Mixed Tape: New Techniques for Old School

“Cassette tape” from 300 Drawing Prompts book.

When I started this cassette tape drawing, I tried to draw from memory. But it had been years since I had handled a cassette tape so I had to go find one. I learned and tried out some new techniques and products while painting this prompt. I like the iridescent paint for finishing touches.

I loved lettering the ribbon text. This requires further practice. It requires figuring out how the text would twist and turn to form text. I discovered that the Micron pen used for the outlines does not bleed or smear. Even after I painted over it. Pleasantly surprised that it did not. The 300 prompts book gives me an opportunity to try new techniques in painting and drawing. 3 months ago, I had never really hand-lettered anything.  The same with water painting. Had never tried it. Acrylics were my thing. If you could say it was a thing, considering that I hadn’t touched a paint brush in years.  I heard somewhere recently that water painting requires patience. Something I need to develop. After painting, I added a bit of iridescent watercolor paint to the red and the brown

old school cassette tape drawing

added a bit of iridescent watercolor paint to the red and the brown

Who remembers putting the label on the best “mixed tape”ever and the label keeps going on crooked no matter how many times you try to place it? So you finally just let it be crooked. You had to move the label up with your fingernail so it didn’t cover the necessary hole in the cassette case. You knew what songs were on it by 💓 heart 💓and the crinkled label made it easy to pick out from the stacks of tapes lying around. Though the outside was imperfect, this tape could bring you out of a slump after a hard day. There was always that one song that was an ‘angry’ song that you crank up in the car and sing at the top of your lungs after a fight with your boyfriend or just generally a bad day. Then there were the songs that made you feel all mushy inside. If repeat were a thing for cassettes, that song would have been on perma-repeat.

Those songs recorded off the radio and always had DJ jabber over the beginning of the music. You’d sit by your cassette recorder with the radio antenna angled in just the right position for the perfect reception. Waiting for that *one* song to come on the radio. Heart pounding, fingers poised, just waiting. Then you hear the intro music. Your heart leaps, and you tense up, just wishing for the DJ to stop talking and still get some of that luscious music at the beginning of the song before the singer begins their serenade. You knew the song by heart and knew the do or die moment to push the play and record buttons down in unison. It was never a perfect recording, but it made for the perfect mixed tape. Even if the song at the end of one side cut off in the middle and started again on the other side, that is, if you could flip the tape fast enough.

Making a mixed tape was the ultimate sign of friendship

Making a mixed-tape was the ultimate sign of friendship. Sometimes that tape was so good that you had to make a copy of the mixed tape before you could give it away. You and your new best friend (if they weren’t before, they were now!) could discuss the songs for hours about how they fit your life and how the artist really knew what you were going through when they wrote their latest songs. If you dared to give a mixed tape to your crush, you could either create a life-long love affair or be completely rejected and have to avoid them for the rest of your life. I wonder how many mixed tapes were actually destroyed by sweaty hands clasping the mixed tape tightly anticipating how it would be received: with joy or with distaste.

Then the day your trusty cassette player, Walkman, boombox, car stereo whatever it was that played your music ate your mixed tape, is the day the clouds darkened and the rain fell. You were pretty sure your life was over. There would never be another mixed tape that good. Later when CDs were first new, you’d still make a mixed tape by recording the songs from the CD until CD burning became a thing. But it didn’t have the same thrill. There was no adrenaline rush anticipating THE song to come on the radio. It was the beginning of the end for this now “old school” way of life.

on the day that your tape was eaten, you knew there would never be another mixed tape that good.


What songs did you have recorded on your old-school mixed tape? Or what songs would you put on it today?

On my “best ever” mixed tapes I had some:

  • Backstreet Boys
  • *NSYNC
  • Brittney Spears
  • Smashmouth
  • Eve 6
  • Savage Garden
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Spin Doctors
  • New Radicals
  • Aerosmith
  • The Wallflowers
  • The Cranberries
  • Train
  • Cake
  • Dave Matthews
  • Don’t forget about The Goo Goo Dolls.
  • Even Bryan Adams made it on there sometimes – a tribute to my sister: who, of course, bestowed her love for 80’s music before she flew from the nest.

Yep, good times. Good times. I don’t mind going old school when nostalgia like this is the result, just as long as I get to practice new techniques. New to me anyway. Life is like a perfect mixed tape. Completely Imperfect.

Life is like a perfect mixed tape, and that's ok

Things I loved about this prompt:

  • Remembering the good times
  • The outline on the lettering with the Sakura Micron Pen (.25mm)
  • The ‘shine’ from the Gelly Roll Pen
  • I loved creating the ribbon lettering, anticipating how the cassette ribbon would flow to create words – this is definitely something I want to master
  • I want to put some shimmery iridescent water color paint over the ribbon and maybe the label

Things I want to improve/don’t like:

  • Feeling old when remembering the good times.
  • I read somewhere that water painting is all about patience…well crap. I need more patience. I tell that I needed more patience with the lettering, it bled together because I didn’t want to wait for it to dry before doing the 2nd layer. And around the holes. Ah well.
  • The rough lines around the edges

I used Alresi Font Type for inspiration for the ribbon and in the images with a plastic look applied to it. Love the effect.

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Aleresi Font Type

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All opinions expressed were solely mine and from my heart.




2 thoughts on “Mixed Tape: New Techniques for Old School”

  1. I think I had a mix tape exactly like yours. Great quotes, too! I’m adding them to my quote book with my new pens that you recommend. Thanks for the inspiration Chocolate Musings! Keep them coming!

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