Unsung Heroes: Stories From Your Favorite Album Cover Makers
Unsung Heroes: Stories From Your Favorite Album Cover Makers
I'm compiling 10 years of conversations with the creators of the world's best-known album covers into one comprehensive book.
I'm compiling 10 years of conversations with the creators of the world's best-known album covers into one comprehensive book. Read more
To see the most-recent list and descriptions of the available rewards, please visit https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-mike-goldstein-unsung-heroes-book-project-reward-descriptions/
Greetings from Chicagoland, and welcome to my new Kickstarter project.
I'm the guy behind the Album Cover Hall of Fame site, and those of you who've been reading my writing for the past 10 years know that I've spent that time researching and writing about the talented people who have contributed their skills to making great imagery and packages for their clients in the music industry, and so after a great deal of friendly prodding from my readers and fans of these works, I've finally decided to compile selections from my writing into a book.
While I know that there have been a number of good books about album cover art written over the years, most all of them have focused on the images and the musical acts they've represented, rather than on the designers, directors, photographers, illustrators, and all the others that were actually tasked to produce these memorable works of art.
With my new book, I look to correct that oversight.
In preparation for this project, I talked to the writers, curators, gallery owners and music industry experts that make up the voting panel for the AlbumCoverHallofFame.com site I run along with others I've met during my career in the media about what I might do to create something new on the topic of album art. As time went on, it became clear that I should focus my efforts on a couple of things that seem to have been somewhat-marginalized in the album cover art books that have been released up until this point:
One - meeting the people who've created your favorite covers and learning more about what makes them unique and compelling subjects - people you want to know. I'll give you the "hows" and "whys" and "whens" about their careers in this field and what it was that made album art production such an important focus of their work and
Two - helping music and art fans understand what it takes to produce memorable album cover images by looking at the processes and tools that were used to create these works (and at the relationships that formed between the project team members and their clients).
I've learned a lot about the pop culture influences that may have provided some of the motivation behind the designs that were ultimately produced, and I think that I've come up with an approach to delivering this information in ways that will both inform and entertain readers.
Over the past 10 years, I've interviewed over 100 of these talented individuals - Art and Creative Directors, Illustrators, Photographers, Designers and the other specialists that have contributed to the huge variety of designs used to package records over the years - and published these articles on the various blogs, web sites and magazines I've written for. In addition, since beginning the "planning and gathering" efforts for this new book project, I've been working on sourcing even more content, adding new quotes, stories and information from two main groups - those being the people I've previously interviewed as well as people I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting before.
With my focus now on completing the additional writing and editing that will be required to produce a comprehensive-and-yet-entertaining book on the subject, I think that I'm now ready to share the overview of what I've gathered and, with your support, I hope to bring to you in printed form some time very soon. I think that, with your help, this could end up being a book that finally gives music and art fans a chance to see and learn a lot more about a segment of the recorded music businesses whose importance and impact on Pop Culture has been somewhat overlooked and really now deserves to be brought to your attention.
In the book, you'll find interviews with a real "Who's Who" of trend-setting and often-lauded music packaging icons including Ernie Cefalu, David Larkham, Bill Levy, Storm Thorgerson, Nick Egan, Mick Haggerty, John Kosh, Tom Nikosey, John Pasche, Lee Conklin, James Marsh, Dave McMacken, Terry Pastor, Winston Smith, John Van Hamersveld, Edward Colver, George DuBose, Karl Ferris, Brian Griffin, Elliott Landy, Simon Larbalestier, Jerry Schatzberg, Spencer Drate/Judith Salavetz and many more.
Their client lists include almost every major name musical act who came to prominence during the past 60+ years of rock/Pop music history - The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, Elton John, James Brown, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Supertramp, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Santana, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Green Day, KISS, Madonna, Ramones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Pixies, Talk Talk, Grateful Dead and so many others...
In addition to “meeting” these talented folks, you’ll also learn the stories about how they teamed with their clients to create the memorable album covers for records including Dark Side of the Moon, Breakfast In America, Ziggy Stardust…, Exile On Main Street, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Jesus Christ Superstar, Are You Experienced?, A Broken Frame, Fear Of Music, Lush Life and dozens more of your favorites.
Here are just a few samples of what you'll find in the Interview section of my book:
Spencer Drate (Talking Heads Fear of Music) – “Originally, Talking Heads proposed concepts that entailed using an actual vinyl surface to print on or using a Styrofoam box embedded with tiny electric lights and ink that would disappear when you lifted the shrink-wrap. John Gillespie told me that we’d need the help of Russian scientists to make that idea work! These concepts were so visionary, but they were too expensive to produce and the folks at Warner Bros Records just freaked out!.”
