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Canvas Trends

Graphic designers have plenty of canvas options to choose from to present their work. The bumper sticker. The annual report. The billboard. The wedding invite. Storefront windows. We really are blessed with an almost infinite number of substrates to mark up.

For better or worse, canvases come and go. Often it’s due to changes in technology.

The Annual Report is a recent canvas that is slowly receding into the past. The internet allows corporations to communicate their business objectives to the investor faster, cheaper, and with the ability to go back and edit things if the need arises.

One of my favorite canvases is the record sleeve. I haven’t actually designed any myself, but as a consumer and ex-teenagaer, there’s not a nicer way to show off quality graphic design than on a 12” dust jacket. Music packaging has been one of the highlights of the graphic design profession. It has become a ubiquitous part of our culture.

Sadly, it’s disappearing. Technology has brought us the ability to buy, sell and trade music without the need of vinyl, tape, or pressed shiny disks. Stefan Sagmeister offers some insight into the trend in the latest issue of Graphic Design USA:

There is a good possibility that the visualization of music turned out to have had a very limited historical life-span, say, from 1940 until 2010. Music existed rather happily without any visuals before the forties and certainly will be able to survive nicely without us designers getting involved…

…If I look at people’s hard disks and see the mess of tens of thousands of music files…my guess would be that the idea of the record collection as an integral part of adolescence will be buried in the same grave too.

Which is sad. But true. Even the Bible thumpers are giving up on the CD.

Fortunately, thanks to advances in technology, we also have plenty of new canvases to plaster our work upon. This one caught my interest.

Since this is Friday, there’s no need for deep thought here. Let’s end this discussion with some random questions for you all to pick and choose from:

What’s your favorite Album sleeve from your teenage years?
What’s your favorite canvas?
What ‘canvas’ do you miss the most?
Is Procter & Gamble an idiot or genius?

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PUBLISHED ON May.21.2004 BY darrel
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

What's your favorite Album sleeve from your teenage years?

Is Procter & Gamble an idiot or genius?


On May.21.2004 at 02:39 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

I recently went to a grad show where a student had done a 7" for a local band. Never having had the chance to do any work for any part of the music biz I was really jealous. It was nice work.

My favourite canvas is the one inside my head.

Outside of that it's probably the art exhibition catalogue. A wonderful canvas to work with that also has the benefit of a good deal of freedom. Posters are great too, but second to the catalogue.

Tapes and CDs were the sleeves of my teenage years, but I can't think of a cover that really stands out that I actually owned.

On May.21.2004 at 02:41 PM
marian’s comment is:

Completely off the top of my head (and probably worth retracting later)

King Crimson, The Court of the Crimson King

Canvas - the poster

And I'm with Kiran on P&G, there.

On May.21.2004 at 03:06 PM
Jerel’s comment is:

Pixies album covers, vaughan oliver.

Album covers. Band flyers, etc.

Album covers.


On May.21.2004 at 03:07 PM
Paul’s comment is:

I can actually remember seeing this one in the record store when it came out. I was 10 years old and it seemed so dirty! There are (blush!) bras on the back cover.

It remains one of my all-time favorite record covers, and one of my all-time favorite albums as well.

And I'm with Jerel on the Pixies covers, too. Also, I'm pretty sure it was the gatefold photo from Kiss Alive II that made me want to be a rockstar for far too much of my life...

On May.21.2004 at 03:10 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

See Hipgnosis.

A postcard. Or a band flyer.

I usually miss those rubber things in the urinals.

The chips are fun.

On May.21.2004 at 03:12 PM
graham’s comment is:

all creation is a canvas from the lowly oat to the whole spherical shaped canopy we call 'sky' including but not exclusive to cow, shandy, wiring, pylon, mechanically mixed substances through hardening states and roofing, galleon, trouser-not however licky-kicky-comb.

music container=renee/renato (siamese twin from neptune) 'save all up youre luvvin'

i know of no one whom is this 'procktorgamble' or where. perhaps lear and fool one and combined.

On May.21.2004 at 03:17 PM
Jerel’s comment is:


I drew and re-drew that face numerous times while listening to 21st Century Schizoid Man. It was the only prog-rock I could handle as a kid.

