Album Artwork: Behind The Scene(s)
For me, the cover art of an album is extraordinary important. Perhaps it’s because I come from the vinyl generation - an age that remembers and treasures the glory days of 12 inch, gatefold sleeve designs. (I believe it’s just as important in the smaller CD format.) It’s part and parcel of the listening and appreciation experience. A good cover will always match the mood of the album perfectly, giving the listener further insight into the ideas and themes behind the music.
So, as I began to record this collection of pieces for the new album, “Hope”, I was already thinking about the kinds of approaches we might take to the cover art. Unusually for me, I found I had a very clear, fully-formed concept from the outset. The majority of the sleeve design is to be dominated by a single photograph, not - you’ll be relieved to hear - of me! Given the important role this picture must play, it was vital to get just the right shot. I had a clear idea of what I wanted and - even better - a good idea about where we might get such a shot. Did such a location exist? Would the fickle British summertime weather hold out and deliver just the right lighting conditions. Was it possible to capture something that came close to the vision?
Fortunately, although I’m a keen amateur photographer, this wasn’t going to depend on my skills since my son, James, is an accomplished professional photographer. (https://www.jlcmediaproductions.com) Although James is perhaps best known for his automotive and commercial work, I’ve always been struck by the way he handles light in his landscapes - something that was going to be critical in making my design ideas a reality.
So, enjoying that rarest of events - a sunny English Bank Holiday, we headed up to Dalby Forest in the North York Moors National Park. James had with him a whole backpack of cameras and lenses while I had (don’t laugh) an old pizza box into which I had cut the shape of a CD cover to act as a viewfinder.
Of course, being a gloriously sunny day we had to do battle with hordes of other people all intent on enjoying the sunshine. (My idea didn’t call for extras!) Early attempts at getting just the right shot were frustrated by happy families hurtling through the forest canopy on zip wires!
However, walking further away from the crowds, we stumbled on what seem to be the perfect location. James waded through some nettles to climb a bank, took a few shots and showed me the results in his viewfinder. At that point I felt we had some really strong contenders but it was only later in the day when James emailed me the finished image that I knew just how good it really was. I can honestly say it has surpassed my expectations - and my imagination had already set the bar pretty high!
I can’t wait to show you the final designs, but, for now, here’s a short video that gives an insight into our day…