Posted January 14th, 2022, with an update posted January 18th, 2022
Highlights from the original exhibition curated by Jules Seamer, with text edited/updated by the Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Mike Goldstein
#1 in the Art on My Sleeves series – All Nerve: Album Cover Graphic Design – In addition to the musical and business aspirations that have inspired individuals and record labels to produce packaged music products for sale to fans worldwide, the album cover art projects associated with these records have benefitted over the years from the talents of the people who’ve worked on them, the tools they had available to create “just the right” cover image and the dynamics of what constituted “Popular Culture” at the time they were created.
The use of Graphic Design – or “Commercial Art”, as it was once called – on album covers was brought about due to the successful efforts of several early pioneers, the most notable being commercial artists including Alex Steinweiss who, in 1938, became the first art director for Columbia Records and, in 1940, Introduced first individually-designed record cover (Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart) and went on to pioneer cardboard sleeve-based packaging for 33-1/3 RPM LPs in 1948. He was joined at Columbia by Jim Flora and Robert M. “Bob” Jones in the mid-1940s (followed by Saul Bass, S. Neil Fujita and Bob Cato) while, over at the jazz labels Verve, Blue Note and others, talented artists including David Stone Martin, Reid Miles and Andy Warhol produced covers that brought them fame thanks to their iconic design work. Whether helping to shape the vision of a label, as Barney Bubbles did at Stiff, Vaughan Oliver did at 4AD or Peter Saville crafted for Factory or establishing a style that became synonymous with the bands they had as clients (like Hipgnosis for Pink Floyd orJamieReid for the Sex Pistols), album cover graphic designers were deservedly hailed for creating mini-masterpieces that made an art form out of the album cover.
Holiday Gift Suggestions for the Album Cover/Vinyl Record Lovers in your Life
Works offered for sale by (above, left to right) – Snap Galleries, UK, Vinylux and KnuckleBonz
As suggested by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Well, it’s been five years since I published the first of what were supposed to be annual overviews of “artistical” things that, in my opinion, might make nice gifts for anyone who is a fan of album cover art and packaging. Of course, I could come up with several excuses as to why I’ve back-burnered this until now – my book project, my move from Portland to Chicago or my heavy drinking since November, 2016 – but suffice it to say that it wasn’t because I didn’t want to provide this information to you. So, if you’ll accept my apology, let me continue with what I hope is some valuable information in this update.
As I’m sure you all know, getting just the right gift for your loved ones at Holiday time can be such a puzzle – what with all of the advertising that bombards you from every direction and “Black Friday” now beginning sometime in mid-late July – that you’re left with little time and inclination to search for just the right thing when all you want to do is “get this over with”…
And, while I’ve been told never to buy “art” for others, because of the link between music and art, buying a gift for lovers of album cover art has never been so simple. As you’ll see by the list of companies that specialize in album cover-related items of all types (and fitting all budgets), with a little research (“Hey Honey, who’s your all-time favorite band?”) and perhaps a phone call or two, I’m feeling pretty confident that you’ll be able to locate and secure a gift that will be long-appreciated by its recipient. Who knows, maybe it will start a tradition in your family!
Posted onMarch 31, 2017|Comments Off on Excerpts from Pierre et Gilles feature by Andrew Dineley for Classic Pop
Issue 28 – Classic Pop Magazine with Pierre et Gilles feature by Andrew Dineley
Added by Mike Goldstein on March 31, 2017
In my ongoing effort to support album cover art fans wherever they may be, it’s been my recent pleasure to introduce you to the writing talents of Andrew Dineley, the Liverpool, UK-based proprietor of the SoftOctopus Design studio and regular contributor of album art-and-artist-related articles to the popular Classic Pop magazine and web site. As hard as I try to locate and promote the talents of people working in the album cover art space, I know that, due to my being located in middle-America, USA, I’m not always able to discover work done by people working for clients in other countries, so it was with great joy that I received Andrew’s friend request and link to a video he recently put together that showcases some of his latest contributions to the magazine – https://vimeo.com/205032038 and, if you’d like to see more of his own commercial work, check out his firm’s web site at http://www.softoctopus.co.uk/
Andrew was also kind enough to share some excerpts from a feature on the talented French design team of Pierre et Gilles he wrote and published recently in issue #28 of the U.K.’s Classic Pop magazine. Partners in work and in life for over 40 years, the duo has collaborated – and partied hard with – celebrities and those looking to the pair to create memorable images that might launch them into celebrityhood. Along the way, they’ve used their talents in painting (Gilles Blanchard) and photography (Pierre Commoy) to produce unique covers for records by artists including Erasure, The Creatures and Marilyn Manson as well as French acts such as Mathmatiques Moderne and Amanda Lear, so I hope that you enjoy this tidbit and will turn to the magazine soon for the full meal.
