Fair Maid on the Shore



My partner, Elly Hadaway, is a folk musician, and I’ve just helped them record, produce, and release a single. You can buy digital or physical copies at Bandcamp, and I’ll talk a bit about the design aspects after the jump.

We decided to go for a gatefold cover (three-panel card) partly for eco reasons (avoiding irritating breakable plastic jewel boxes, mostly) and partly because Elly wanted to include the lyrics to both songs and this let me do it without printing and stapling an extra little booklet. You can have a look at the outside of the cover here – I don’t want to paste the whole thing into this post! The right-hand panel of 3 is the front cover of the CD, the middle third is the back cover, and the left-hand third folds inside to cover the CD itself.

Elly specifically requested “swirly bits” and really wanted a continuing design across the front and the back, so I doodled some Celtic-ish, Pictish-ish, Elven-ish swirly bits and we went back and forth across the kitchen for a few rounds of “it’s a bit too lumpy… needs to be a bit more complicated in that part… can you move it up a little” and then fitted the text around it. Normally I’d do this over email, so being able to turn the screen around and get the client’s opinion really helps. (Elly has a very good eye in any case, so they get to consult on a lot of my projects.)

The background is all done with ultramarine acrylics on mountboard, with all the textures and colour density done with the brush – there aren’t any fades or filters applied. That battered, rough-edged font is Boswell, used just as it comes, and the text font is Jura.

I used the same two fonts in the lyrics sheet, which is printed straight onto the inside of the gatefold using black text on white and a dark blue taken from the front cover for the titles.

The paper is LOOP Eco White, which is 100% recycled and carbon neutral, and comes from a worker’s cooperative near where we live in East London, so using it gives us a nice glow of virtuous satisfaction. 300gsm is a bit heavier than CD gatefolds normally run, but this stuff doesn’t come in anything between 150 and 300.

Local printers do the gatefolds two to an A3 sheet, so all I have to do is fold and cut – when folding 300gsm paper, there’s a useful trick, which is to lay it over an edge (a plank, the bottom edge of a chopping board, anything with a corner rather than a rounded edge) and use a bone folder or even the back of a spoon to make a crease before folding. Do this before cutting, because you can do both at once and there’s plenty of space on the A3 sheet to fit in some guide lines. It took me a few goes to work out how to set up a two-page PDF to print with the right registration (ie. making sure that the lyrics sheet inside was properly centred on the reverse of the cover side) but the lack of a border on the inside makes it a lot more forgiving than if I wanted to run features right up to the edge.

The CD’s kept inside the cover by a black mousseline ribbon tie, and there’s an extra slip of paper in with it with a Bandcamp download code for the digital version and instructions on redeeming it, so nobody has to go to the trouble of ripping the CD themselves. The next batch we produce will have commercial CD spiders (no, I didn’t know they were called that either, till I started trying to find them online) inside, and we’ll reserve the ribbon ties for limited edition packs.

The design on the CD itself is a version of the front cover – a section of the blue background, the title & artist’s name laid out the same way, and the track listing, all done in white to compensate for losing the swirly bits. Since we wanted to do a short run in the beginning, we decided to burn the CDs at home and have stickers printed, rather than using a commercial duplication service, but the run’s more than paid for itself within three days, so next time we’ll be getting them duplicated and printed directly.