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.
ACHOF Featured Fan Portfolio – A Tour Through Collector Richard Forrest’s Favorite Album Covers
In an article published in the October 12, 2017 issue of Psychology Today, Dr. Matthew J. Edlund relates a story about a patient who’d come to him suffering from, as he described it, “art collecting induced insomnia…He could not stop thinking about modern and contemporary prints, what he possessed and more possessively what he further wished to have. A universe of potential desire awaited him each night. The prices, places, avenues of acquisition, bidding strategies, and the potential profits all negated the calm and comfort of his night-time life. ‘Is my art collecting healthy?’ he wondered.” Dr. Edlund suggests that his patient buy a book about the artist who produced a desired print in order to learn more about him/her and their motivations, allowing the collector to “connect with ideas larger than oneself”, which seems to have allowed this patient to rest more easily. After reading this article, all I could think of was that I’d simply start collecting books about artists – wait, I’ve already done that!
Suffice it to say, collectors are a funny bunch, and while I admit to suffering from this condition myself (although, I must say, it’s somewhat in remission these days, now that I’ve nowhere to store anything else), rather than live in a situation where there’s always one – or dozens – more things to add to a collection, it was intriguing to have found someone – a collector living in Sweden by the name of Dr. Richard Forrest – who approaches collecting in a way that enables him to both attain a goal and also feel some sense of achievement via his efforts. Some of you might recall that I’ve been corresponding with Dr. Forrest – also known as the “Rockdoc” – for many months now after discovering a blog he maintains (https://recordart.net/) in which he talks about his collections, one of which – his collection of all of the album covers ever created by Pop Art icon Andy Warhol – that serves as an important section of a museum on the artist that’s on display (thru September 8th) at the Moderna Museet in Malmo, Sweden.
Now that I live in a city that has a long history of design innovation, it’s a challenge not to be pulled in a million different directions when I hear about exhibitions being staged at the various venues found here. To manage that, I have several alerts set that inform me of anything album art-related that might be on display, but I have to admit that I came to learn about the local staging of a travelling show that’s been drawing crowds for the past two years a bit late (i.e., just a few days before its launch) and it was only due to the attentiveness of the venue’s media person that I was able to learn more and then tour the show right after its launch late last month. People before computers, I always say…
ACHOF Exhibition Tour – Tailored Jackets: Second Fitting
An exhibition of album covers on display at Oklahoma City College’s Inasmuch Foundation Gallery, with details provided by the show’s organizer, Scott A. Tigert, Cultural Programs Assistant.
A follow-up to the firstTailored Jackets show, which was on display in the college’s gallery – part of the school’s Visual & Performing Arts Center – from September 10 through October 31, 2014 (and which included 55 autographed albums, including examples from Patti Smith, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel and many others), Tailored Jackets: Second Fitting taps the same collector’s expansive private collection of autographed album covers to bring 59 of them to the gallery’s appreciative audience.
As it is that we here at the ACHOF are always thrilled when a museum or education institution works to present album cover art to an all-ages audience – particularly, those younger viewers who may only know album art in a 12″ square format from digging through their parents’ record collections – I contacted Scott to ask him to give me more information on how the show came about and whether he could provide us with more details and views of the show in its current form. He was happy to reply and, for your enjoyment, here are the anecdotes he provided, along with some additional photos of the exhibit, which is on display until March 27th, 2015. Continue reading →
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Featured Fan Portfolio – Robert Garzillo, Curator of the “Jackets Required: 40 Years of Album Cover Design” exhibition on display at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Fleet Library from Jan. 7 through Mar. 27th, 2o15
(intro by Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com)
Earlier in February, I reported on a new show on display at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Fleet Library that I felt would be of great interest to fans of great design and, more specifically, great album cover design. As I described in my article, the show, titled “Jackets Required: 40 Years of Album Cover Design” was organized by librarian (and accomplished record collector) Robert Garzillo and includes 100 covers of records that were released during the years 1940 – 1980 featuring the work of many ACHOF “Early Influencers”, including Alex Steinweiss, Saul Bass, Jim Flora, Josef Albers, Andy Warhol and others. The covers represent music released in a number of different genres and give the viewer a good sense of how album art both reflected the designs of the times and also helped take record packaging in new directions.