New Resource Article – Album Cover Credits Information for the Top-Selling Albums of All Time
Top 5 Best Selling Albums of All Time (L to R) – Thriller (Michael Jackson), Eagles:Their Greatest Hits (Eagles), Greatest Hits Volume 1 & Volume 2 (Billy Joel), The Wall (Pink Floyd) and Led Zeppelin IV (Led Zeppelin)
By Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Since the 1960s, there have been 27 record albums in the U.S. that have sold 15 million copies or more. Considering the number of times that the album cover images have been printed, I’m assuming that the artists that produced these images have to be among the most-popular in modern history, if “popularity” is measured in terms of the number of copies of an image that have been purchased as part of a package or alone on related merchandise.
With that being said, wouldn’t it make sense that the designers, illustrators, photographers and art directors that worked on the images that have been purchased and seen hundreds of millions of times by music fans all over the world would themselves be world-famous? It turns out that, despite the popularity of their works, many remain unrecognized outside the core music business, so it is my hope that this new article – in which I’ll introduce you to the people – the Designers, Illustrators, Photographers and Art Directors who are credited for each cover – helps raise their visibility and allows readers to get to know some of them a bit better and begin an appreciation of what they’ve added to the worlds of Pop Culture and Modern Art.
As suggested by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Getting just the right gift for your loved ones at Holiday time can be such a puzzle, what with all of the advertising that bombards you from every direction, leaving you with little time and inclination to search for just the right thing when all you want to do is “get this over with”…
And, while I’ve been told never to buy “art” for others, because of the link between music and art, buying a gift for lovers of album cover art has never been so simple. As you’ll see by the list of companies that specialize in album cover-related items of all types (and fitting all budgets), with a little research (“Hey Honey, who’s your all-time favorite band?”) and perhaps a phone call or two, I’m feeling pretty confident that you’ll be able to locate and secure a gift that will be long-appreciated by it’s recipient. Who knows, maybe it will start a tradition in your family!
Enjoy the hunt (and seeing the smiles of gratitude from your Honey, too).
Posted onMarch 15, 2013|Comments Off on Musicians Who Also Designed Album Covers – A List for Fans of Music and Art
Musicians that also design Album Covers – A Comprehensive List for Fans of Music and Art
by Mike Goldstein, curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
originally posted March 15, 2013
There are many examples of musical artists who are also accomplished visual artists, displaying great talent in the fields of painting, illustration, photography, sculpture and product design. Scholars of rock musicians know that a number of well-known musical acts were founded by art students that met each other while attending art school. Examples include Pink Floyd (Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright all went to London’s Polytechnic College on Regent Street, while Syd Barrett studied at Camberwell), Talking Heads (David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz all attended the Rhode Island School of Design), Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale studied at Kent State) and The Clash (Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones). Other well-known musicians who studied art include Queen’s Freddie Mercury (who attended both Isleworth Polytechnic and Ealing College and who went on to design the famous “Queen Crest”), Eric Clapton (Kingston College of Art), Pete Townshend (another Ealing alumnus), Brian Eno (Winchester Art School), R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (a U. of Georgia art major), Ray Davies of The Kinks (Hornsey College of Art in London ), Keith Richards (London’s Sidcup Art College) and Ron Wood (Ealing again) of The Rolling Stones and John Lennon (Liverpool College of Art). After studying art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under the tutelage of Richard Hamilton, Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry had a career as high school art instructor – specializing in ceramics and pottery – prior to forming the band in late 1970.
Whatever their motivations (Mick Jones of The Clash is quoted as saying that, although he felt that he had no real artistic talent, he went to art school to form a band as many of his musical influences – Lennon, Richards, Townshend, etc. – had gone to art school and then formed bands soon after), it is clear that right-brained, multi-talented individuals seem to have had an important influence on the development of both the aural and visual aspects of the pop music business.
