When I look back to some of my early years as a graphic designer, it is with fondness because these were the times when I was experiencing many new influences within certain markets. One of these markets that I was involved with was the music publication industry within a relatively small boutique creative agency in North Sydney, Australia.
Two of the clients of the company I worked for were Virgin Records and EMI. It was with these two client’s that my experience as a graphic designer gained rapid momentum due to the fact that some creative projects were required to go into the music press quickly, that included newspapers and dedicated music publications, like Rolling Stone magazine.
It was at this point of my relatively early creative career, that I was very lucky to work on album cover artwork for bands such as AC/DC, Chocolate Starfish (both Australian rock bands), and singles cover artwork for bands such as Blur, The Tea Party, Johnny Farnham, The Beatles and Smashing Pumpkins.
Along with these album and singles release cover designs, I also designed the press material that was to accompany the 'said' album releases. It was here that I remember sending off the artwork on a floppy disk to a local typesetter who would produce (print out) the film of my designed artwork which would then be checked (proofed) and sent to another supplier who would then create what was known as ‘powder proofs’ or ‘die sublimation proofs’. This process would take the best part of a week, and once the film and proof sheets were approved by not just myself, but also the customer as this was the absolute final chance for errors to be spotted, or if the client themselves wanted to make any further changes or edits.
The printing process was the final stage of my ‘stress and excitement’ as not only was I super excited to see my wonderful designs as a finished album cover (a sample would also be given to me), but the worry of an error or printing mistake would always be at the front of my mind.
I now think that this involvement, with not just designing something myself that was to be seen by possible millions of global consumers, but the responsibility of being part of the critical process of creating something at this scale of global consumption, is something that I can be proud of, as in today’s world, this process can now be done in a matter of hours, if not minutes.
I remember seeing the band Chocolate Starfish perform on Australia’s favourite Saturday afternoon family program called ‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’ where the album cover I designed was used as a large prop for the band as they were introduced on live television broadcast to an Australian audience.
Hey hey that’s my design on TV!
That was back in 1995.