Featured Fan Portfolio – writer/photographer David Hamsley’s Favorite Gatefold Covers
(intro by Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com)
Earlier this year, I received an email from a photographer and author named David Hamsley. He was looking to track down an artist that he thought I might know in order to talk to him about including an example of his work in a book that David was working on. After talking a bit more about his project, we agreed to stay in touch, but after thinking about it a bit (and about his talents and background and what he shared with me about his current work), I pitched the idea to him that he should consider working with me on an article that I’d feature in the ACHOF’s “Featured Album Cover Fan Collections” section – something that would allow him to share his knowledge about – and passion for – album cover imagery.
Spring ahead a few months and I received another note from David, this time telling me that his project – a comprehensive book about Disco-era record art – was nearly complete and that he’d be open to working with me on the article I’d proposed. Rather than focus on Disco covers, though, he suggested that we work on presenting a collection of images in another segment of album art production that, since the rise of the CD and other digital music delivery mechanisms, has been pushed to the back burners of music packaging history – i.e., “gatefold” covers.
Intrigued with the notion, I asked David why this particular segment in the chronicling of album cover art was of interest to him, to which he replied that “gatefolds were a natural stretch of the boundaries for designers to have experimented with, especially as album art evolved into something that was more like a packaging “event” that included postcards, booklets, posters, etc. When thinking about putting this together for you, I decided a spotlight on gatefolds in particular would be another thread that weaves a disparate group of images together”. After looking at the records he proposed that we would include, I agreed that this would be a great opportunity to show what talented cover art producers could do when given a much-larger-than-normal canvas to work on and so, for your pleasure and education, here are David’s selections, along with both the results of his research into each cover image and his own anecdotes about what made each so compelling and memorable.
Featured Album Cover Fan Collection – Gary Freiberg, Rock Art Picture Show
Interviewed by Mike Goldstein, Curator, Album Cover Hall of Fame
May 2, 2014
This album cover fan collection is going to be a bit different than most of the articles in this series, mainly due to the fact that the featured participant, Gary J. Freiberg, has a unique history in the field. Gary wears a number of different record cover-related hats – he’s a vinyl preservationist, an organizer of vinyl record-related events (including Vinyl Record Day, celebrated each August 12 and now in its 13th year) and the co-inventor of the very popular Rock Art Picture Show Record Album Frame. I met Gary when I had my gallery and, based on his encyclopedic knowledge of all things album cover, I knew that he’d be an important addition to the Voting Panel of the ACHOF, which he’s been a part of since our inception in 2012.
The mission statement of the Vinyl Record Day organization – a non-profit, 501(C)3 established in 2002 – focuses on three important aspects related to the appreciation of recorded music: 1) Establishing a day, nationally-recognized, for music fans of all types to enjoy their favorite music; 2) maintaining the value, presence and growth of the vinyl record medium and 3) “Preservation of the cultural influences, the recordings and the cover art of vinyl records” and the people who produce them. With that in mind, when I asked Gary to give us a glimpse into his own collection, he suggested that, since preservation was an important aspect of his work and passion for music, it might make more sense for him to highlight some of the actual album covers (vs. art prints) he’s collected and appreciated that were created by “the father of Album Cover Art” – Alex Steinweiss. As he put it, he’s a student of the evolution of the art form, starting with Steinweiss and his covers for Columbia Records in the late 1930s (and his invention of cardboard sleeve-based packaging in 1948), and so he thought that it was important to focus our attention of the talents of the person most-credited with adding an entire new visual dimension to the promotion of recorded music. How can I argue with a premise like that?
Featured Album Cover Fan Collection – Conrad Swartz, about his covers for The Insanitizers
by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
April 3, 2014
(The Insanitizers – Whimsical Surf CD cover)
Some of you may recall an article I’d written a couple of months back about Pozzie Mazerati’s “Red Arrow” campaign, which came about as a result of a posting I had done on the Musicpage.com web site looking to feature the personal album cover art collections of folks in the music business. I thought that it’d be interesting for my readers to learn more about how musical acts use album cover art to help promote their music and their “brands”, and so when I received a note from Conrad Swartz about the sources for the artwork he used on the covers of his own recordings (as part of a surf guitar band named “The Insanitizers”), I thought that I’d once again expand the definition of what I was looking to include in this site’s “Featured Fan Collections” section to show you the works Conrad used to create the eye-catching covers for his albums.