This tool is handy given the discussion. I've linked it in with marian's choice as the search criteria for folks who haven't seen that cover.

On May.21.2004 at 03:20 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

The P&G comment was in reference to the last link in my post. Let's not debate PETA agenda's on a Friday, though. ;o)

Here's my fave album covers from memory:

On May.21.2004 at 03:21 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

The P&G comment was in reference to the last link in my post. Let's not debate PETA agenda's on a Friday, though. ;o)

Printed fucking chips? I see P&G and nothing else comes to mind but their vivisection.

On May.21.2004 at 04:21 PM
Justin’s comment is:

I don't dabble too much in the print world, mostly I make small things for myself. I particularily like leaflets and business cards. They're so limiting in terms of the amount of information you can fit, it's great.

I really like making mini-sites or special sites to promote certain things or aspects of a company. Sites that inheret only a few (or no) elements from their parent site, brand, identity, etc. They're a blast because you can usually get away with doing edgier work.

On May.21.2004 at 05:49 PM
Jason’s comment is:

Funny. I read the headline for your post, Darrel, and immediately thought about the software application Canvas. Boy, what a piece of crap that was.

On May.21.2004 at 06:13 PM
Shawn Wolfe’s comment is:

They're too numerous to mention them all.

This one was really satisfying, on every level.

On May.21.2004 at 06:37 PM
Shawn Wolfe’s comment is:

I love all the Hipgnosis stuff.

And the Sweet, Queen, Elton, ELO sleeves...

Then this one melted my brain and changed everything forever.

On May.21.2004 at 06:43 PM
Micah’s comment is:

What's your favorite Album sleeve from your teenage years?

What's your favorite canvas?

Paper. Anything paper.

What 'canvas' do you miss the most?

Color Aid. Kidding.

Is Procter & Gamble an idiot or genius?

Genius if they they are trying to make fat people smarter. Seriously, it's awful what companies will do these days to get people to buy their products. Especially the ones that we should live without.

On May.22.2004 at 02:24 AM
Daniel’s comment is:

What's your favourite Album sleeve?

Don't know really, off the top I guess it would be Pat Metheny's Imaginary Day; more because of the design approach leading to it though. Trio 99>00 is good too.

What's your favourite canvas?

I like paper too; print is my game.

What 'canvas' do you miss the most?

Haven’t been in the game long enough to miss anything yet.

Is Procter & Gamble an idiot or genius?

I’m with Micah on the smarter fat people thing. They surly didn’t require the kind of brainpower that feeds this discussion forum to come up with this; did they? I reflect on the idea that, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

On May.22.2004 at 05:29 AM
Tom Werner’s comment is:

Favorite album cover: Pink Floyd - Division Bell.

The printed Pringles seem like they could be popular for parties or other social occasions, but I don't see people going out of their way to buy the printed vs non-printed Pringles. It just seems strange to be eating words. But then, I guess we've been doing it with those printed valentines candies for long enough. And I just wanted to point out that you can eat potato chips without being fat. It's called exercise.

On May.22.2004 at 03:10 PM
Drunk Daniel’s comment is:

Werner: And I just wanted to point out that you can eat potato chips without being fat. It's called exercise.

Cheers to that.

On May.22.2004 at 09:21 PM
Drunk Daniel’s comment is:

Why don’t they print on the reverse side? Cheep ass…

On May.22.2004 at 09:26 PM
Achilles Y’s comment is:

Album sleeves

Big Black's Songs about f***ing

Cypress Hill's Black Sunday

Faith no More's King for a Day

Favorite canvas

Posters... short and sweet, my favorite bit of design. I wish I were Polish.

On May.23.2004 at 07:45 AM
Ashley’s comment is:

Achilles Y: I AM part Polish and wish I could design like that as well. Thank you for sharing the link.


On May.23.2004 at 02:04 PM
trf’s comment is:

album: johnny cash anything

canvas: i love poster design

miss + : good design

P&G: $ for your soul is never good.

On May.24.2004 at 04:06 PM