In this introduction to a four part series about album cover art we will explore several elements of this creative and personal art form with Vinyl Record Day Founder and album frame innovator Gary Freiberg. (www.RockArtPictureShow.com & www.VinylRecordDay.org) We’ll look at historic and controversial album covers, the differences in album cover framing, learn about a growing organization called Vinyl Record Day and see what’s in the future for album cover art. But first, let’s introduce Gary, vinyl preservationist and businessman.
Gary Freiberg is a vinyl enthusiast, historian and preservationist. He is respected internationally as an expert in album cover art. In fact, esteemed programs from the BBC to NPR have featured his insights into an American art form whose repercussions have been felt around the world. His immense interest in vinyl cover art led Freiberg to develop his innovative and patented “Record Album Frame.”
“I’m humbled, and as an avid collector, proud our record album frame that started one evening as a drawing on the back of a paper napkin and has now been chosen by the Smithsonian for exhibit, Home & Garden TV, sold at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as well as thousands of Internet purchasers,” explained Gary. “The industry accolades are appreciated but it’s the customer comments, people we don’t know who have said so many nice things about our frame that is particularly gratifying. Rock Art Picture Show started from my interest in album cover art and I truly believe we have become a leader in the field for the same reason my wife and I had the conversation that led to the napkin drawing. It’s the look; our matted display and patented framing technique creates, and I know this sounds biased, the best display for album cover art. We received our patent because of innovation, just slide your vinyl record into our acrylic frame to matte and frame your album cover instantly, no clips, no assembly and easy to change. There’s a saw tooth hanger that is attached on the back, an album cover is framed and matted for wall display in less than a minute.”
I asked Gary what exactly is the allure, what makes album cover art so appealing? His reply was the abstract feel of music.
“It’s the most personable art form there is. We can appreciate the Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s as fine art but we don’t relate to their work personally, we don’t attach our emotion with fine art. Music is the primary vehicle to our memory of good times and good people, Dick Clark called it the soundtrack of our lives. At times cover art is part of that emotional connection we have with music. Anyone who has owned a record collection has spent time pouring over an album cover while listening to the music; the mental connection is a unified package of cover art and the musical experience. A universal example is the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album. Just mentioning that album conjures up a mental picture of the cover art aside from any emotion associated with the music. The allure of album cover art is- it triggers our personal positive connection to music, the appeal is the incredible creativity of the art form, the visual presentation of an album cover draws the viewer’s attention because we relate to it whether we owned the album or not, album cover art represents the era we alone define as important and influential to who we are today.”
Freiberg also believes album cover art depicts the many cultural aspects and changes society has gone through unlike any other art form.
“Fashion, politics, racial views, lifestyles, we can follow our cultural evolution through album cover art. The early fifties have Mom’s in cocktail dresses, Dad in a tie and the kids scrubbed and fresh,” detailed Gary. “The Beatles and Stones encouraged kids to have long hair in the sixties, John Travolta sold a lot of white disco suits, and each era has its own personality and fashion that is communicated through both the music and the accompanying cover art. We see black artists omitted from their album covers, no pictures front or back. The Chantels album cover took the group of four black women off the cover when their hit “Maybe” went national and replaced them with white teenagers. Album cover art captured our history in its quest to be commercially successful. The art form began in an effort to sell more records and through all the creativity and versatility throughout its forty year history, never lost that as the primary objective.”
And there is more to the story. Album cover art is also used as a marketing tool. As an artist or a group you would want your LP to stand out among the crowd. Album cover art is taken very seriously; it is a method to introduce band members or an image that the band wants you to associate with their music. For decades album cover design was a unique imagery forum of commercial art. And the 12″ by 12″ canvas was all that some famous artists needed to promote the band and their music.
I must admit, I was impressed reading the Customer Comments on the RockArtPictureShow.com web site (www.RockArtPictureShow.com/comments.html). In this world of cyber space, Rock Art Picture Show is not, according to the comments, some faceless corporation; they seem to treat their customers in a very personable way.
“I sincerely appreciate anyone coming by to check out our web site. I view customers as friends who have a common appreciation for the love of cover art and are helping to preserve the art form. My goal, sincerely, is for everyone who selects our frames to get the same enjoyment I get from displaying album covers,” related Gary.
In our next article, we will explore and learn more about album cover art, but in the meantime, stop by RockArtPictureShow.com and enjoy the show.
“The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting.”
By Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay