Design of the Package
The best of the various photos were formatted and distributed for the final review and selection process, and after a good bit of deliberation the choices were made. A number of different colors were tried for the text which led to the conclusion that the same rich gold color we had introduced on business cards we had previously designed for JD and also employed for the car parade banners would be the perfect complement and in fact carried forth a unified presentation theme. We also concluded that a barely noticeable offset black shadow would be used for all the text to make it stand out more and to provide a smooth background for situations where text would flow across multiple colors in the pictures.
JDís traditional signature logo which has appeared on all of his CDís gave us absolute fits. The original artwork for it was in the form of a hand painted script someone had done for him many years ago. He no longer could find the original and had no film or digital copies. We had lifted a small version of it from one of his CDís and digitally cleaned it up sufficiently to be used on the business cards and banners, but felt it needed to be much better for the CD cover. Consequently, Ed spent quite a few hours carefully smoothing it and cleaning out unwanted jaggedness and general artifacts using Photoshop often at the individual pixel level. And in the process he made the resulting image very high resolution which could serve any imaginable future need.
We should mention that a major consideration and fundamentally key decision in the design process was the determination of the specific type packaging to be used. There are a number of variations coming into common use including ones which are primarily constructed of cardboard and which can be made with different numbers of panels (display surfaces) incorporated. Also there are the plastic clamshells and slim jewel cases. There are attractive advantages to each model and we did spend a lot, make that a whole lot, of time going back and forth and basically reaching an impasse in our discussions with JD. Being the smart guy he is, he resolved the matter by requesting that the decision be made by Sandra, which she did. It was to be the traditional, full size jewel case with her reasoning being it best met our original objectives of creating a highly professional, top-of-the-line product. She also noted a practical preference which was most people with CD collections stack them or put the cases in cabinets or drawers such that the titles on the edges are visible. The newer type cases definitely donít lend themselves to that.
With that decision made, JD was insistent the insert (the printed part that slips into the front of the jewel case) be a four panel one. He also was adamant that the CD tray holder be clear so text could be placed to show through the left hand hinge area of the case when it was closed. It creates a three dimensional look which proved to be extremely effective in the overall layout and certainly contributes to the distinctiveness achieved.
Use of the clear tray for the CD holder also gave us the opportunity to incorporate another photo and solve the challenge of where to give the fairly lengthy attribution of owners of the recording rights and composers of the songs in the collection. The physical CD was designed to have a solid black background with gold text and logos. And the part of the tray card visible around the CD when it was in place was made the same black. But when the CD was removed from the holder a round picture became visible beneath where it had been. Remember the afterthought photo session at John Barkerís studio? One of those photos was used for the area under the CD, and the names of the owners and composers were superimposed on the left side with a margin exactly following the curvature of the edge.
Each part of the artwork for the package had numerous mockups constructed, often with only very subtle changes between the versions, until it was obvious to all of us we had achieved exactly what we wanted.
With regard to the finished design weíll fast forward for a moment to the point when the CD project had been finished, the CDís had just been made available for purchase, and we were sitting in the office of Harold Bessent, a truly iconic figure in the Myrtle Beach and Carolinas music scene. Harold opened the CD we presented him and ever so carefully studied every element of the package, slowly moving from one part to another all the while with a look of intense concentration on his face. After what seemed an eternity (we think we were holding our breaths), he held the jewel case up in the air, looked at us and said "This is one of the very finest CD packages Iíve ever seen. Damn, the artwork alone is worth the cost of the CD. Ed and Sandra, youíve done a fabulous job Ė this is just wonderful!" Certainly he had to be exaggerating for effect, but no higher, more personally significant praise could we ever hope to receive. Thank you, Harold.
By the way, Harold is a long-time fan of JD's singing and has told us more than once what a great voice he has. He was very pleased that JD is recording again.
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