CD Design: Empty Spaces

This is a piece of work I began well over a year ago for a friend and colleague. Sometimes projects like this take a while to come to fruition I guess! Mike Campbell (aka SWAI) is a musician and poet of eclectic and original style, and I was keen to be involved with this project.  His only stipulation was that I was include the three images below, which were supplied as original photographs and required scanning.


The first two images have a link with the lyrics of the songs, and the third reflects his Ghanaian heritage. As the images needed to be a prominent part of the design, this led the approach, with the three images forming the overall backdrop to a simple typographic composition:

The images, admittedly were not great quality, and needed to be worked on to get them all up the same visual level. The image of the container port has excellent single point perspective and presented itself as the cover image immediately, but was a little overexposed with a flat, overcast sky that threatened to engulf the central pole. I ended up adding two additional layers, both scans of old, scuffed film frames, each with slightly different textures and depths, set to multiply with a little transparency:

Although this is a simple design, it is always worth breaking down the composition to examine the underlying structure:

The back cover features the image of a street in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and was given the same treatments as before to bring the perspective into a similar position and adding the layers from the container image. These were used at slightly different settings in order to give both images a very similar feel. The composition for this side is slightly more complex because of the two perspective angles and the amount of text to include:

I decided to repeat the container image – with Empty Spaces as the title, this was not only appropriate, but also solved the spine issue – where the section beneath the CD spills into the clear area of the spine, effectively becoming part of the cover. This can be seen in effect in the front CD image at beginning of this post and open here:

The colour was stripped from the original image and the texture/discolouring layers and a slight blue tint were added as a duotone. This helped to tie this image to the third on the inside of the booklet, but needed some very exacting lining up! Scroll back up to the first image and check it out. When you come back, just click on the image below and read the text – a poem of conviction that gives me some small satisfaction that people haven’t given up altogether on the expression of creative responses to political dissatisfaction.

The on body image needed to sit over the duotone background exactly too. I like this effect – I have done similar things before, but I know what I am like – there is a simple satisfaction from putting a disc back into its case and aligning the disc so it completes the visual. ‘Click.’  Nice when you open it back up too!

The centre spread of the booklet featured a view over the river Great Ouse in King’s Lynn – my adopted home town and local waterway (I live within a couple of hundred metres from this under rated and neglected stretch of tidal water.) The original wasn’t great quality but was atmospheric and needed some fettling to bring it into line with the other two images:

The typography throughout was set in Helvetica Neue – Bold and Light with an italic. Although overused, Helvetica still remains a firm standard for clean, considered type – this design did not demand exotic styles and special effects and used an old favourite (or foe!) to good effect.

The album has finally been released and can be purchased here. Go there and try something different.

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