Often considered Minneapolis' best totally unknown design super team, Aesthetic Apparatus was founded around 1999 in Madison, Wisconsin by Dan Ibarra and Michael Byzewski as a fun side project from their "real" jobs. Over the years their limited edition screen printed concert posters have secretly snuck into the hearts and minds of a small, rather silent group of socially awkward music and design nerds. Now, Aesthetic Apparatus is a full time, full-fledged, insanely unstoppable, and occasionally award-winning design mega-studio. They will break your heart and drink your blood.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Janis Joplin - Cheap Thrills (1968)
This is probably one of my favorite covers from my distant teenage years. R. Crumb created the cover illustration as a favor to his friend Joplin. The Rolling Stones asked him to do the same for them, but he refused because he hated their music.
Monday, August 18, 2008
"You are creating a sleeve that you want to be as iconic as possible.... It's got to work when it's a thumbnail on Amazon, it's got to work on the shelves at Tesco, and on the racks at HMV.
With bands being able to sell music online, it frees designers from the constraints of retailers. For years, designers have had to work within the constraints of retailers like Tesco, HMV and Virgin. They dictated the packaging, the dual case CD, because of the racking that was designed specifically to stock dual cases. Years ago, if we proposed an alternative format, it was always knocked back because retailers wouldn't stock it.
But now what is fantastic is that we see bands selling music online, where they can sell either a digital download or offer the option... to buy a special packaging version of the product, that can be mailed to them, that can be any shape, any size and any format."
Tom Hingston, of Tom Hingston Studio, has designed covers for the Rolling Stones, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Gnarls Barkley and others.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I just put this book on my wish list.
The album cover is a subject of perennial interest among graphic designers. Sleeve design remains a popular subject for college projects, and many young working designers aspire to design for the music industry. Revealing state-of-the-art contemporary music graphics, Cover Art By: is packed with more than 400 examples of sleeve art. As well as CD and album covers, the insides of CD booklets and the backs of vinyl sleeves are shown.
The book opens with an in-depth essay reviewing the current scene, then focuses on the work of 30 international designers/labels who are the most influential in the field, making this a must-have for designers and students, as well as music industry professionals and fans.
About the Author
Adrian Shaughnessy is a self-taught graphic designer, writer, and editor. Until recently he was creative director of Intro, the London-based music design company he co-founded in 1989. He left Intro in 2004 to pursue an interest in writing and consultancy. His previous books include the Sampler series; How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul; and Look at This: Contemporary Brochures, Catalogues & Documents (all Laurence King).
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Second Supper recently conducted an interview with SCORPIONS guitarist Rudolf Schenker. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow.
Second Supper: On your past albums, the SCORPIONS have drawn controversy for cover art such as "Virgin Killer". Do you believe such art would be acceptable on new albums today? How have artistic standards in rock changed since you started out?
Schenker: "'Virgin Killer' was an idea of the record company. The company guy came up and said, 'Even if I have to go to jail, I will do it.' As a German band, the journalists never went through the lyrics. We came up with 'Virgin Killer', and had the song, and the album cover, and the journalists said we can't do that. We told them to go to the album and listen to the lyrics. The 'Virgin Killer' is time. We wouldn't do that today. It's too far away from what the SCORPIONS are. What we liked very much was album sleeves like 'Lovedrive', which was pure rock 'n' roll. Also, the days of vinyl with the big album sleeve was the time when you could really see this piece of art on the cover. With the sales of CDs going down and people downloading, this part of what we had is gone. Today people don't want to listen to the whole album anymore."
Second Supper: Are artists tied down by this lack of emphasis on albums?
Schenker: "Of course. It's not so deep anymore. The record companies don't have the money to support bands that make experiments. You go to a record company, you have to have a hit with the first album, or you can go. There is no chance to build up a band like PINK FLOYD or GENESIS or LED ZEPPELIN. So they're not thinking too deeply. It's not good, but maybe times will change again."
Second Supper: The SCORPIONS have certainly been a career-building band. What's next in your career?
