This process of creating my record sleeve art was fascinating, as I discovered more about the history of Jamaican ska and reggae recording, but also more about myself as an artist through the learning experience. I hope this mini-guide inspires you to create your unique artwork in whatever medium you choose.
The Record Design Process
Now to the naked eye in modern-day society, the work looks basic and minimal with amateur graphics, but on the contrary, that is where the art came in with the devil laying in the detail.
I've had my hands in a lot of different pots and fired different arrows out of my pouch about music, be it writing it, recording it, producing it, promoting it, broadcasting it, selling it, and an awful lot of buying it, but never designed any artwork.
Now when you combine all of those, thankfully I picked up some tools to know what kind of artwork would either define or represent the music on the label, I suppose that's why Shane Hockett from Small Chop Records had approached me to work on the project with him, which I immediately accepted.
Having absolutely no background in record label art design was the least of my worries, I think the main focal point and concern any of conceptual artist designing any sort of label for a band should consist of knowing the artist, awareness of your audience, knowing the product, and branding to the demographic target audience.
I have known Shane owner and operator of (Small Chop Records) in and out of the fibers of my life since God who knows, playing records since 1980-stupid, I'm pretty sure that played a part in where the trust came to work on the design.
Shane and I work in the music and entertainment industry independently and in as a team. Together, we've collaborated on several projects, so when Shane came up with the concept of Small Chop Records I was excited to become half of the wheelhouse as Branding & Imaging Director, stemming from where it all began with
The Small Chop traveling sound system, a homemade sound system by Shane following the templates and grassroots of the historical Jamaican traveling DJ events, where Shane, The High Priestess Patricia,
and myself host free gatherings in the summer, with the sound system promoting through and alongside The Black Donnelly Media Platform that was established during the shutdown pandemic to keep the residents entertained.
For this design project, the focus was on designing an album cover for a reggae record, now I spend a lot of time digging through record bins of all types of music cultures and reggae. From the very beginning, I knew what he wanted from me: the Grass Roots style from the original reggae 7-inch records from the 1960s on Independently released Jamaican records.
When I first had the idea of designing it and putting it together in a modern-day world I also risked people unfamiliar with classic Reggae being confused to find my artwork amiture basic, in reality, it couldn't be further from that.
That was when I started thinking well who would want these? Who would be playing them? So, I chose to go with the Grassroots-type reggae design that we knew so well.
Non-Jamaican Reggae collectors, or those in graphic arts design, would only see a minimal look at best. But it was my job to capture all those small details of that era, with what they were using as well as what imagery I was supposed to create.
Like any artistic project you come up with a concept and then you start designing drafts, you pick it up, look at it, speak to the artist, you throw it against the wall, if it sticks it sticks, if it doesn't you move forward, so there were a couple of earlier drafts seen here.
After throwing several drafts at the wall, the one that stuck for us led us to the final artwork I had presented to Shane as seen below
After several drafts going back and forth, we locked in the final design of the second record for The Small Chop record label that I was proud to work on.
I was able to create a product that resonates with a contemporary audience, as well
A Sample Of The A Side
Watch for the up-and-coming media release launch of the collectors 7-inch and MP3 of the track, but in the meantime, here's a lickle taste.....
We sought to build something that was a homage to classic reggae design, I drew my inspiration from works by classic reggae record labels such as Coxsone, Studio One, and Treasure Isle. Utilizing the amazing resources working myself representing Black Donnelly Media/Small Chop Records I was able to research not only what these labels had done in the past, but also explore a modern perspective on design. With all this information, I was able to create a unique record label design that stayed true to its reggae roots, while also looking modern, timeless, and professional, and for that I am humbled.
The Featured Recording Artists On Tracks
Jesse king a.k.a Dubmatix:
CHRY 89.5 basement sessions show at noon Fridays weekly for almost a decade
Worked with many artists like Ragga Twins, Victor Rice, Marcus Visionary, Mighty Diamonds, Mungo's hi-fi, Tippa Ire, Sly, and Robbie.
Called Canada dread at the controls by Don Letts
For an Island girl that has been churning out Reggae Music for over 30 years, Jennifer Barrett, like half of the planet who were bound by the clutches of the pandemic, had been also left to put the music on hold, but the dark days of closure are now in the past and In June of last year she arose from her slumber with Your Love, her first song for 2021, and back with a Small Chop Records Feature.
The story began Jennifer Barrett artist, who was born and raised in the heart of reggae town Jamaica, a graduate of Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive School, which was where she started in the school choir, but this little Jamaican bird wasn't meant to be caged after performing in front of the prime minister at such a young age.
Her musical career started progressing to unbelievable Heights finding herself on a 6-month tour with The Wailers and being approached by several different producers in the industry. Her first recording was way back in 1989 with” this world is filled with war” Since then she has worked on numerous other tracks playing alongside Jamaica's largest Universal reggae festivals.
Small Chop Records is proud to have her as an artist working on the label, and look forward to more collaboration down the road.
Owner Operator for Small Chop Records
From a Producer, music enthusiast & collector of all genres, it's always been about the music for Shane. Whether he is chopping on the curb in the sunshine, or cutting them under a bridge with the Small Chop Traveling Sound System, any day playing music is a good day for The Rednote Selector.
Former Broadcaster for 88.1 FM
Black Donnelly Radio host for The Highview Program
Thymeless & Andy Pool Hall
REAL ROOTS RADIO UK
FAT CATS new jersey
Good times BCVANS Toronto
It was certainly an honor, privilege, and pleasure to build this design for one of Toronto's or Canada's only independent 7-in reggae record labels in production.
Dont forget to follow the feeds to check out the new release coming shortly.
I certainly look forward to working with the other Musicians on the label for 2023.
Is reggae not your thing? what about House & Alternative?
We have two new great mixes up on our Black Donnelly Radio Mixcloud channel.
The first one is from DJ Sudeep K with His ALTvibes show,
In this episode of ALTvibes,
This Will Be The Last Up Load Of ALT Vibes Your Almost Weekly Dose of Alternative Gems For 2022 thanks for listening. Looking Forward To The New Year.
This Mix Was RecordedLive At The ROM on Friday, November 25th,2022 Using A Set Of CDJ 3000s and A DJM S9 mixer
With Serato Stems.
We At BlackDonnelly Radio Hope You Enjoy This Mix
Just click the cover .......DJ. Sudeep K
The second mix comes from the mind and soul of DJ Ben E Blanco.
Ben E has been producing some great bounce to the ounce 4 to the floor with his Mixbag Series, The series has been covering a hybrid of Disco, House & Funk.
The mixes are a great journey for the dance enthusiast, great for the backdrop in the house or car for that club vibbe boogie vibe,p
resenting to you EP 71 this week.
Just click the cover .......DJ Ben E Blanco
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW, FOLLOW US, AND SUBSCRIBE HERE