Thursday, March 31, 2005

One Woman, One Hundred Hats

I declared today to be my deadline, even though it could have been tomorrow but not a day later if we wanted the product in time for the N.O. Jazz and Heritage Festival and our record release event. Knowing my last-minute proclivities and my heavy Thursday workload, this was a wise decision. I made it to DHL with the CD master and the artwork files for overnight shipping to the manufacturer at 7:59 PM. They close at 8:00PM. If I had been a minute later and they'd have already locked the doors, I would have performed dramatic interpretations of 52 forms of suicide, including male autoerotic asphyxiation, until they relented and let me in. (Thank God that wasn't necessary, but I guarantee, it would have been quite a show.) Now that my hands have stopped shaking, my heart has stopped pounding, and I am no longer panting, I think I can write.

Today's hat is that of the graphic artist/designer, one hanging in a little girl's costume closet. The difference between the costume closet and the work-garb closet is that the former is for occasional play, the latter for serious work. Another difference is the degree of training one has for the role. She who wears the hat from the costume closet has no formal training in the profession and does what she does for the creative fun of it, with some of the fun coming from the challenge, as well. It's not that she can't play the part, though. But usually, it's low-stakes stuff. A major difference between the two hat-wearers may be not in vision, but in efficiency; in knowing and using the tricks of the trade. The self-taught, costume-hatted girl knows only the tricks she's figured out on her own, through intuition and ingenuity, and perhaps, (with a little luck), a few useful ones shared by those who get to wear the professional version of the hat. At some point, the hat may be moved from the costume closet to the work closet, but not without great toil, many lessons, and even more bonafide successes.

My costume wardrobe is full to the brim. Tonight I have left the graphic designer's hat on the floor in the hall. We'll have to see in which of the two closets it ends up being put away.

The graphic of the front cover of the CD (above) as well as the ones that follow below, are the layout versions of the artwork, complete with registrations and crop marks, etc. The graphic above is an "artified" (that's a word I made up) version a photograph I took of some actual street signs in Kirk Joseph's backyard . (There were really only two, but I do have a Photoshop skill or two sitting on the easy-to-reach shelves of my brain.) The photographic part of this endeavor was a piece of cake. Wrangling with InDesign -an effort soon aborted -and subsequently Illustrator, was another story. Things I know how to do easily in Photoshop were not so intuitive in these programs. But because of the nature of the printing process, Photoshop was not an option for layout.

The jewelcase for the CD is completely clear, with no black plastic disc spindle to obscure the back panel of the tray card. The following graphic is that back panel, and it's what you see when you open the case and remove the disc. No, the puppy isn't trained to leap through the sousaphone...yet. I was shooting randomly in the back yard and caught her in mid-leap as she lunged at another dog. I decided to add it, as it brought more interest to the image of the instrument. This image is also printed on the disc itself, but as a blue duotone with white type. Picture it round, in black and white -or more properly put, in grayscale- with a dark blue-gray cast and a hole in the middle. I guess it makes the statement, "this is what the disc would have looked like if we'd have sprung the extra few-hundred dollars for full-color, on-disc printing." But maybe that contrast will make it more interesting. Okay, lets all pretend that is was a creative maneuver and not an economic consideration.

Two things kept me hung up on this project: typography and preparing a screen-friendly, spot color graphic for on-disc printing. Blame it on my crummy vision, but I hate being subjected to 4, 5 and 6 point type on a CD and jacket and I refuse subject anyone else to it either. (And as I always preach, "know thy audience!" Not all, but the bulk of the market for this CD will be holding small print way out to focus on it or reaching for those damned reading glasses, the newly-acquired bane of the 40-something crowd.) Some information had to be sacrificed, but I'll put it on Kirk's website (as soon as I have the time to put it up). I did have room for the site's URL on the package. Anyway, without experience, it's hard to tell by looking at a computer screen what small type will really look like coming off a good printer. This fact drove me NUTS.

The whole screen-print-friendly, spot color thing is more than I can stand to write about. Suffice it to say that I think I kind of figured it out. In any event, I did the best I could, considering the fact that I have never, ever had to deal with anything of this sort before. (For those in the know, I could use three colors and I could only figure out how to execute this well using overprinting, which was discouraged. This didn't work well with the graphic I wanted to use. A three color blended screen could have produced something magnificent.)

Above is the back of the CD, with the spine print going vertically up both sides. Hopefully, you can see that Kirk and Venessa's puppy is standing beside the sousaphone bell, sort of like the image of Nipper the dog in the Barraud painting, "His Master's Voice," the one we associate with RCA Victor. It's "artified" too, (they all are), but I did not Photoshop the puppy in. She posed for me.

This (above) is the inside of the booklet. I photographed the band in the backyard also. Well, all but the two guys standing up in the back, because they weren't there that day. I shot them in the French Quarter after an in-store performance and Photoshopped them in. Notice the leaping puppy at the bottom? Her, too. She's the repeating motif. I hope that the "Backyard Groove" is captured in all the artwork, which is what I set out to do. I want it to send the right message and to be as vibrant, upbeat and attention-getting as the music is.

Well. it's time for me to go to the work-garb closet to put the mortarboard on my head. I've gotten virtually no sleep in the last couple of days and I have to write a test to give to tomorrow night's advertising class. I can't wait until it's playtime again.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Audible Vision Becomes a Reality. I really should explain what all this means, because, essentially, I'm getting the chance to test-drive a dream I've had for a long time.


Blogger Richard said...

Bravo, not only do we get a good picture of the creative and structural elements that go into the laying of the ground work of this project, but also a sense of the frenetic excitement that is generated. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next and what you need to do to get there.

P.S. I've been meaning to pass this on, and you probably already know of this site, but just in case you don't.

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