Is it just me or is all the innovative cover art being done for the least likely bands. Does being popular dictate that you must be safe? Beck would be the only mainstream artists who are doing anything innovative. Moldover, Menomena, ALB, Bright Eyes, Beck and Pine Bender all have innovative covers and yet they would be the bands you’d think would have little budget to do anything but a standard 4 colour jewel case.
Zinplaat’s 4th album Mooi Besoedeling is another innovative album cover. The cover and back are printed with scratch off ink. Like an instant scratchy. The cover appears to be a very simple design and yet hides a very different cover under the ink.
The designers at Fanakalo gave me this brief overview of the covers design.
Zinkplaat is an Afrikaans pop-rock-blues-fusion band from South Africa. The name Zinkplaat is the Afrikaans word for corrugated metal. This, their fourth album comes shrink-wrapped with a scratch-off ink layer on the front and back, as well as a guitar pick to scratch the ink off with. The albumâ€™s name â€˜Mooi Besoedelingâ€™ translates to â€˜Beautiful Pollutionâ€™. Their brief was to create a universal artwork that didnâ€™t form one central image, plastered on the front, which serves as a metaphor for the album title.
We responded by creating a colourful collage that represents the bandâ€™s various diverse influences coming together to create something new. The silver scratch-off ink resembles corrugated metal and we also designed the actual disc to have the unpressed silver form part of the design. We believe this is a very good functional solution to the fact that a simplistic clean cd cover design stands out most from all the clutter on a store shelf, yet is very boring once bought. We leave the concept open to interpretation, as it can be read as the silver layer being pollution or the fact that by scratching off the ink you ‘damage’ your packaging. However one wants to read the album as a concept, at least it’s very interactive seeing as people seem to love the scratch-off ink…
I have a copy of the album with me (I requested it ASAP after seeing the video below) but now I’m too precious to scratch it off. Luckily there’s already a good set of photos. I prefer the half scratched off look personally. The random montage of images works best when revealed through frantic scratching. I bet anyone seeing this half scratched cover on my desk at work could not resist having a scratch.
I’d love to get a poster made of this scratch off ink.
The back cover also got the same ink treatment.
I asked Rohan at Fanakalo if the printing was expensive, which for a small band not doing hundreds of thousand copies might be a major issue. Also was it was tough to convince the band to go forward with it?
The band signed off on it immediately because they briefed us wanting something ‘never done before’. We printed through an agent (hybrid media solutions) who outsourced the printing to Asia, so the cost wasn’t ridiculously expensive.
I guess it’s the band are willing to spend the extra money on the final product. When not looking solely at profit, you have the vision to think about the package as a whole (experience and the music) rather than just the $$$.
I also asked what the response has been in South Africa and record shops.
South Africa’s music industry is very small and monopolised (there’s only 2 big stores/franchises) – and the other thing is that Zinkplaat is an Afrikaans band, which makes it even harder for them to get shelf space because they compete directly with international albums. But after printing and selling the first batch the record store ordered an extra batch about 3 weeks after the album was launched, which is quite a feat in SA. Normally the record store doesn’t request music from local artists.
I asked about the language, as this is the first Afrikaans band I have been exposed to. Why not sign in English or is it like Rammstein?
In a country where we know Afrikaans and English we love having music that is only Afrikaans and only we can understand. Afrikaans is also a very beautiful language which is often much more descriptive and poetic than English.
Some bands from south africa worth checking out:
die heuwels fantasties
All credit to the band for putting the album together but you have to give credit to the designers for creating something which gives the band a point of difference.
I also like the inside band photo by Mark Reitz. I can’t help but think of The Hangover when I see this.
We were also sent some work in progress artwork for what the cover could have been. Rohan said;
the two montages was the direction we went first and realised it was too ‘picture’ – so we went more abstract and got to the final design. the montages sort of ended up being mood boards
And the designers also made a wine label (for the launch party and merch) and T-Shirt design from the cover.
Seeing the wine label gave me an idea, only to find that it had already been done with Wines That Rock. To make it worse the company only launched in October this year. Damn! I should ask for a freebie for pimping it here :)
It’s the interactivity of the cover that I like. Like all the covers I mentioned at the top of the post, they all give you something to do with the packaging once you hold it in your hands. It’s not just an elaborate packaging job whose sole purpose is to not fit in your CD holder (do people still have CD holders?) This is something you can’t experience just by looking at it. Even the best piece of typography can be experienced by looking at a jpeg however these need to be held, opened and played with.