Thursday, March 10, 2011

InDesign: Period Vinyl Covers

Tori's Period covers
Gloss prints, 12x12"
Tori Amos 30's cover, front
Digital media 12x12"
Tori Amos 30's cover, back
Digital media 12x12"

InDesign & Photoshop
Period Vinyl Covers
Luciano Sormani, 2011

Tori in the 30’s
The 30’s style I used for the vinyl cover can be best defined as: high contrast, sepia toned and heavily decorated. The main image looks like a still from a silent movie, dramatically contrasted. Tori’s makeup features dramatic eyes, dark colored lips and pale skin. I added a grainy texture and some noise to make it look more like a movie still. To that I added some decorative elements reminiscent of 30’s art nouveau as well as plenty of borders to tie the typographic elements together, as well as a vignette to further enforce the silent movie feel. For the fonts I used some typical 30’ looking fonts to emphasize the period style. To me, the 30’s style is devoid of bright colors, but instead features mostly browns, creams and pale pastels in combination with white. For the logo I used the original logo for the Okeh label, which in the 30’s was a subsidiary of Columbia records (to keep the continuity with the 50’s and 70’s covers.). I also invented the vibra-tone sound system, which is reminiscent of some of the aural technologies featured at the time. My inspiration for the look of this cover comes mostly from 30’s (film) posters and book covers. It was hard to find actual 30’s record covers as it wasn’t common to have fully printed covers in those days, the records usually came packaged in a simple sleeve. More inspiration came from an actual Okeh label and sleeve.

Tori Amos 50's cover, front
Digital media 12x12"
Tori Amos 50's cover, back
Digital media 12x12"
Tori in the 50’s
My 50’s cover was a lot easier because there are plenty of examples to be found. The hardest part about it was having it look distinctly 50’s and not early 60’s which have a very similar look. Originally I was planning to use a Playbill font, but after looking at a lot of examples from the time, I decided to go with a condensed sans serif instead, in combination with a playful type for the title and a streamlined one for the subtitle. The cover incorporates typical design elements from that time; multiple colors used in the typography, ‘space age’ elements like stars and decorative line-art. Originally I wanted to include some ‘lounge’ imagery like martini glasses, but they looked too corny and detracted from the more sophisticated look I was going for. The colors are bright, but not very vibrant, faded reds, blues, purple and green. The photo I found had a distinct 50’s feel to me, but I did change her makeup a little bit to fit more with the times. I added some striking red lipstick and a touch of blue eye shadow, as well as a soft blush and darker eyebrows. Up until the 70’s, when the art on the cover became really important (and art directors probably frowned on having their precious cover art covered by a company logo,) record labels always had at least their logo on the front of the cover, but usually they would also have their name, logo and some kind of ‘technical’ information on the front, like the ‘stereo’ logo. I incorporated this idea into both the 30’s and 50’s covers. Another important style element for the 50’s was the use of the track listing and performers on the front. This seems very strange compared to the styles of the 70’s (a cover usually dominated by a single striking image,) and 80’s (crazy typography that sometimes did away with a track listing altogether). In the 50’s and early 60’s they definitely weren’t afraid to fill the cover with text, in some cases repeating the same information several times in different fonts and sizes. Both the front and the back feature the 50’s era Columbia logo.
Tori Amos 70's cover, front
Digital media 12x12"
Tori Amos 70's cover, back
Digital media 12x12"

Tori in the 70’s
The 70’s cover was the first one I did, as it felt the closest to me. I have seen and own many 70’s albums. It was a time when printing techniques were becoming more sophisticated and art directors had a firm grip on the style and look of the covers. Many iconic covers were created in this time, but it’s hard to emulate those as they are so unique. Instead I decided to go for a style that was ubiquitous during that time, especially for female singers. The main image of Tori gazing dreamily by a window had the perfect feel for a 70’s cover. I softened the colors and added a blur around her to create a soft-focus look. For the design I decided to keep it as simple as possible, adding a frame and some scripted text. The layout for the back cover was inspired by covers for The Eagles that had a modernized ‘western’ feel. I used an image of a keyhole and made it look older and colored it to match the browns and oranges of the front. The rest of the typography is kept simple and unobtrusive. The scripted text for the track list is borderline unreadable, but that also fits with the period feel. Included here is the 70’s version of the Columbia logo in a single matching color.

The keyhole
I used the keyhole image as a motif to give continuity to all three designs. The original cover featured the keyhole image, so I decided to incorporate it in different was on all three covers. The 30’s has it as a small decorative element that ads to the ‘mystery novel’ feel. The 50’s has a simple black and white image that substitutes for an exclamation mark. The 70’s has a photo of an actual keyhole, inviting the viewer to take a closer look.

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