04 August 2010

Packaging & Cover Art OR: the face of a label

Hey all, new computer to work on, slowly hunting down previewed/pre-distributed copies of the music I wanted to release, tryinta find new projects to start/finish/release, yadda yadda, here's a new blog fer ya....


OK, last year (when we started this label) I had a few points I wanted to use to design our "identity", or "brand", if you will:

- post-consumer materials: with the obvious exception of the CD-R, I wanted to spend absolutely NO money on basic packaging (pre-artwork), so that the actual cost to consumers would be minimal.

- simple construction: equally important to keeping costs down is keeping down the time required to manufacture. Also, as I figured I'd be doing most of the manufacturing myself, I didn't want to spend forever doing every individual freaking case. Amber Marsh conceived a purposeful cut-fold-glue system that has worked brilliantly thus far. This leaves us with a case that looks like this: (insert pic here, 1 unfolded, 1 glued but blank)

- open canvas: so, the concept I had led us to this next (very important, I feel) point. I envisioned the blank cardboard case as the "brand identifier" of Rule No. 6, in the sense that any artist or band that wanted to do a release would only have to agree to a few simple parameters: 1) low production run numbers, 2) low cost to the public, and a 3rd more ambiguous idea: cover art should be in a form adaptable to a stencil or stamp. I wanted to be able to produce extra runs of any previous release, at any time, by keeping an archive of said stencils/stamps. By keeping to these visual aesthetics, Rule No. 6 releases would always be immediately identifiable by the packaging, and the packaging for every release would be an advertisement for the label. All the CD artist had to do was decide on a front & back design, and we're off to the races.

BUT: as so often, clear ideas get muddled through discussion & growth. The stencil/stamp is still my ideal, but there are so many other awesome ideas that we've stumbled upon, I've decided to let each release decide its own method (to a point). This means that Amber & I will have to work a little harder, but shit, that was on the itinerary anyway.

SO: now we're going to offer multiple cardboard-palette options (we currently have two designs to choose from), and each artist will engage in the decision-making process to design their own record. Here are some of the concepts we're currently contemplating:

 -stencil/stamp of the band name, album name, or a (relatively) simple graphic of your choice.

- the "Lawrence Weiner". We invent a cover design, and write or type instructions on how to create the cover art on the album itself. The purchaser then follows our instructions to create a personalized cover that is still reminiscent of (or related to) the conceptualized cover. Bingo, conceptual art meets physical product.

- the "Puzzle Piece". This one is tougher to describe. Basically, it involves laying out all the CD cases (after folding & gluing) as one large connected canvas, then painting or otherwise decorating the entire run as one single unified art piece, then breaking the piece up into its constituent cases. Thus, each copy of the album is simultaneously a unique cover, and part of the larger piece. We will have documented the process so that each purchaser can then locate their individual cover in the greater piece, and share in the joy of owning a portion.

As I mentioned, these are just a few of the current ideas being kicked around. It is my hope that our concepts increase with the amount and caliber of artists & musicians that we attract (if any) to engage in this endeavor with us.

NEXT TIME: Fabrics: A show-and-tell of the recording process (so far), and some samples from the first non-me related release for Rule No. 6. We're breakin' new ground here, folks; and you're right here on the cutting edge with us.