Since one of our stated goals here at the Album Cover Hall of Fame is to provide music art fans interesting and inspiring stories about album artists, album cover art and the roles that design and image-making have in the marketing and packaging of music today, I think that you’ll agree that Conrad’s covers are great examples of one artist being moved by the creativity of others. I asked Mr. Swartz to give us some of the specifics about each work of art that is featured on his covers and so, in his words, here are the details:
Featured Album Cover Fan Collection – highlights from the collection of film-maker Eric Christensen
by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
March 28, 2014
In the intro for the ACHOF’s Featured Fan Collection section, I recounted my personal motivations for assembling a collection of album cover art prints and noted that I figured that there were others like me who’d followed a similar path – I would just have to find them! Well, luckily for me, I have found a kindred soul in Eric Christensen, the subject of today’s feature. While Eric did get a jump on me – beginning his career in the music business in the 1960s – it’s fascinating to see the similarities in how we both grew, in many cases, to appreciate the visual aspects of the record business as much as the music. What’s impressive about Eric and his collections are their sheer size and the degree to which he has incorporated his love of albums and their packaging into many aspects of his career over the years.
Eric’s long history in the music business began with jobs in rock and roll radio, where he worked in the San Francisco Bay area with record and concert producer Tom Donahue, allowing him to have amazing access to the bands that toured through the area at the time, including The Beatles, The Byrds, The Supremes and many other notables. He continued to work in radio until the early 1970s, after which he branched out into the film-making and television programming business, producing films and TV specials based on concert events, tours and major sporting events. Retiring in the mid-2000’s from a 30+ year career in network TV, Eric began a new phase in his career as an independent film maker and, as is clear from the subjects of his efforts since then – the 1966 Trips Festival (often considered the ultimate 60’s counter-culture event) in a film released in 2007 (and still featured in festivals to this day) and his subsequent film efforts, described below – his focus on highlighting and educating the viewers of his work about the importance of music and art in popular culture remains unchecked (his complete bio is included at the end of this article).
I’d first contacted Eric early in 2013 after reading about the release of a documentary film he’d produced and directed called The Cover Story – Album Art. While album cover art and artists have been the subject of a wide range of books, articles and exhibitions, there have only been a smattering of films or videos dedicated to the subject and, as ACHOF curator, it was my sworn duty to find out more about the film and its creator. Well, as they say, “timing is everything” and both Eric and I found ourselves busy and unable to catch up with each other until early this year, right after I saw the illustrated article he’d written that you’ll find in Juxtapoz Magazine‘s “Psychedelic 60s” issue (March 2014) about “the Big Five” of San Francisco’s psychedelic art scene – artists Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, and Wes Wilson.
In today’s Featured Fan Collection, we’re going to take a look at selections from the personal collection of Ed Boyd, CEO of Tymphany, maker of high-quality loudspeaker components and systems and long-time admirer and collector of album cover/rock music art. Ed’s been in the consumer electronics business for 25 years, helping clients including Beats, Bowers and Wilkens (AKA to audiophiles as “B&W”) and Bang & Olufsen make beautiful music via their use of his company’s components and audio design expertise. Tymphany has been a designer and manufacturer of high end audio products for over 10 years, “supporting companies globally to offer consumers the best in premium audio products”.
I met Ed via my (now-closed) RockPoP Gallery site and, I have to say, I was impressed with his desire to build a great collection of his favorite images and his willingness to search all over the world to find the galleries and self-publishing artists who might sell the prints he was interested in. While many folks in the music arena will decorate their offices and studios with gold record presentations and photos of themselves with other musical luminaries, Ed truly seemed interested in the art of the album cover, both from the standpoints of the creativity of the designs and the quality of the productions and the impact the image had on his own love of all things music. Remembering this, I knew that I had to try and convince him to share some of his collection with us and, as you’ll see, he’s been kind enough to share photos of some of his favorites along with the reasons why they mean so much to him. And so, let’s let Ed take us on a personal tour…