GraphicDesignFilter - Please help me figure out how this Kool and the Gang 7" sleeve was designed almost 30 years ago.
July 1, 2012 10:48 PM   Subscribe

GraphicDesignFilter - Please help me figure out how this Kool and the Gang 7" sleeve was designed almost 30 years ago.

I was talking to two fellow design nerd friends this morning and whatever we were taking about made me recall this Kool and the Gang 45 sleeve from when I was a kid.
I have to wonder how something like this would have been made pre-computer. It seems like an awful lot of expensive airbrush work for something that would have been such a "loss leader".
Its a pretty slick, lavish production. There's even drop shadows under the members.
Perhaps I'm overthinking it and it's just a simple airbrush job but I'm amazed at how modern it looks.
posted by Senor Cardgage to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you include a link to the image?
posted by quadog at 10:55 PM on July 1, 2012

Do you have a picture of it? I'm looking on Google but I'm not sure what you mean by sleeve. Is it the paper part or the sticker that is actually on the record?
posted by Hello Darling at 10:55 PM on July 1, 2012


I'm blessed to live nearby the new-ish Trader Joe's on Sunset Blvd, and as each TJ's is individualized, ours features music, and there are shit-ton of old-school album covers all over the place. It's really fun if you are into graphic design and in your 40's - which I am.

I'd love to answer this question, because I'm keen on deconstructing album covers lately, yet I'm without a reference pic - I can't help here.
posted by jbenben at 10:57 PM on July 1, 2012

Anxious to see the art, but I'm a little confused as to how a one-off commissioned painting with an expense spread across the revenues of tens of thousands 7" sales could be a "loss leader".

Case in point: The epic airbrush work of Shusei Nagoaka done at great expense to paint and print for ELO among others.
posted by sourwookie at 11:12 PM on July 1, 2012

...aaaand a little poking around sees we've kinda covered that already. So you're looking for something else. Link to the art?
posted by sourwookie at 11:19 PM on July 1, 2012

My guess is that the OP is referring to the cover for 'In the Heart'.
posted by wannalol at 3:16 AM on July 2, 2012

My Guess: here (drop shadows under members)
posted by Akke at 3:41 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

We definitely need a link to the actual cover, otherwise we're just guessing which one you mean.
But, you shouldnt judge the cost-effectiveness of art made pre-Photoshop based on today's "just click a button" world. Back then, the business was filled with talent who could crank-out exceptional work. A lot of it was specialized work, but you still had a great many people doing it.

Additionally, the recording business wasn't as fragmented as it is now, and an established act like Kool and the Gang enjoyed a healthy amount of promotion money behind their projects, so paying for some nifty art was not an issue. Recall, too, that art was the primary way a recording could be promoted from the bins of a record store, so spending on eye-catching art was part of the process. Point in fact: sourwookie's example of Shusei Nagoaka's art for ELO. Though, printing such great art cost the same as any other art. It's all 4-color process.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:39 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

At this point, I don't want to see a link!
posted by panaceanot at 6:16 AM on July 2, 2012

> Though, printing such great art cost the same as any other art. It's all 4-color process.

Not necessarily. I worked at a shop that did very high quality printing for boutique packaging. They had a line that could do 4-colour plus three spots and a lacquer. One client had a corporate colour that brought in under guard, the print run was always under secure supervision, and any leftover ink taken back. Sadly, the most gorgeous printing was done for one-off club promos for cigarettes and over-priced booze.
posted by scruss at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2012

Peter Saville's cover for Blue Monday was famously a loss leader, but that was due to the expense of die-cutting.
posted by mippy at 7:22 AM on July 2, 2012

Ah, apparently that wasn't strictly true. Though Factory did make some very ambitious sleeves.
posted by mippy at 7:23 AM on July 2, 2012

scruss...I was addressing high-volume printing of album covers. What you describe are specialty runs which, while certainly did happen for album covers on occasion, were extremely rare things.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: I thought I put it in the text late last night!

Here it is!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:08 PM on July 2, 2012

That might be the artwork for the single sleeve, but it's also the identical artwork from the album it came from. So, it actually seems evident that no money at all was spent on the artwork for the single.
posted by davebush at 1:42 PM on July 2, 2012

Most of the airbrushed background is made of simple hard-edged straight lines and fuzzy swirls of colour. The straight lines would require one straight cut on a mask, and the fuzzy swirls could be done without any masking at all. It's kind of representative of the airbrushing basics, like if you were using a 3D modeling program to make cubes and spheres.
posted by RobotHero at 11:48 AM on July 5, 2012

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