Schenker: "We're still watching the world. We want to be a part of this revolution. By traveling around the world we can see things coming up, warning us, and trying to put it into music. We're still on the road with 'Humanity Hour 1', and then we'll see what we'll do recording-wise. It's more important that we go on tour — more important than it was 20 years ago. We can see how much young kids enjoy live concerts. You can't download [the experience of] live concerts. We have a great chemistry and friendship in the band, and when we have an idea we put it on tape and bring out a new album."
Read the entire interview at www.secondsupper.com.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
I thought this article was worth posting a link for. The earliest marriage of art and music from Discovery News:
At least 12,000 years ago, the most popular musical events might have taken place in torch-lit caves next to walls covered in art, according to new archaeological research in France.
Stone Age-era caves there bear paintings located in the most acoustically resonant places, where sound lingers or echoes.
The first cathedrals, theaters and concert halls, researchers now theorize, may have been inspired by musical performances held in caves. [read more]
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Explore sixty years of outstanding album cover artwork in the special exhibition, LP Art, at the Lake County Discovery Museum. Since the conception of album art in 1939, it has become an integral part of music and popular culture. See the cover evolve from early jazz sleeves to iconic rock covers to interactive cd booklets. View some of the most memorable and inventive album covers of all time by artists like Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Beck. Relive a generation where record shops were like art galleries, and even bad music was graced with beautiful artwork.
The exhibit contains sections on rock, punk, jazz, funk, hip hop, pop, novelty and children's records. It also features highlights from the remarkable catalogues of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. A special area focuses on album covers by famous visual artists such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Takashi Murakami and Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibit also includes the history of the various audio formats and packaging that were used to distribute music over the years, including Edison phonographic cylinders, records, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, Compact Discs (CDs) and MP3 files.
The exhibition features numerous hands-on activities for children and adults. In the Cover Art Studio kids can design their own album cover or interpret a classic such as Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” At the Cover Shoot visitors can take the stage with various costumes and props and get in touch with their inner rock star. Adults can get in on the fun as they try to recall band logos in our Album Art Alphabet game. A free audio tour provides a soundtrack for visitors as they explore the exhibit.
The Lake County Discovery Museum is located in the Lakewood Forest Preserve on Route 176, just west of Fairfield Road in Wauconda, Illinois.
Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
$6 for adults and $2.50 for youth ages four to 17. Children three years and under are free. Seniors are $2.50 after 2 p.m. On Discount Tuesdays, admission is $3 for adults, and youth 17 years and under are free. Admission is always free for museum members.
Click here to download a coupon for $1 off Museum admission.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"The music world's a made-up bunch of hypocritical rubbish. I know that the book people are a whole lot saner. And the art world? From the small steps I've taken in it, I'd say, yeah, the people are honest, upfront and deliver what they say.”
Friday, June 6, 2008
The Museum at
The Museum at Bethel Woods opened its doors June 2, at the site of the historic 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. An integral part of the non-profit
For more information on The Museum at Bethel Woods or
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Was there ever really a time when you couldn't show a toilet on a product without it being banned from the public's eyes? Seems so quaint now in this day and age, sad to say. Gibson has an interesting list of banned album covers from over the years. Remember the Beatles' butcher cover? The Mamas and the Papas toilet fiasco? Be forewarned, some of these images are not safe for work.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"Everyone thinks it's a dying art," Stoltze explains in his Fort Point Channel studio. "But the truth is that there's a lot of really great things still being done by the small record labels and designers."
So says the author of the new book, 1000 Music Graphics: A compilation of packaging, posters, and other sound solutions in an interview with Christopher Muther at boston.com.
Stoltze is optimistic about the future of album art. I’m trying to be. He things that people will continue to want to have something tangible in their hands instead of just a bunch of digital files. That seems right to me and since it’s something I love to design, here’s to the little flicker of hope that Stoltze has given me.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I read an interesting interview this morning on MusicDish.com with photographer Karl Ferris who designed the first Jimi Hendrix album release, "Are You Experienced." If you haven't listened to this album, do yourself a favor and purchase it. It's one of the most creative albums that was released during the 60s in my opinion.
