I have been a bit busy over the past few weeks trying to do my partner Damh the Bard’s new album cover, the album is called The Cauldron Born. I always start with such big ideas about the concepts for the covers and find that my technical abilities just do not come up to par when putting them into a Photoshop environment, thank the Gods for having a creative teenage daughter who is much more able on these fronts!
The process is an interesting one as the album has to be practically finished to get a real sense of how it is going to sound before you can have any idea of how the artwork should complement the energy, and then everything very quickly becomes time pressured in order to get everything out to press.
The whole album takes months to work on whilst having to fit it in with working, and the whole house takes on a air of creative tension. Damh works all hours on writing and recording in the front bedroom of our small bungalow, every now and then he will come out of the room either utterly frustrated or bouncing with child like glee depending on what he has achieved in the past couple of hours, at which point I become a sound board as we then go through various versions of the track to listen to the levels of each instrument and it is adjusted, deleted or sometimes new things added.
At these points I have to give an “honest” opinion, but also be the epitome of tack and diplomacy, neither of these two qualities are natural parts of my nature, I tend to be very straight forward with my opinion if I like something I am comfortable to say so, but equally if something does not work for me I will not say anything just to please, I really think that that is unfair and I would not be happy if someone was not honest with me. For me all opinion is subjective and personal and therefore should be taken with grace (if it is given with grace), whilst being comfortable enough to say thank you for your opinion I will consider the points you make, but still have the confidence to do what you feel is right for you.
And so it goes on over the months whilst I try to keep the noise to a minimum in the rest of the house, with phones ringing, people knocking at the door and the dog barking her head off at any little noise, it takes over your life and no mistake. So when it comes to the last stage which is the cover, Damh is champing at the bit to get the package out the door and to press – no pressure there then! 🙂
All of the fabulous and grand ideas of working with photos and line drawing which I started with at the beginning of the process are binned! There simply are not enough hours in the day to take the photos and work out how to turn them into the images in my head, it would take weeks and more dry weather than we have had for ages to get out into the woods and take the basic shots. Then I would have to find someone to teach me everything I need to know about Photoshop to transform them, and then do the extra artwork to overlay, so I go for simplicity.
The album has a very clean and clear feel to it and a good number of the song lyrics have strong feelings to them, so I felt that simple line drawings white on black dotted through the booklet would keep with that theme. So having worked out a simple image that hopefully best illustrated the feel of each song I set to work on drawing the images. I have to say that I work best with pencil sketching or clay so these images made me work outside of my comfort zone and I struggled with the idea that less is more, but in the end I hope I managed something acceptable.
I only used one photograph in the end and that was of a cauldron from a website (with the permission of the website owners of course www.jelldragon.com), and I have to say that with the technical help of my daughter Rosalie I have learned so much from this process and will be much more confident with the next one!