Album Cover Hall of Fame News Update and Summary – April, 2020
Posted April 1, 2020 by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Greetings from Chicagoland. While it’s my hope that my monthly news summaries bring a little joy into your lives, I must admit that the preparation and delivery of this month’s article during a world-wide health and economic crisis had me wondering whether any of you would be disappointed if I’d chosen to put things off for a while. With many of us sequestering ourselves from the outside world and/or having to deal with the loss of a job, serious health and family issues and a general fear of the unknown, it seems to me that we all have a lot more on our minds than the answer to the question “what’s happening in the world of album cover art and packaging?” Keeping this in mind, and accepting the fact that I’m sure most of you realize that I have more time on my hands to sit at my computer than usual, I’ve decided to shoot out a somewhat-truncated summary document both to keep fans of album art informed and to give this lonely and frustrated soul something to do while we ride this out together.
And who would have thought that there’d be some actual news in the album cover art world that is actually well-connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’d invite you all to take a look at this article on the Variety Magazine web site about the steps being taken to clean and preserve one of the world’s most-visited tourist destinations featured on an album cover (“Iconic Beatles Abbey Road Crossing Gets a Fresh Coat of Paint Thanks to Coronavirus”) – https://variety.com/2020/music/news/beatles-abbey-road-crossing-1203546827/ Also, while I’d hoped to be able to report the winner of this year’s JUNO Award (the top awards in the music industry in Canada) in the “Album Artwork of the Year” category, the show was cancelled due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus and will be rescheduled for a later date.
On a more-positive note, I would like to invite those of you who may have not yet read my in-depth interview article with this year’s Grammy Award winner in the “Best Box Set/Limited Edition Package” category – designer/art director Masaki Koike – who won for his work on the very-impressive Rhino package commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock festival – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2020/03/09/achofs-interview-with-2020-grammy-award-winning-art-director-masaki-koike/ I think that the previously-mentioned items, along with some very nice stories I’ve sourced from all over the world about upcoming gallery shows, new print releases, top-notch book projects and more, should provide you with some moments of cheer, wonder and appreciation of the talents and work of those who’ve made our favorite album covers. No mask or gloves are required, so why not take a minute and let’s get started…
Exhibitions and Gallery Show Info –
UPCOMING OPENING) Last month, I reported about a show taking place at the Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles featuring the works of album art design master (and 2019 ACHOF Inductee) Rod Dyer, and while most galleries are currently closed to the public, I did read some encouraging news that Mr. Musichead’s owner, Sam Milgrom, is partnering with LA restaurateur Phillip Camino to open a second location in a space adjacent to the Fellow Restaurant at 1073 Glendon Ave. in Westlake Village. Of course, the opening was postponed due to the CoronaVirus situation, but I’m told that we’ll hear more about this new art space soon.
ALREADY CLOSED, BUT NOTEWORTHY) As you’ll read a little later in this news summary, world-renowned photo journalist Elliott Landy’s current effort involves prep work for an upcoming book built around his famous (and some unpublished) photos of The Band in the late 1960s but, last Summer, with the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music and art festival often serving as the backdrop, Mr. Landy was a busy boy on the exhibition front, with his work being the subject of a number of shows around the world (including the U.S., Canada and Europe). One show that was particularly impressive was staged at the beautiful 17th century baroque church of St. Egidien in Nuremburg, Germany from August 15th through September 30th, 2019.
According to Mr. Landy’s press at the time, “This exhibition is based on Elliott Landy’s book, Woodstock Vision—The Spirit of a Generation. Seeing it is an immersive experience – as there are light shows and videos on the ceilings, murals on the walls as well as 166 of Elliott’s fine art prints. It is not only about the Woodstock Festival, but also includes photos of rock musicians at the Fillmore East in NYC, Anti-Vietnam War and Abortion Rights demonstrations, satirical celebrity photographs (Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Faye Dunaway, etc.) from the NY scene from 1968-1969. There are 166 Prints (20×30 inches, 50 x 70 cm) by Elliott, 30 minutes of his new form of musical videos (not available anywhere else,) a 60’s style light show on the cavernous ceiling of the church, plus mural-sized photographic prints installed throughout the church.”
Since I hadn’t seen anything about this show last year (sorry about that), I did reach out to Elliott this past week to ask him a few questions about this extremely-impressive display:
Mike G – Can you tell me where the idea for this show came from – that is, was there a principal producer for the show?
Elliott L – A production company in Germany approached me and organized about five exhibitions for me in Europe last year during the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.
Mike G – How did you decide on the venue, and how did you convince them to let you put photos of such well-known heathens as Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia up on their walls?
Elliott L – One of their contacts was a concert producer in Nuremberg, and he knew of this church, which rented its premises for exhibitions. It is a fully-functioning church. The pastor – I think that is what he would be called – is a very liberal person. He even agreed to have some body painting going on. He is very deeply spiritual in the true sense of the term—not tied to dogma, but to the essence of spirituality, which is to help people know how to have a better life. He felt that the message of “Woodstock” —peace and love and sharing and caring and freedom and the exploration of alternative ways of perception through marijuana at that time – remains an important message to communicate to future generations.
This church, its supporters and board, and the pastor felt that most people in the world are the heathens who need to be taught the lessons of spirituality which Woodstock embodied. The design of the exhibition was done by a private company hired by the producers of the exhibitions.
Mike G – How were the attendance and sales figures for the show, and were you pleased with these numbers?
Elliott L – It was a very well-attended show. We were renting the space and earning money from entry fees and merchandise sales. In the end, though, I did not earn a penny from it as it was such costly production – it used up all the income! The producers tried to extend it for two more months, but the church had already booked another exhibition. Had we been able to extend it for two more months, we would have made money but, for me, it was the nicest presentation of my photographs I have ever had and truly appropriate for the subject matter. The Sixties music scene was a spiritual moment for us all.
Mike G – About those mural-sized images – how were they made to your satisfaction and what did you do with those after the show? Are you planning other similar shows?
Elliott L – The producers had them printed in a lab in Germany – it may have been be one which I pointed them to. I had no oversight of the printing. However, I have found that German photo-printing craftsmanship is really excellent and I had no worries that they might be badly done. We had had some experience with them before in reproducing my images, and they always came out well. A German publisher, Zweitausendeins, released a German edition of my book, Woodstock Vision, The Spirit of a Generation and they used my original files and, I must admit, the printing was better than the original USA edition, so I have faith in German reproduction for normal photographs. Had they been my impressionist flowers or colorized images, which involve a lot of choice of colors, I would have certainly intervened.
I do not know what has happened to the original large prints. I assume my producers have them in storage, along with the 166 prints that were on display, and they are currently looking for other venues to show them in. I also included some of my music films that I made from animating my still photos in the exhibition. This was done with my app – “LandyVison” – which is not yet released.
Here’s a link to a five-minute video tour of the show staged in St. Egidien’s church – https://vimeo.com/356277938 I think you’ll enjoy the journey, and it will prep you for participation in Elliott’s book project, featured in a story to follow.
Artist News and Interviews –
Stay tuned for more…
Items for Sale and/or at Auction –
As you might imagine, shopping from home is being encouraged these days, so several galleries are working hard to earn your business (even though you can’t patronize these establishments in person) and other noted producers of rock art/imagery are tantalizing us with new books and merch as well…
UP TO HALF OFF AT SFAE) There’s a grand sale going on at the San Francisco Art Exchange, with the gallery offering 50% off on a selection of prints from artists/photographers including Ronnie Wood, Hatami, Hipgnosis/Storm Thorgerson, Klauss Voorman, Michael Cooper and many others (with most other art priced at 20% off regular retail) –
As a bonus, the folks at Goldmine Magazine also posted a podcast featuring an interview with SFAE partner Jim Hartley and famed artist/illustrator Gerald Scarfe, who turned to SFAE to help him do some spring cleaning in his studio (by selling a lot of his production artwork/elements used for Pink Floyd’s The Wall album cover and film).
UPDATE ON PROGRESS) Back in 2014-2015, photographer Elliott Landy staged a very successful Kickstarter program to fund the production of a book (The Band Photographs, 1968-1969) of his renowned shots of The Band (and friends) taken in the late 1960s. Mr. Landy’s archive on the topic is a deep one (thousands of photos), so earlier this year, he launched a new Kickstarter program so fans/collectors can now see and own more carefully-curated images from his archive in a new book he’s calling Contacting The Band – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebandbook2/elliott-landy-contacting-the-band?
As of press time (there are eight days left), he’s received about 50% of the funds needed to bring this project to life. Like the last time, backers are being given the opportunity to purchase one or more copies of several editions of this new book, with supporters at higher levels offered the chance to own one of several prints, including specially-produced ones of the contact sheets from which photos were selected for use in the packages for The Band and Music From Big Pink. Pledge levels begin at $10, with an $85 pledge getting you a signed copy of the book (and a nice “Thank You” card). Pledges of $185 or more include prints and, if you’re wanting to buy yourself something really special, a pledge of $7500 (Level 17) gets you a prize package that includes lunch for up to four people with Elliott at his home in Woodstock, NY, as well as a tour of his studio, a look into his archives, and a brief drive down the road to Big Pink. You’d also get 2 x Deluxe Edition Contacting the Band books, one Signature Edition of his previous book THE BAND PHOTOGRAPHS. 1968-1969 and two signed 18 x 24 inch fine art pigment prints from Landy’s online store (or those included in the new offer). Once again, the project will be funded if he hits his goal by April 8th, 2020 (with delivery slated for November, 2020), so please visit his page, make your selection and help get this fine new book into production.