Ferris mentions in the interview the frustration he had with the Reprise record label in getting his vision into print. Things didn't go quite the way he hoped they'd go. Here's the link, and it's well worth your time reading about this bit of graphic design pop history.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Futura: The Art of Rich Black
By Rich Black
Dark Horse, 112 Pages
Rock posters had just started going through their third renaissance. The first being in the Sixties with Griffin, Mouse, Moscoso, Tuten, and so on. The second time was the early Nineties with Kozik, Coop, Forbes, Hess, Emek, and Hampton. Rock posters started showing up again in the beginning of 2000. It was as if “Klaatu Barada Nikto!” was uttered, and a small group of people woke up and began making rock posters for the bands touring through their cities.
In case you were wondering, there’s very little money to be made in rock posters. Yet people are still designing them and are passionate. The same can be said of Rich Black. He’s passionate about the poster he does. I personally think he’s had the greatest impact with the Goth/Industrial scene, a scene that’s overlooked by most other rock poster artists. Rich chooses the bands he likes. Bands that you’ve never heard of because they’re hardly on the TV or radio. Great bands that need posters and appreciate them. Whether Rich admits it or not, he’s an important part of that scene, and he’s doing his part to keep it alive. But he’ll never cop to it. It is difficult to out-humble that fucking guy.
Now we’re in the third (and hopefully not the last) poster renaissance of artists who are making the music scene breathe with life and color again. This time around, more people are informed and involved, thanks to the many websites and forums that have been popping up and supporting the movement (especially gigposters.com). Books are being published on the rock poster genre and the artists who are shaping it.
—Brian Ewing, from the Foreword
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
The music industry is set for massive upheaval, with digital distribution destabilizing long-held business models. How will this affect the designers who create the all-important visual imagery? asks Adrian Shaughnessy [read the rest of this article]
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Artist: Arnold Skolnick
The Woodstock dove is really a catbird; originally, it perched on a flute. "I was staying on Shelter Island off Long Island, and I was drawing catbirds all the time," said artist Arnold Skolnick. "As soon as Ira Arnold (a copywriter on the project) called with the copy-approved Three Days of Peace and Music, I just took the razor blade and cut that catbird out of the sketchpad I was using. "First, it sat on a flute. I was listening to jazz at the time, and I guess thats why. But anyway, it sat on a flute for a day, and I finally ended up putting it on a guitar."
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Gary Grimshaw, legendary rock poster artist is still wowing collectors. His current exhibit, Gary Grimshaw Music Art at Woods Gallery in Huntington Woods, MI is said to be a chronicle of the rock music scene in the Metro Detroit Area from the 60’s to the present. It features original art and printed posters. The exhibit will run from February 25-April 17, 2008. The Gallery is located in the lower level of the Huntington Woods Library.
Aficionados of rock history and memorabilia will have the opportunity to mingle with Grimshaw at the exhibit’s opening reception from 6:30 - 8:30pm on Thursday, March 6, 2008. Woods Gallery is located at 26415 Scotia, Huntington Woods, MI. For information about the exhibit call (248) 581- 2696 or visit www.woodsgallery.org.
The exhibit shows part of the evolution of Gary’s body of work. It is a treat for those seeking to remember the psychedelic era and the pursuit of freedom of expression among Detroit’s counter-culture artists. Grimshaw is the guru of the rock poster genre in Michigan.
In 1999, Gary was named one of Michigan's 100 Greatest Artists and Entertainers of the Twentieth Century by the Detroit Free Press. His work is on view at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Grimshaw created posters and light shows fo
February 25-April 17, 2008r Detroit’s GrandeBallroom in the late 60s, and he has worked with major promoters such as Bill Graham Presents. His collection of rock posters includes work for artists such as Jimi Hendrix, MC5, The Doors, Cream, Iggy Pop, The Who, and The Yardbirds. He is featured in the bible book of posters called The Art of Rock: Posters From Presley to Punk by Paul Grushkin.
