here’s the rub: scratch, scratch

by Art Chantry:

found this yesterday down the street at an old lumber mill that was going out of business (maybe the last one int he state). it’s a promo card (pardon the water stains) for their own line of sandpaper called “Sandy Smooth”. brilliant name, eh? they actually went to far as to cut out little “can’t bust ‘ems” out of their sandpaper and glue it to the image of little “sandy smooth” on this ad card – in a classic “the army wants you pose” of the era. i love it when they did things like this. it’s way too expensive to do these days. they actually did all this by hand back then. labor was so cheap. but, i guess we can do stuff like this again because of all that slave labor in china, right? that’s why allĀ  the amazing printwork design (books, magazines, packaging, etc.) is happening today – cheap labor. slavery has always been a big boon to graphic design.


this little item reminds me of a project i worked on back in the early 90′s. a band called “jack o’ fire’ (a sort of ‘puke blues’ band shoved through thrift store tech and 30 years of punk rock). they were on the verge of breaking up over internal disputes. so dave crider and i at estrus records were going to send them off in a blaze of glory with an amazing package design.

to begin with, this was a band that prided itself on producing their music themselves on reels of tape found in thrift stores. they proudly bragged their last record cost them $12 to record(!). so we figured that they’d sound even better on 78 rpm – like those old vintage shellac 10″ “victrola” records from the thrift stores.

we found a pressing plant that could actually still make them (gone now). so we were going to press them in a 10″ size with EXTRA thick black vinyl. then were going to design a record cover PRINTED ON SANDPAPER. but, here’s the “rub” – the sandpaper was going to be on the INSIDE of the sleeve. that way, whenever you slipped that disk in or out of the sleeve, it would scratch the shit out of the record!

since so much of our customer base was record collector vinyl fanatics, we figured that would really freak them out. it may even make them buy TWO copies – one to listen to and one to save in the shrink-wrap – thus DOUBLING sales!! clever,huh? what the modern collector didn’t realize is that this band loved sounding like an ancient old vinyl record from a thrift store. scratches were added anyway, so adding more only made it ‘better.’

besides, at 78rpm (almost twice as fast as a 45rpm single and pushing 3 times as fast as a 33 1/3 12′ LP) the needle skips over the scratches so fast that you almost can’t hear the damage. that’s why so much of that music survives at all, considering how the things have been tossed around over the last century. cool, eh? this package would have been brilliantly freaky on so many levels.

but, the band broke up acrimoniously before we were able to get the thing out. now we’ll never be able to do it. so, i guess one of you out there gets to try it and take all the credit for the idea and become a cool famous genius designer like sagmeister. merry xmas, copycats! LOL!

take all you want. i’ll just make more…

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