Music and the art of papercraft

16 02 2008

I'm the front cover!

Little did I realise what I was getting when I ordered Arcs Across the Sky by up-and-coming Birmingham band Johnny Foreigner from Norman Records. Not because the music was unexpected – good though it is – but because of the packaging.

I'm the full package!

The cd comes in a wonderful pop-up 3d sleeve which not only looks fabulous but is also a vision of an alternative Birmingham, one taken over by blue alien blobs. Although the outer packaging hints at this vision of a different Birmingham (and not the one in MA) it is on the the cover (above) and the internal art work where it can be seen most clearly, with the BT Tower, Selfridges, the Rotunda and even the vanished Birmingham Eye making an appearance.

I'm the inside cover!

This attention to detail continues throughout the object, even extending to the cd itself:

I'm the actual CD!

The only area which has not been given quite the care and attention it deserves is the credits, as nowhere on the package or website can I find who to praise for this. I do also wonder how this works financially for a new band on a small independent label, Best Before Records, as it must put the costs up significantly. Still, with art like this it’s well worth it!

EDIT: the Johnny Foreigner artwork is by Lewes Herriot.

I'm the blob and tower!

Arcs Across the Sky my be the best designed and executed example I have of papercraft cd packaging but it is by no means the only one. Possibly the most extreme is the one for Argentinian Tangos and Lyric pieces by Grieg by the bandoneon player Per Arne Glorvigen, which comes in its own cardboard bandoneon:

Try playing this bandoneon

I heard about this disc, and the package, when Glorvigen was interviewed by Andrew McGregor on BBC Radio 3. By the time the interview had finished I’d found and ordered a copy, which was an achievement as it is only available from the French site Music Argentina and I don’t read French.

Not all papercraft packaging works and beautifulgarbage by Garbage is an excellent example of how not to do it:

It's a rose?

I think it’s supposed to be a fold out rose but as a package it is fiddly and difficult to get the cd out of and the instructions on which order to fold are no help.

Just follow the instructions

This post has been about the package, not the music (I like the music on the Garbage cd, just not the case), but I would like to point people to more information on and reviews about Johnny Foreigner, which can be found here and here.

Any other examples of papercraft cd covers I should know about?

— Words and pictures by Paul

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4 responses

16 02 2008
kay Hancox

There’s a lp (you remember them, large black things) by Man that has a gatefold sleeve with a fold out, pop up map of Wales.

17 02 2008
Inversion Layer

Kay – I didn’t even consider the plastic technology (they are all in the loft – out of sight etc) but yes, you are quite right about the contribution from lps, especially those gatefold sleeves. I do remember a very impressive Hawkwind cover for, I think, Warrior on the Edge of Time which Wikipedia tells me folder out into a large shield.

7 06 2008
one by one fulfills a plan and leaves 3 ghosts in Birmingham « Inversion Layer

[…] by one fulfills a plan and leaves 3 ghosts in Birmingham 7 06 2008 As a coda to this earlier post the début CD from Birmingham band Johnny Foreigner, waited up til it was light, comes with seven […]

7 02 2010
Your essential travelling companion: the little book of portable pop-up altars « Inversion Layer

[…] In a robust portable form the book contains pop-up altars for Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga and Ganesha. This is a fine example of a pop-up or ‘movable book’ with the paper engineering done by Bruce Foster and the art by Pieter Weltevrede. If you want to know more about movable books then there is a good history of the subject from the University of North Texas or our earlier post on music and the art of papercraft. […]

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