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CSNY – Déjà vu | Gary Burden for R. Twerk & Co.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

CSNY – Déjà vu

Deja Vu

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà vu

The inspiration for this artwork came from Stephen Stills’ love of the elaborate old tintypes and family journals of the 1860s.

The photograph was taken by Tom Gundelfinger and was originally meant to be an actual old-time tintype photo. I researched the process and the chemicals involved in making a tintype. I rented an old 4x5 tripod-mounted wooden tintype camera, bought the chemicals and had proper sheets of tin cut. We did it all including coating the tin “plates” with emulsion and making super long exposures of the band sitting for two to three minutes without moving. It was great and created a mood and commitment to making the photographs that is unique in a world of fast, fast exposures and barely getting a band to sit still for a second or two let alone two or three minutes. Staring into the camera for so long builds up intense energy.

In the end the photo that is the album cover was taken with a 35mm camera which I had going as back up. (It would have been difficult to keep the dog still for that time, etc.) The prints though, were actually made the old fashioned way by coating the paper with emulsion in the darkroom, laying the negative over the coated paper and putting it in the sun for various periods of time to bracket the exposure and letting the sun do the work. The finished photograph has all of the intense energy one sees in a tintype, long exposure.

Getting the photograph was only one part of making this album cover: I wanted to carry out the theme we had going by creating a package for the tintype photo that would be a leather wrapped tintype case, with gold foil stamped lettering and the tintype tipped on to the leather cover. I found a family operated paper mill in Georgia that made this beautiful paper that was almost leather in feel and had a great bumped up texture. They were the only mill that had it and I’ve always fantasized that the family made its fortunes on this order, which was very sizable.

I designed a real old time looking typeface and cartouches for the foil stamping and also found good photographic looking and feeling paper for the tipped on photo. The record company was not amused… and they called Stephen ranting and raving about the costs, he told them it was what he wanted and to get out of the way and let it happen. That they would make a lot of money on this album. He was right. It went platinum in weeks.


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