Production work on a new CD for Lost Garden is now off my desk, and in the hands of the pressing plant. Back in the olden days, a 4 colour printed proof would eventually turn up from which I would be able to check for glitches and colour issues. These days it’s a case of hoping for the best and learning by experience (“colour profiles? What are those…?”).
The Lost Garden sleeve has been a bit of a sweat due to the large numbers of layers used, and the way this kept pushing up the file size (though I continue to be impressed by the way the MacBook Pro copes with files my G4 would struggle on). But it’s been great to get properly involved and also have musicians who are interested (the band turned up at my office for final adjustments, and were changing track titles up to the very last moment).
The duo work in the area of improvised electronic music, with lots of samples and effects, and it seemed to me that the sleeve ought to reflect that approach. So throughout, if accidents happened during the process, these were embraced and allowed to dictate the final look to some degree. Random changes to the layer orders were also tried just to see what unexpected effect this would produce.
The basis for the artwork were two monochrome Victorian photographs of gardens from my archive, found on one of many trawls through antique centres. One was a much overgrown garden, with a young girl clipping roses. The other a very stern looking father and family posing in a modest inner-city terrace house plot, along with domestic pets and cold frames. I liked the contrast between the two obviously different classes in the images. Alongside these a colour photograph, albeit with much of the colour desaturated, of some ox-eye daisies taken in my own garden a couple of summers ago was also brought in to the mix.
Part of the ethos of the label issuing this CD was to produce something more than your usual jewel case – a format which has very little charm – to reward people who bought this over any download. When I produced the first visuals, I dropped on a scan of a CD tray to show where this would go on the finished package. It produced some nice effects when I did so, and these were moved across to the final art. Two very blurred live photographs were dropped in, while a promo photo shoot in a very dark rehearsal room gave us something more immediate. This shot was dropped in and then shuffled around in the layer order until it began to feel part of the overall piece.
I personally wouldn’t have had the CD title on the front but the group were keen, otherwise text was kept to a minimum, with some areas of the background design left pale to accommodate this. The logo was developed separately to give the group something to use on their other print material, and came from a vintage font I found. Giving this a solid colour and inner shadow added a slight die-cut effect, which had this been for a major label, it might have been possible to actually try.
So intense did the work get for a time that it was only after initial approval I realised I’d actually used the lowres 72dpi files to develop the final art. It proved impossible to upscale this without losing much of the quality of the original scans, so instead I went back to those hi-res scans and rebuilt it. Needless to say even following the layers and effects notes carefully, it proved impossible to match exactly, so it was a case of going with what emerged once again.
If they ever want a vinyl edition it is back to the drawing board!
The debut CD from Lost Garden will be on the English Electric label in March 2015.