Monday, January 10, 2005

Demo and Outtake Covers

I downloaded the Green Updated Demos off EasyTree and thought it would be good to do a cover for them. I'd always had a simple concept I wanted to try for the demos and outtake discs and since a few of them had been recently posted I thought it was the opportune time.

I wanted to get away from using picture of the band all together on these ones. Cover designs are restricted by being able to find usable hi res images that suit the composition you're trying to create, you are, after all, a slave to your resources. So I thought I'd dictate the imagery on these ones. I didn't know how that would be accepted but the REM trading community that downloads my covers but I was interested to find out.

I'd always had the idea of doing free standing objects on a white plane or background. The initial idea I had was for the Green Outtakes. First of all I had to go with the obvious colour choice because it would just look dumb in anything else. In a way this helped a great deal with how I was to used colour on the whole series.

Green Demos Upgraded

For the Green cover I used some fantastic stock images of a waste bin, signifying versions that were binned and not used on the final. I designed the cover with the word 'outtakes' in mind. I was surprised when I re-read the notes and it was 'demos' which didn't quite suite the concept as well but I decide to continue with the design anyway.

I was really happy with the final result, the minimal use of imagery, typography and colour make the design very strong and simplistic and for those reason it's one of my favorites so far. I thought it was going to be a hard one to beat.

Lifes Rich Pageant Demos & More

For most of REM commercial albums I can think of an object I could probably use on a demo cover of this style, but for a while Lifes Rich Pageant puzzled me. I looked through some stock images of childrens toys and found some photos of old toy trains that jumped out at me. There is no real connection but they just seemed to go together.

I used a colour picker to select a shade of deep red of the toy on the cover to use as the colour for the text. As with the Green Demos cover this one turned out better than I expected although this one did receive some mixed reactions.

With this release there was a file of information with details on each track. To put all this information on the inlay would completely crowd the space and detract from the white open look I was trying to achieve. I thought what it needed was a gatefold booklet for the people who wanted the extra information. With a booklet I would have enough room for all the details without spoiling the look.

Outtakes of Time

This one I have mixed feelings about. I used green and red for the previous two cover so the obvious colour choice for this one was blue. I wanted to put a variety of time recording devices on here not only a clock, things like hourglasses or sundials.

For the cover I went through a large number of clock images until I found one I think worked. I think I subconsciously chose it because it reminds me of a clock we had in the room at my old high school.

For the inlay I didn't want another clock so I went with the only picture of an hourglass I could find. (Well I found a few but this was the only one that wasn't cropped and could be used on a white background.) Problem is I don't think it really works. It looks like its lifting off the page. The first two covers are very strong and I love them but this one I can't look at with the same affection. I'm doing another cover for another 'Out of Time' demo disc with a slightly different tracklist and I'll be using two different images for that that I hope will turn out better.

Avalon Cover

October 29th, 2003 - Avalon Hollywood Theatre - Hollywood, California

This is another cover from the backlog.

After doing the ATS tour covers I wanted to try a few more abstract designs. I didn't just want to put a stock standard picture of the band on the cover. I wanted to use more unusual but colourful and dynamic poses. So instead of going for full body shots I went for closer cropped images. I found some fantastic photos taken by Lindzi3, who has posted some amazing shots of

On the cover I went for a shot of Peter Buck that has the most vibrant colours and quality to it, it also has a slight natural motion blur. The inlay features a shot of Michael Stipe, also slightly out of focus due to motion bluring. I like this photo not only cause of the intensity of colour but it gets away from the standard concert shots by having Stipe with his hand across his face.

The typography took ages to layout. I kept moving it around and was never really happy with the composition. I think I finally decided on going for a 4 quarter grid layout and added the lines to add more geometrical interest.

Once again I used the justified scaled text to created block text elements that are much easier to work with. (I'm going to stop using this technique for a while as I don't want it to become a trademark of my designs and although I like it I think I'm overusing it.)

Air Canada Cover

September 30th, 2003 - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Canada

OK, this one was a request a while ago and now that the REM Around the Sun Tour has gone into a months hiatus in between the North American and European legs it's given me a chance to catch up on some of the other things on my 'to do' list.

I remember this concert. I was sitting at work listening to the REM HQ's live webcast of the show (not a bad way to spend a work day).

Initially I started looking for some shots of the venue just on the web and on the centre's official homepage to see what was around. I was also looking to see if there was any stand out architecture on the building that might make an interesting element for the cover. I almost went for a heavily cropped photo of the odd sculpture that sits in front of the building. I ending up finding the very cool shot that's on the back which was so perfect for the inlay. The venue photo set the colour and tones for the design, very cool autumn colours.

I scrounged around for some shots of the show, finally finding a couple of good concert shots from the night to use on the cover and inlay.

For the typography I once again used a technique that is prominent on quite a few of my covers, scaling each line of type so they're all justified to the same width creating a beautiful symmetrical block of text. Under this block of text on the inlay I had a square of blank space that I wanted to fill with some sort of iconic image. The venue country providing the inspiration by having one of the most recognizable international icons in the world.

At first I was worried about how I was going to do the track listing. It always works out better if the track number on each disc is about even. In this case it was sixteen tracks on CD1 and only eight on CD2 which is unusual for a bootleg release. The layout of the tracks was determined by the fact I could break the list into 3 columns of eight which ended up looking very nice after my initial concerns about how I was going to pull it off.