Kosh (Linda Ronstadt’s Lush Life) – “Lush Life was going to be her second collaboration with Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra and, since Linda was immersed in the big band period and the fashion of the era, I told her that I was going to put her in a hat box... I was asking for gold foil on the lettering, etc., which never happened, but we got the requested die cutting. And the Grammy.”
David Larkham (Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) – “…one day, partly to alleviate his boredom and partly to give me a taste of the songs he’d written so far – he and I went off to the recording studio. There, he sat at the piano on his own and played and sang the songs to me – Elton John, playing to an audience of one! I felt very honored, and it gave me the chance to appreciate the diversity of the songs and to get a good “feel” for the music. Inspired, I returned to Los Angeles..”
And that's not all...In addition to those interviews, I’m going to include pages of selected quotes from both those previously-mentioned craftspeople I’ve interviewed and from many other well-known-and-respected artists, designers, illustrators, photographers, music marketing execs, museum and gallery curators and other experts in their respective fields. These quotes will give you even more insight into what these people think about the importance of album cover art, who is making art today that they admire and their thoughts on topics ranging from creativity and process to the ongoing viability of the art form in today’s world of digital delivery and copyright issues:
George DuBose, photographer (on current album cover design) – “ I do see a lot of covers that are merely opportunities for the designer to display his own art and that art often has absolutely nothing to do with the music contained therein. I have read one top British Hip-Hop designer who stated in an interview, that he NEVER listens to the music for which he is designing the cover. I consider that a supreme travesty.”
Lawrence Azerrad, art director (about whether today’s record labels/musical acts still invest in good cover art) – “The metrics of the music industry have had such a precipitous decline that, by and large, most of my clients can't afford to pay me what they did in the late 90s. That goes for not just me but also art directors, photographers and record packagers. That being said, I'm on the craft committee for the Grammys…and I saw a lot of examples of really exceptional and elaborate special packages that are out there.“
Nic Dartnell, illustrator (on whether album art creators are leading or following design trends) – “It would be great if the music was accompanied by 'Tack On' artwork and graffiti to be screened on computers, TV's and wall projections so that fans could associate styles of visual imagery with their music. This would enhance the music and provide a mass outlet for the work for all kinds of artists…”
To round out the offering, you’ll also find articles about related topics such as: Best Selling Albums (and who did their covers), films about album cover art, musicians who create their own covers and a comprehensive overview and timeline of album cover art exhibitions around the world.
Now that you see what’s going to be included, I'm looking for your help so that I can produce a very special "collector's edition" of my book and offer it - along with some really desirable incentives at much-lower-than-retail prices - to collectors and lovers of great album art and the talented people that made it (take a look at what's available at this special page I've created on the ACHOF web site - https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-mike-goldstein-unsung-heroes-book-project-reward-descriptions/). Based on my research and the recent successes of other artists and writers who've self-published some wonderful books on music industry-related topics, I believe that I can produce a high-quality, beautifully-printed book - approximately 500 pages long - and deliver it within 6 months after the conclusion of my Kickstarter program - something of a rarity in the world of self-publishing, as most have taken a year or more to deliver.
The big differences here are that a) I'm nearly finished with writing and basic editing, with the design and final editing aspects of the project all that's left to do at this point, and b) I have a strong background in TV, web and print production, so I can rely on my proven abilities to deliver great products on time and within budget to assure you, my supporters, that you'll receive what you expect within a reasonable time frame (I've already got my designer - the talented Simon Robinson of the ST33 publishing house - on board and ready to go once funding is in place).
I think that, once you read the details of what you'll get at the various support levels I've set up, you'll find one that both guarantees that you'll be one of the select few to receive this new book as soon as it's available and that gets you the bonus artwork you'd like to add to your collection at a VERY reasonable price (as much as 50% off the regular retail prices you'd find in galleries).
Once again, I hope that you will support me in this effort - I'm going to do everything I can to make you happy with your commitment. Thanks.
Risks and challenges
As I explained previously, I believe that the work I've already completed on this project - gathering the materials (and the permissions to use them), basic editing, securing initial design and printing cost estimates, etc., with only page layout, final edits and printing remaining, greatly lowers the risks of there being any difficulty in my ability to produce and deliver this book.
I also have the experience of running a successful online fine art gallery for nearly 8 years, shipping fine art prints to thousands of collectors all over the world, so I'm also quite confident that I'll be able to ship both the books and the rewards out quickly once the finished books are in hand (I already have all of the art prints being offered as rewards in stock and ready to ship).
We're looking to have the books printed either in the U.S. or Canada, so we don't anticipate any major delays in getting the books once they've been printed. Of course, as I'm relying on common carriers - our default being the U.S. Postal Service - to deliver the books to my supporters once they've been shipped, if there are any delays caused by weather or system issues, that could possibly effect actual delivery times both in the U.S. and to supporters overseas. I'll include more details regarding international shipments in the FAQs section.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)