NEW PRINTS FROM TOP ARTISTS) Le Nouvel Opera Gallery in France has several new prints in stock that album art fans will appreciate. The first is a high-quality inkjet fine art print of artist/illustrator James Marsh’s quite-kissable cover image for Talk Talk’s 1982 debut album The Party’s Over, available now in an edition of 100 signed/numbered copies on sale for 420€. Next up is a limited-edition inkjet print (one of 60 copies) of the “sheep in psychoanalysis” artwork the talented team of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell produced for the retail packaging in the U.S. for 10cc’s 1980 record album Look Hear?, which is also known by the title “Are You Normal” – the text featured on the record’s U.K. cover (with our friend the sheep featured on the inside). Copies signed by Mr. Powell are available for 900€. Lastly (but not leastly) is a new print from noted album cover artist Terry Pastor (of Bowie/Ziggy/Hunky Dory fame), who has created a new homage to early rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, the Sun Records label he was found on and 1950’s graphic style overall called “High School Confidential”. You can own one of the 50 inkjet fine art prints, signed/numbered by Mr. Pastor, for only 350 €, and you can see these and the many other prints now available to collectors world-wide on the gallery’s web site at https://www.lenouvelopera.fr/
NEW KISS MERCH) KISS and Marvel Comics have teamed up on a new line of merch that’s getting a lot of attention in the press – https://www.altpress.com/news/marvel-kiss-collab-merch-line/
The band has enjoyed long-standing relationships with a number of comic book publishers and licensing companies, with their first appearance in a comic taking place in the late 1970s in Marvel’s Howard the Duck #12. In 1977, the band was given the full-bore comic book hero treatment, with band members saving the world in a book titled A Marvel Comics Super Special: KISS. While the band has since stated that they are – except for Gene Simmons – not fans of the genre, so dedicated was the band to the uniqueness of this particular comic book treatment that they each donated blood to the project, which was added to the red ink used to print the book.
While I can’t say whether there are blood or tissue samples included in the make-up of these new items being released by Marvel and the “billion dollar band”, I’m sure that you’ll soon be seeing them being worn proudly by fans at some point in the near future (once we’re allowed back outside, that is).
There’s a fascinating new David Bowie print from photographer Lynn Goldsmith that’s now available thru the Brian Liss Gallery in Toronto. Titled David Bowie – Hero – Lynn has created a new image crafted from a number of shots from her portfolio that, according to Ms. Goldsmith, “reflects a truth, not a reality.” Lynn goes on, stating that she “felt David Bowie’s artistry causes us to consider how our lives fit into the grand scheme of existence for all eternity. These photographs reflect my response to who I think he is, who I want him to be, as well as how I believe others view this artist who constantly changed and sought to show the reality around us is made up of a reality that may not, in fact, be real…Everything about Bowie said something as to how each of us is intricately connected to the larger universe. He reminded us that thinking the physical world is all that matters is like living in one small room and believing there is nothing outside of it. He opened us to the powers of imagination.”
Fans can add this powerful image to their collections by selecting the limited-edition print in one of two sizes (framed) – the 16” x 20” version is priced at $2500.00 USD, while the larger (20” x 24”) version is priced at $3500.00 USD – and you can find this and many other of Ms. Goldsmith’s photo prints on the gallery’s site at https://liss-gallery.squarespace.com/lynn-goldsmith Lynn’s scheduled to be at the gallery for a special appearance in late May – please check with the gallery (which is currently closed to the public) on the status of that event.
Miscellaneous Items –
ALBUM ART INSPIRATION) What’s that on the cover of The Bends by Radiohead? For their 1995 sophomore record release, Thom Yorke and Co. collaborate with artist (and fellow University of Exeter alumnus and ACHOF Inductee) Dan Rickwood (AKA Stanley Donwood) to create an appropriate image that’d represent how they wanted to “resuscitate” the direction of the band’s music, with a visit to a hospital’s iron lung training room providing the spark for the album’s unsettling sleeve artwork.
Read more in this article on the Radio X (UK) web site: https://www.radiox.co.uk/artists/radiohead/whats-on-the-cover-of-the-bends-by-radiohead/
AUTOMATING ALBUM ART) Last month, I received an alert in my web site admin tools that indicated that another site had linked in to one of my site’s articles. While I encourage that sharing of content, I wasn’t familiar with that particular site (on the surface, it seemed to be a site that offered AI-driven album cover design services) and so I reached out to its admin via the site’s contact page to see who he/she was and what it is that they do (or are trying to do) in the world of album cover art? Do they produce album art themselves, or have they developed some sort of automated system that lets others make their own, or ??
Several days later, I heard back from Samuel Morgan, an artist from Bath, UK who, according to Sam, because he was exhausted having to produce original album artwork piece after piece, “created an automated system to generate the artwork in album/vinyl sizes in the medium of Digital Collage. Currently, it can create it as quick as 1 piece every minute.” Not content with just automating the production processes, Sam extended the state of automation on his site to run the entire thing, managing listings, Social Media/SEO, purchasing, etc.. The site has been running this way for a year now, so while Sam has moved on to other projects, it was intriguing to see how tech-savvy young designer/programmers use their smarts to help musicians create eye-catching art for their retail packaging. You can take a look at some of the work he’s produced on his web site at https://automated-art.co.uk/ (or start a project at https://automated-art.co.uk/shop/).
That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for timely news alerts on our news feed –https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back when we can with another monthly summary for you.
Unless otherwise noted, all text and images included in this article are Copyright 2020 Mike Goldstein and AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.