A New Album, Part Three: The Artwork

This is part three of a three-part series about the new self-titled album. Read “Part One: The Poem” here and “Part Two: The Music” here.

Drying Letterpress Compact Disc Sleeves
The album sleeves on the drying rack in the studio of Red Plate Press.

Creating the Album Experience

For this album, I am doing my first physical release, a decision informed by the concept behind the music. Poetry is an integral part of the album and since poetic works are traditionally presented in print, a physical release was the perfect format in which to do so. Another factor was the sheer enjoyment of having something tangible connected to the music. I chose compact discs because they are easily accessible, and with the format decided, started looking at the album experience. Here, my main objective was to bring all its ideas together in a simple but meaningful way.

The use of letterpress packaging appealed to me early on. One of its advantages is that the sleeves themselves become works of art: the artist conceptualises the visuals and produces the packaging by hand on the letterpress machine. Moreover, the letterpress process is such that every print is unique: as the paper passes through the press, the ink is never applied in the same way, ensuring that no two sleeves are identical. I spoke to letterpress artist David Armes of Red Plate Press about the album at the very beginning of the project; design began whilst the music was still a work in progress.

Forgotten Fields Compact Disc Sleeve Detail
A detail from the inside of the compact disc sleeve.
Handmade Letterpress Sleeves
Designed, printed and assembled by Red Plate Press.

An Abstract Poem

David responded to my brief with breathtaking minimalism and clarity. He distilled the themes of the album into a succinct visual summary, capturing the very essence of the project in an abstract poem of his own. The process was particularly interesting because there was no digital component; everything was done manually from start to finish. During the conceptualisation phase, each new variation of the design involved setting up the press anew with different or adjusted inks and elements to make a version for us to review. David would expertly assemble the new mockup by hand, every time.

For the final artwork, he used hand-set metal type and geometric shapes to create a truly evocative work. Illustrating a scene from the poem, the cover shows a flight of swallows, conceived as a group of triangles suspended above a field of green. On the back, a swallow rushes through the sky, separated from the others by the spine. This swallow appears in the poem. Inside, the bird motif is repeated, offset by the text of the poem. David used different ink densities—opaque for the swallows, textured for the field—to add depth to the two-dimensional design.

The Release

This release is in many respects a defining one. I have found the focus of my creative work in the poetic and musical exploration of pastoral themes and consider this album (and the EP that preceded it) the touchstone of future works. I am pleased to share this release with the world and hope it will be well received. To everyone who supports my work: thank you.

Forgotten Fields will be released tomorrow, 17 November 2017.

3 thoughts on “A New Album, Part Three: The Artwork

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