Posted onMarch 1, 2013|Comments Off on Interview with Jason Draper about his book A Brief History of Album Covers
Interview with author Jason Draper on his book – A Brief History of Album Covers
A Brief History of Album Covers by Jason Draper
As I continue on with the efforts to make the AlbumCoverHallofFame.com site a most-comprehensive offering, the amount of time I spend doing research is truly amazing. Never did I imagine the amount of digging I’d need to do in order to find out more about the people who’ve created everyone’s’ favorite album covers, separate the fact from the fiction, and then present the results in a hopefully-enjoyable fashion to the fans of album cover design that come visit from time to time.
Along the way, I’ve come to rely on general information sites such as Wikipedia, music-oriented databases like the ones underlying ArtistDirect and AllMusic and many, many specialty sites, from those of professional organizations such as the AIGA and the Recording Academy to the sites hosted by both the designers/artists/photographers themselves and those run by their fans and admirers. I’ve also turned to a number of books that I’ve added to my personal reference library over the years, most of which I’ve listed on my reference page on the topic. Recently, I came across a book – published in the U.K. in 2008 – that I hadn’t seen before and through the miracle of Amazon.com, found a copy that I purchased to enhance my collection (always a collector, right?). Recognizing the name of the author as a journalist and editor working for one of my favorite music magazines (Record Collector), I thought that I’d reach out to him to find out more about him, his own love of album cover art and “the making of” this book.
Posted onJanuary 18, 2013|Comments Off on Interview with author Matthew Chojnacki about his book Put The Needle On The Record
Interview with author Matthew Chojnacki about his book Put The Needle On The Record by Michael Goldstein – January, 2013
Put The Needle On The Record by Matthew Chojnacki
Greetings from your Curator. I was introduced to Matthew and his book late in 2012 via a mutual friend, Fritz at the AlbumArtExchange.com web site. While I tend to cover more of the historical aspects of album cover art, design and photography, Fritz presents new album cover artwork every day, presenting info and commentary on both the artwork and how it reflects on today’s best (or worst) efforts in the field, but it only makes sense that we’re both interested in, and passionate about, the stories and the people behind the work, so his introduction of Matthew and his book was bound to tweak my interest to find out more about him and the inspirations behind his writing it.
When it was released in September, 2011, Put The Needle On The Record was the immediate recipient of much critical praise, ending up on many a “Best Of” list of 2011’s most-important books about music, art and Pop Culture. Containing info on hundreds of record sleeves and interviews with a wide range of people involved in the creation of these works – from Annie Lennox to Gary Numan to Yoko Ono – and with a foreword by Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters and an afterword by Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, this book has been awarded with a whole host of prestigious book awards, including those from the New York Book Festival, London Book Festival, Paris Book Festival, San Francisco Book Festival and many, many others.
As I child of the 1960’s who has deep-seated feelings about the influences – both good and bad – that the 1980’s had on music, art and Pop Culture, I thought that, in an effort to expand my understanding of this era (and, perhaps, appreciate it a bit more), it would be important to take in the views of someone who grew up during those times and could present a more open-minded overview of the period to both me and my readers, so it is with this hope to build an inter-generational bridge that I posed these questions to our distinguished interviewee….
Posted onJanuary 8, 2013|Comments Off on Awesome Album Covers – UFO’s Mechanix
Intro to “Awesome Album Covers – UFO’s Mechanix”, by Michael Verity
UFO Mechanix album cover, by John Pasche
When I saw this story, I knew that it would have to be one that would have to be featured on our site as it focuses on, at least for your friend The Curator (that’s me!), two important main characters:
1) The rock band UFO – an under-appreciated (at least, here in the U.S.) ensemble that created some of the best-loved tunes of my early adulthood (Phil Mogg certainly knew how to write songs with a catchy chorus, and I’m certain that I wore through more than one copy of Lights Out in my college dorm room), and
2) The graphic designer John Pasche – a talented UK-based graphic artist, one of the principals in the ongoing saga of “just who really did design the Lips and Tongue logo for the Rolling Stones” and, for me as a writer, one of the first people kind enough to work with me on an interview about album cover art.
The album met with a fair amount of success in the UK, hitting #8 on the album charts, driven by the popularity of three singles – “Back Into My Life”, “The Writer” and “Let It Rain”. In the US, it rose to #82 on the Billboard album charts, with “Back Into My Life” getting some airplay. The band toured, with original bassist Pete Way leaving immediately thereafter. A slightly-reconstituted UFO released one more record (Making Contact) in 1983 and then split to pursue other opportunities, getting back together at various times, in various configurations over the past 25+ years to record and tour.
Mechanix was re-issued in 2009 with enhanced album packaging, including photos by Ross Halfin and illustrations by David Juniper.