Session 2: Non-Format

Sep 22nd, 2009

Session 2: Non Format

[column width="35%" padding="4%"]The Brief
We don’t tend to get a brief from this particular record label. We’ve been working with Lo Recordings and their off-shoot label LoAF for many many years, so the label managers give us (almost) complete freedom to art direct and design in whatever way we see fit. Our relationship is based on a decade’s worth of trust.

The Solution
This is the third Black Devil Disc Club album we’ve designed for Lo/LoAF. The first album featured a close-up shot of a black & deep red lipsticked mouth accompanied by one of our super bold custom made typefaces. The second album featured an image specially created for the album by the Belgian illustrator Géraldine Georges, with another custom made typeface appearing on the back cover. We were keen to tie in this third album with the previous two in terms of visual language, so we worked with an image that was created as part of an experimental photo shoot with long-time collaborator Jake Walters, and created another custom made typeface especially for this project.

[/column] [column width="57%" padding="0"]Yes, we were able to listen to the music before producing the album packaging. The album’s creator, Bernard Fevre, has been making music for many decades. His first album was released 1975 and was titled The Strange World Of Bernard Fevre. According to Lo Recordings the album was so far ahead of its time that even now people struggle to believe it was recorded over 30 years ago. Fevre’s background seems to be in the creation of production music – music used mostly as backgrounds for television, radio and movie productions. However, rather than any of the rather bland and faceless elevator music that’s often associated with this genre, Fevre’s recordings have a far more aggressive and darker edge.

                 Bernard Fevre now records under the name Black Devil Disco Club and this, the third album of his on Lo Recordings is partly new music and partly reissues, or remixes, from some of his older compositions. Which ones are which is something Fevre is reluctant to divulge and the album as a whole gives very few clues as to which tracks are new and which have been previously released.
                 As far as our art direction goes, we tried to continue the visual theme established with the first two Black Devil albums, 28 After and Eight Oh Eight. 28 After featured a photograph of a girl’s lips in heavy lipstick, with minimal lighting to create a darkly glamorous image. The second album featured a photo-collage by Belgian image-maker Géraldine Georges, so we wanted to create an image that would work alongside these previous albums. The image used is a heavily retouched composition created from a number of /images and is, again, a collaboration between photographer Jake Walters and ourselves.
                 The previous albums also both featured typefaces specially made for the packaging, so we continued this approach by creating a new typeface for this Strange New World album. Borrowing the balance between light and dark, that was the main theme of the typeface used on Eight Oh Eight, we again created a typeface with extreme contrast between its solid shapes and fine lines, but which owes its heritage more to German Blackletter than anything else. This typeface was then applied to spell out the name Bernard Fevre and was used as large as possible in a semi-abstract composition that accentuates its form rather than it’s function as a typeface.

You’ve developed a visually impressive back-catalog of work for Lo Recordings. Do you ever find that with Sleeve/Music design you’re allowed a greater degree of experimentation as opposed to designing for publications? Music packaging certainly allows for a great deal of freedom, so we seize the opportunity to experiment and to push ourselves as far as we can with each project. Designing music packaging isn’t exactly the most lucrative line of work these days, so we try to establish a relationship with the record label that will allow us to use music packaging design as a springboard for new ideas. Our hope is always that these projects will be seen by other clients who may be able to offer us projects that are better paid. Editorial design tends to offer quite a lot of creative freedom too. One of the great characteristics of editorial design is its ephemeral quality. It’s always reassuring to know that if we create something that was an experiment that didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, it’ll usually only be on the newsstands for about a month before it’s replaced.

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  1. David

    A month of work, and twenty-something emails later, Session 2: Non-Format finally goes live! A big thank you to Non-Format (especially Jon) for making this happen – I really appreciate all the time that went into answering each question in detail.

    For those of you that want a really close look at the artwork for ‘The Strange New World Of Bernard Fevre’ you can check out some exclusive images—which Jon kindly sent over—on the SeptemberIndustry Flickr. (Make sure you view them in ‘Original’)

  2. Good stuff mate.


  3. Kevin

    Cracking read. Cheers for putting this together.

  4. David

    Cheers mate. Glad you enjoyed it ;)

    You’re welcome. As I say, it was a combined effort between myself and Non-Format, so they deserve as much credit as I do, if not more!

  5. Good stuff.

  6. u_helv

    Excellent read mate, very enlightening, great use of this platform you have.
    I appreciate the hard work!

  7. David

    Thank you for the kind words Helv/Craig. It took a lot more time to piece together than Session 1, but it was certainly worth all the extra effort! Expect more of these Sessions in the near future…

    Before I forget, here’s a Q&A that didn’t quite make the cut…

    D: What can we expect from Non-Format this year?
    J&K: We’re planning to have a font released commercially later this year. We haven’t released any of our typefaces as fonts for the general public before, so, it’ll be interesting to see if it actually sells.

  8. AGL

    Lovely feature. Looks like 50% of Non-Format is based in Norway!

  9. David

    Delighted you enjoyed it. Based on your previous comment, I’d assume you’ve picked up a copy of Studio Culture ;)

  10. a commercial typeface? whether it sells or not it will definitely gather a lot of attention. theres no chance of a sneak preview anywhere I wonder

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