Saturday 26 June 2010

The name of this blog is Dublog

Having a nosey in Norwich's branch of HMV the other day, I noticed the Black Keys album on a promotional 'recommendations' stand. I think it was Jade who recommended it. Presumably she works in HMV and is informed by the NME as to what music would make her look cool if she declares an allegiance. Either that or she took a bung from the record company and doesn't care what people think about her tastes.

The Black Keys Brothers by Michael Carne

The thing that struck me most about the album sleeve was it's striking similarity, in concept, to XTC's Go 2 by Hipgnosis. Albeit, a much watered down version without the searingly postmodern ironic subtext.

It made me wonder whether the music the CD contained was as much a pastiche as the artwork? Listening to it on Spotify, I find it is. Not a pastiche of 1978 XTC though, The Futureheads have that market covered. More a pastiche of a Jack White pastiche of some 1969 psychedelic rock band. A limp Cream, if you will.

Then in The Guardian Guide today, there's an article about a website that tells the stories behind the choice of typeface on record sleeves, called (sic). The article fails to mention that the 1920s designed face is called Cooper Black, one I associate more with the mid 1970s than late 60s psychedelic metamorphosis into heavy rock. It does however, claim that it is a savvy choice considering its associations with The Beach Boys. I'm not sure about that, and the article about the sleeve is equally as shallow. OK, so I prefer the typographic rendering for Brothers than I would were it some Wes Wilson style psychedelic composite, which would be more in keeping with the music. But still, it is pretty lame. (There's a much better post on about Cooper Black's use on De La Souls' Stakes Is High).

My linking of these two pieces of work lead to a chain of thought about other examples of graphic design's ironic 'oh aren't we clever by pointing out the bleeding obvious' tool. Two examples below, it could be argued, owe a debt to Hipgnosis. Take Hard-Fi's 2007 Once Upon A Time In The West.

Hard Fi, Once Upon A Time In The West. (Artwork credit needed.)

Or Public Image Limited's 1986 Album.

Public Image Limited, Album. (Artwork credit needed.)

That said, the above could be seen as a borrowing from Alex Cox's 1984 film Repoman, check the beer can.

Now, borrowing and appropriation in graphic design are nothing new, just as it isn't in music. But what intrigues me is the lack of reference to the genesis, the original. I can draw lineage between PiL and Hard Fi and debate that there's a visual nod to their predecessors, the visual references almost give credit where it is due. Where as The Black Keys sleeve is such an obvious 'lift', and a lazy one at that, that I can't help feel they are doing an original idea a massive disservice when it was so much more substantial.

(And as an ironic aside, to prove nothing is original, in searching for designer credits to accompany this post, I discovered Album Art Exchange and Sleevage blogs that have both made similar connections as I have in this post. Links below.)


Friday 18 June 2010

If it was my home

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

The BP oil spill if it were in Ipswich


Thanks Peter.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Triptych competition

Not being a football fan I'm not looking forward to the coming World Cup. The appearance of football related gumpf hanging from the ceiling of my local co-op about 2 months ago announced the start, and now flags are appearing on about every fourth car that passes me as I walk to work. Patriotism is something I'm as equally baffled by so this is just as annoying to me.

But then, trauma of traumas, it happens. I should have predicted it. As different establishments jump on the bandwagon, out come the George Cross AND Comic Sans posters! Here's the first I spotted today in a pub somewhere near Ipswich, (I'll keep their identity hidden so as not to be accused of advertising).

The shame of it

So, I'm running the very first Dubdog competition. Submit your photos to me of your sightings of this dreaded triptych atrocity of Comic Sans, Football, and the George Cross. The person who emails me the one I deem the worst will receive an A3 McJunk print. I'll post all submissions to Flickr as they are received. My email details are available from the Dubdog website.

Competition closes whenever the World Cup does. Dubdog's decision is final. No cash alternative offered.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Stir it up

I never 'got' Bob Marley I'm afraid, excepting very early Wailers ska and rocksteady cuts. That said, I'm currently really getting into his coffee.

Thanks E & M.

Friday 4 June 2010


Guests start to gather

Well done to all the Level 6 Graphic Design students at UCS, whose summer show Private View was a great success.

The show continues until 17 June at University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, and also showcases Fine Art, Computer Games Design, Film & Media, Interior Design and Photography courses.
10am - 6pm weekdays
11am - 3pm weekends

Congratulations to award winners:
Chris Bright
Nicki Cockshaw
Sean Cooper
Luke Hall
Mark Matthewson
Tom Oliver

Check Tom Oliver's blog for a time lapse photography film of the show being constructed.

Dubdog II