Backatcha Records: Branding, Design & Art Direction
From the beginning, design has been directly connected to music for me. I started by making flyers for the parties of friends, painting and printing logos and letters on the clothes I was dancing in at those parties and of course stealing ideas from the album cover art of the records I was obsessing over. Not much has changed, other than some of those equally obsessed friends now have their own record labels or are recording their own records. Now, I feel extremely lucky to have my friends, personal interests and professional avenues tied so closely together. Even though I expect to wake up from it at any moment, this living dream of designing for vinyl records and physical media seems to carry on and on. Visit Backatcha Records website.
The analog process
When Aidan and I started Backatcha Records, we decided to give each of the labels for our vinyl releases the same attention to detail that we gave to the discs of plastic onto which these discs of paper would be stuck.
Considering that we re-release a lot of older material, we could have simply scanned the original labels and reprinted them, slapping our logo somewhere. But as a designer, I found it much more interesting to try to recreate the original design aesthetic of these labels from scratch, working our name in as subtly as possible, if at all, so that anyone who was familiar with the originals would be like, "Oh wow. Look what they did there."
This artwork from the 70s and 80s was often created by the band members or producers themselves, mixing their homemade art and logos with backgrounds and fonts chosen from whatever the presses literally had in-house. These were the days of paste-up design, before digital layout was even possible.
If an original label had hand-painted elements, then I recreated them by painting them myself for the BK releases, as with Dõlette Mcdonald, Christine Lewin / Tricia Dean and Aka Shaic. If someone in the band drew their logo with a felt tip marker, then I did the same, as with Ice Band. Sometimes I simply re-drew logos exactly as they were and other times I introduced our own little additions, in-jokes and middle-fingers-up to the haters.
Other times I created completely original art that I thought suited the artists, their music and the time and place it was made, as with Jady Kurrent / Ja'Net Dubois and Theatre West. It was fun to see some of this stuff fool bootleggers so well that they used our art, assuming it was the original. Suckers!
Other fun things we did to go the extra mile were using uncoated paper, grouping releases with original sleeve art, using spot colors / metallic inks and even adding original illustrations by Theodore Richards
When Aidan reaches out to artists in the first place in the hopes of putting out their work, it always starts from a longstanding love for the material. When those artists finally get the physical BK release back from us, we hope they smile wide.