It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jennifer Evans: The Last Cheap Hotel Promotional Package

I have been working for the last several months through New Arts Collaborative on a promotional package for folk singer Jennifer Evans. This included updating the look of her website and designing the cover for her new CD, “The Last Cheap Hotel.”
Evans’ elegant mezzo, her insightful phrasing and her warm connection with audiences make her a spellbinding performer and balladeer. The stories she tells with song — some of the most memorable composed by her brother Griff —  deliver us into the throes of joy, love, loss, remembrance and hope. The design of the materials was determined partly by the singer's personal preferences, but also by the mood and social conscience of the music. 

The first thing was to develop a mood board. One of Jennifer's music heroes and influences was folksinger Woody Guthrie. This seemed to call for a visual style that would capture something of the period in which he was singing, 1930's depression-era Americana. I started looking at a lot of depression-era artwork including Edward Hopper, to try to come up with a look and feel for the package. I developed some "theme boards" comprised of images from that period.
Working with Jennifer,  New Arts Collaborsative principal Rae Francoeur and photographer Kathy Tarantola scouted locations on the north shore and tried to pin down a wardrobe for the shoot. They eventually found a large Victorian house to serve as a backdrop/setting in Jennifer's hometown of Danvers. Although not a "cheap hotel" it had the proper kind of run-down gentility that we were looking for.

They tried numerous poses, and several different outfits before we all agreed on one that we liked.
Once the main images and style were set, I began designing the CD packaging.  We decided to go with Oasis Disc Manufacturing as the vendor, and after exploring several options for packaging, decided to use one of their environmentally-friendly CD-UD100 digipaks.
This went through many many rounds of changes and revisions on image, type and configuration until we arrived at this design for the CD package.

 This is the front and back cover layout, and a sample spread for the 16-page insert booklet.

We decided to go with a solid-color design for the CD itself.

Once the CD print packaging was completed, the next step was to redesign Jennifer's website to more closely reflect the new album . This is the homepage for the old website. It was perfectly functional, but had not been updated in several years.

Using iWeb and some third-party applications for customization, I developed a design for a new, quick, inexpensive and easy-to-maintain, 6-page website that would include links to social media, sites where you could listen to and purchase the music, download the lyrics and press photos, and generally reflect the new branding of the CD packaging.  Below are three sample pages from the new site.
As of this posting it is still being updated, and revised.

In addition to the CD packaging, as we approached the actual release of the album, I designed and produced a number of other print collateral pieces that were either sent to Radio stations and promoters, were included with the CD at performances, or appeared as PDFs on the website for download.
These included a Q&A document:

A description of the tracks on the album.

A press release.

A lyric sheet.

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