Exhibit: Gary Grimshaw Music Art
Reception: Thursday, March 6, 2008 6:30- 8:30pm
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Art Director: Robert Fraser
Designer: Peter Blake/Jann Haworth
Photographer: Michael Cooper
According to Blake, the original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt. Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows the Beatles, as the Sgt. Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, rendered as life sized cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of the Beatles as they appeared in the early '60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. The wax figures appear to be looking down on the word "Beatles" spelled out in flowers as if it were a grave, and it has been speculated that this symbolizes that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone. At their feet were several affectations from the Beatles' homes including small statues belonging to Lennon and Harrison, a small portable TV set and a trophy. A young delivery boy who provided the flowers for the photo session was allowed to contribute a guitar made of yellow hyacinths. Although it has long been rumored that some of the plants in the arrangement were cannabis plants, this is untrue. Also included is a Shirley Temple doll wearing a sweater in homage to the Rolling Stones (who would return the tribute by having the Beatles hidden in the cover of their own Their Satanic Majesties Request LP later that year).
The collage depicted more than 70 famous people, including writers, musicians, film stars and (at
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The Paperback Cinema is a Alt-Folk collective from the Philadelphia area. One of it's memeber's is Tim McNally who I have done design work for in the past. With most of the music projects I work on, after meeting with the client and getting a good feel about what their music is all about, I am usually given creative freedom to design whatever I think will work best. Musicians can sometimes be wary of losing any kind of creative control when it comes to their music, so I find it is really important to have an honest conversation so that both parties can agree what the expectations are for the final project.
I am lucky that most of the music projects I have worked on, the musicans or record labels contact me and want to use me for my particular design and illustration styles. Because of this, there usually is very little in revisions.
This was of of those projects that basically went off without a hitch. I wanted to explore a more "restrained" type of illustration that felt like an underground graphic novel. One of the major changes for me in this piece was using various water color washes and using marker. I went through multiple versions trying to really get a solid overall consistant look and feel. There are some many variations, some with very little use of color and others that have big bold swatches of color. There was a little about each version that I liked so in the end I had to choose the version that seemed to incorporate the most of the best elements from all the versions.
When it was done, I was pleased with the end result and I really enjoyed the creative process that I went though to create this piece. One of the elements I love the most is the typography. I wanted a big bold slab font that had a 1950's pulp novel feel. I could'nt really find a typeface that I liked or that unique enough to visually marry with the illustration. I decided to create a typeface specifically for this project. I sketched out the font by hand and did multiple tracings until I got the way I wanted. I then scanned in the inked alphabet and cleaned it up a bit in Photoshop. From there I printed out the entire alphabet to a black and white laser printer and made a photocopy. Using the photocopy and turpentine, I transfered the letters onto a slab of Speedball lino block. I then carved out each letter(some letters had to carved multiple times to get them right). I then inked the blocks and printed out pages and pages of the letters. After printing the letters, I scanned in the best pages of the letters and picked out the best letters from the various prints. I vreated one Photoshop file that contained all the best letters and I then created a hi-res PS brush for each letter. Using the PS brushes I then created the type for the cd package.
It might seem like a long process just for the typography and I know it would have been quicker just to scan in the original sketches and used the computer to create them and distress them. By I never really care to take the "quick and easy" way. First of all I love what I do so why would I want to shorten the time I get to do it? Secondly, if you really want to get a "hand drawn" feeling and get small imperfections to the look and feel then there is no better way than to do it by hand.
A design will always have a much stronger feel to it if some part of it was created by hand because the artist has a connection to the work through a tacile response as the ink or paint is applied.
Finished package design (click to enlarge):
CD single cover that uses more of fontface:
Finished package design (click to enlarge):
Here are some photos of the font creation process:
Transfering the letters onto the block:
Cutting out the letters:
Close view of progress:
One of the many prints that were scanned in:
Sorry for the really long post. Hope you enjoyed it though.
>K. Von B.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Let me first explain that I am actually old enough to have designed my first album cover in 1974. From there, the industry took a pretty abrupt leap to the smaller format of compact discs while still retaining the need for a graphic designer to design the physical packaging.
With digital downloading on the rise, my first thoughts were, “Great, another product line of graphic design I will have to drop.” Not so fast. Seems, that maybe this whole switcheroo won’t be as bad as I first thought.
Antony Bruno has written an article for Billboard magazine titled, “Digital album packaging should improve in 2008.” It’s well worth the time to read for anyone even remotely interested in the future of graphic design and music. Read Bruno's article here.
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