it is to laugh.

There are three different posts on this blog about artwork that we screwed up.

The artwork for Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth came out entirely too dark.  The cover photo – which we actually spent a lot of time on – was shadowy and dark, the result of poor films.

The artwork for Flying Suit came out backwards – the pink parts were supposed to be turquoise, and vice-versa.  This was a result of Way To Go! Music absconding with our films and original art (and our money), and Rich having to reproduce the art from memory.  Our memories were, in fact, backwards, and so a bluish-looking CD cover came out looking pinkish.

The artwork for nurture was a 2-color silkscreen trainwreck.  That CD came out in 1994 – fifteen years ago – and I recently opened a new copy of the CD and I swear the paint was still sticky.

Recently, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of getting back in touch with Steve from cuppa joe.  This past weekend, Steve emailed me a link to what the nurture artwork was supposed to look like, had it been produced as a four-color print job as it was intended.

Here’s the artwork as we released it, next to the artwork as it was supposed to look.  Guess which one is which.


Our horrible silkscreened CD cover.

Our horrible silkscreened CD cover.


cuppa joe: Nurture art












Maybe someday we’ll have the opportunity to present all this music to people with the correct artwork, as it was supposed to look.  We’ve never heard anyone complain about the sound of any of our records (although admittedly, Flying Suit was mastered on the low side and so you need to turn up the volume a bit when listening).  The look of our records, however, left a little to be desired in a lot of cases (at least our CDs, not including Lippy – the only CD art we didn’t actually put together ourselves).  

What’s weird about this is that members of two of our bands were graphic designers, and Rich was fluent in all the technology of the time as well.  We just couldn’t get it right.

Back then, aside from nurture, which was a nightmare and we were well aware of it, the artwork issues were nothing we considered catastrophic.  But I also think that when you compare our records to the records being released by the people we considered to be our peers (or at least almost our peers, as they were all bigger than we were – but we thought our bands were just as good) at labels like Harriet, Carrot Top, Simple Machines, Pop Narcotic, Silver Girl, Ratfish, Mag Wheel and the like, their stuff always looked better than ours did.

What’s funny is that today I make my living – at least partially – designing and printing stuff.  It all looks great, I swear.

~ by Al on July 22, 2009.

7 Responses to “it is to laugh.”

  1. Maybe it could be re-released as a two-disc set – we could put the demos for all the songs on one disc with the silkscreened art, and the final songs on the other disc with the full color art. The liner notes could be the blog entry about the silkscreening – then we’d be sure to never forget.

    It is funny now – especially in light of what you point out, so many designers and design/printing-savvy people around. I guess a limited budget and a long timeframe were really the culprits.

    I’ve thought the same thing about Flying Suit over the years – it’s the lowest-mastered CD I own – but it still sounds fine when turned up.

    I remember when the CD came out, Diz (Bob, our original bass player) had a friend who went to England for a work trip. When he came back he said, “Hey, there’s a band called cuppa joe in London, too – I saw their CD in Tower Records!” Diz said, “No way! What’s their CD look like?” (this is right as Nurture was coming out) – the friend said, “There’s a pig on the cover, drinking from a bottle.” and Diz told him, “Dude – THAT’S OUR CD! We’re being sold in London!” We all felt very happy and cosmopolitan after hearing that.

    Thanks for posting this, Al.

  2. That sounds like a fantastic idea, Steve. As we’ve emailed, I am considering reviving Dromedary to some degree or other, and hopefully I’ll be able to flesh that out a bit more as the summer progresses, to see exactly what shape, if any, it will take.

    Only one problem with the concept: I will never silkscreen a CD jacket again. 🙂

    That’s a great story about the London Tower Records thing. We did have some European distro by the time Nurture came out; I guess it’s just amazing that we could find the CD at a record store across the ocean, but not in most of the stores right in New Jersey.

  3. I was kidding, but hey – I’d go for it. You could always scan the original, though…

    Yes, that was a wrinkle – the difficulty in finding it locally. Though maybe Doug was just running around, buying up all the copies for $21.99 or whatever crazy price that was.

  4. Maybe these guys can help with any future printing issues:

  5. Whoah – that’s hilarious. I thought his bio was a joke when I first started reading it – a would-be heart surgeon turned designer?! And his photo looks boy band-ish. Crazy!

  6. I never paid more than 20 pounds for a copy anywhere in Britain, oh wait. That was a dollar sign. Never mind.

    A related oddness was that somehow the CD got into the Barnes and Noble CD database, and even though there was a less than .0001 % probability one would ever see the CD in a Barnes and Noble, it was always there to look up. It became almost an entertaining parlor trick to amuse my friends.

  7. It’s like a Dromedary reunion, right in this thread!

    Doug, I think I can actually answer the Barnes and Noble question. Nick Berry, the singer from Dots Will Echo, worked in one of the chain bookstores – I think it was B&N. He had something to do with ordering the music at his location, and I believe he ordered the Dromedary titles for his store. I figure once they’re in one store’s section, they’re in the database. I actually DID see our stuff in B&N, as well as Borders and Tower. It was the obvious places where I could never find it – like Pier Platters.

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