Recent Work

Title: Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton
Various Artists
Label: Revenant
Street Date: October 2001


Triple Grammy Winner: Best Special Edition Boxed Set (Art Direction), Best Liner Notes, Best Historical Album

Lavish... akin to a perfect museum exhibition... [Spin]

Perhaps the greatest archival reissue in the cd age. No love was spared, from the gorgeously retro design and nearly over-the-top packaging... []

A work of mad and magical obsessiveness... worth every penny... [Newsweek]

Takes the do-something-properly-or-don't-do-it philosophy to its absolute conclusion. [Folkroots (UK)]

A set that marks a new standard in packaging and meticulous attention to every conceivable detail. The major labels could do worse than to emulate this box. [Denver Post]

Ranks easily amongst the most superb, complete, thoughtful and genuinely great achievements to be commercially issued in years. [Artvoice]

This box set makes any other that came before it look like it was made with construction paper and crayons... simply the finest of its kind. []

The single greatest piece of packaging art I have ever scarfed an eyeload on... this set must surely be absolute art. [Pat Conte, SecretMuseum, WFMU]

At the outset, Revenant label co-owner Dean Blackwood directed that this was to be a box set like no other before it. We would construct a slipcase that would house a 78 style record album that would include 128 pages of essays, maps, photos, liner notes, and lyrics, 11 pages of 66 record label stickers, 6 black and white pull out reproductions of 1929 Paramount ads, and seven record sleeves with cd caddies and cds to resemble 78s. We would also build pockets into the inside front and back covers of the album for a 112 page reproduction of a paperback book written by John Fahey, the other label co-owner, and a Xeroxed tract to fit inside the back cover of the album. We went months specifying materials and weights and sizes and engineering mock-ups.

The challenges were:
- One existing photo of Patton, in poor shape. Fill 128 pages with illustrative graphics.
- Display an excruciating amount of minutiae, detailed reference material.
- Work with manufacturers to specify, design and build something never made before.
- Do it relatively cheaply. Squeeze every penny. No pay for illustrators or photographers (see first bullet).

The concept for the Patton project was based on a set of ads for Paramount Race Records (not the same company as the present day Paramount). Early on, record companies realized that music by black artists sold well to black folk. So-called 'race records' were advertised in The Chicago Defender, a leading black-owned newspaper with a large national circulation. These ads usually had an attention-grabbing headline with a bold / descriptive illustration for the featured record, a list of other related releases and a coupon for ordering through the mail.

To begin the project, I was given multi-generational Xeroxes of poor quality laser prints of library microfilm and asked to make camera-ready posters for reproduction in the set. These would be promotional devices ('free posters') but were also the core concept for the visual theme of the box set itself.

Just like the sound engineers who had to start with scratchy abused records, I was asked to make clean reproductions out of some pretty poor source material. I had to do painstaking Photoshop work to clean up. It took me about 8 hours for each ad.


For more information: Revenant Records