally I have found a video that shows you what I mean. Created by lynda.com it shows what tools we had to use before computers came along to create print ready artwork.

I’m not going to wax lyrical about how things were better before computers, because I don’t believe things were. There were better smells: PMT camera film, fluids, inks, spray mount and countless other solvents and sprays (I wasn’t a glue sniffer, honestly).

Things took longer, so in my opinion you were more considered and designers were better problem solvers. When it takes a day to get your type back from the setters before you can put it in your artwork, you tend to make sure things are just so. No rubbing out on the computer and changing it every 5 minutes.

So, here’s to nostalgia, let’s take a look back in time (to as late as the early 1990s, can you believe that!) and if you never worked in a studio at this time, then I do think you missed out but maybe I have those rose tinted glasses on again:

Mmmm paper!

I love paper. No scrap that, I am OBSESSED with paper! It is a beautiful ancient art form, which is often overlooked and then the biggest insult (shhhhhh) it is put in the bin (gasp)!

It often gets ruined by having terrible design printed on it. Poor paper, it doesn’t often get treated well. And we won’t start on the trees!

GF Smith are a paper mill who I really admire. They do the lovely Colorplan range, which comes in lots of colours, textures and weights. Amazing for letterpress jobs!

They have made a video. Watch it, it shows all the care that goes into delivering their products.

Design Podcasts

I have recently started listening to podcasts on graphic design. Most are from the US, but it is fascinating to see that even with an ocean between us, designers in our studio and ‘over there’ experience the same issues.

Our favourite is: The Deepend

A new, soon to be addiction is: Debbie Millman’s Podcast (love the Chip Kid podcast!) can’t wait to wade our way through this catalogue of designers!