design for web and print
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Imagine images, symbols and typefaces running through your mind; dreaming of the Letraset and Mecanorma Catalogues every other night, waking up in a cold sweat. This terror of the mind only began to diminish when I started to receive pay cheques. The NME was the first, closely followed by Rough Trade Records - and Distribution.
The DIY ‘have-a-go’ approach at Rough Trade suited me totally, no pomp or pretensions; one of first things I was asked to do, was to illustrate Peter Walmsley’s ‘How to make a Record’, which was a very small booklet, photocopied, cut and folded. Other black and white images were drawn with the photocopier in mind, although soon I had access to a PMT machine thanks to Colin from CB Press, who operated from his nearby flat off Portobello Road, W11.
Claude Bessy, RT ‘music consultant’ and the Hacienda's in-house videographer and raconteur, had a penchant for religious artwork and he introduced me to the first printshop in London with a colour photocopier. Having no ‘office space’ to speak of, I found that working in the nearby Westbourne Grove Library, was just about possible, enough although it meant that clearing my throat or a slight cough was necessary in order to cover the noise of using spray mount.
Serendipity perhaps then played a part: I was asked to design a comprehensive listing of all rough trade distributed labels; I suppose you could call it an ‘inventory’, a chronological compilation of recordings from the past three to four years [78-81]. This finally emerged as a 48 page A4 magazine, simply called the Catalogue, and it essentially kickstarted my career.
Soon enough, I was working above the Rough Trade shop in Talbot Road W11, on a listings magazine called MasterBAG, which I assumed was a logical progression, yet when Richard Cranna and Keith Alcorn were recruited for their journalistic prowess, I was aware that this was a step up from photocopy ‘cut & paste’. With a discrete masthead declaring: The news magazine of the independent wholesalers, MasterBAG was conceived and created for the independent music trade, and was ultimately published with a free Flexi Disc and rumbled on until the final Issue 18; which featured a Fall interview by Helen Fitzgerald and a Blitz Flexi.
There wasn’t really that much time from the last MasterBAG to the advent of a new publication: reverting to the name of the inaugural Catalogue, the new listings magazine was really a metamorphosis of MasterBAG ~ minus the Flexi and the intention of not wanting to lose money this time round.
With more and more record labels and releases than ever, The Catalogue was fully supported and distributed by The Cartel: Backs; Fast; Nine Mile, Probe; Red Rhino, Revolver & Rough Trade.
Then I was asked to design a Rough Trade Calendar for 1982, which was also used separately as twelve monthly ‘press releases’, publicising release dates of Cartel records. Printed by CB Press.
Due to an overabundance of fleas above the shop, I was now working at Blenheim Crescent, W11 and other jobs came my way: my first record sleeve was Diamanda Galas, followed soon after by David Thomas and the Pedestrians, and when searching for an image for this, I happened to come upon this site: Discogs, which has served to jog my memory of much that got accomplished, back in the day.
A highly productive and creative period commenced with these two sleeves: view more here.
Originally a Poster: ‘Marching Towards Red Square’ in Cyrillic Type, of which there are no known copies, this image was used for the Cartel’s various Ad campaigns as seen in the Music Press.
Research shows it was Geoff Travis who suggested the 'collective' word ‘Cartel’ for the seven independent distributors: Backs, Fast, etc.
To be continued...