December 17th, 2010
I have been buying a lot of used vinyl lately. Mostly for under $1 and a majority of it focused on establishing a collection of all the classics: The Carpenters, The Bee Gees, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Dave Brubeck, lots of Motown and Verve Records, and of course the occasional 80′s record that just brings back those childhood memories.
It is interesting when you listen to the 80′s pop genre. The music you know, you think of as ‘amazing’ and then once you hear B-sides or tracks on full lengths that you have not been exposed to, they sound, well, dated. Or shall we say ‘cheesy’, and often plain embarrassing.
The same holds true for the record sleeve designs, as you can see in the examples below:
We see all the 80′s had to offer: The haircuts, the neon, the bad typography, the ‘wild’ angles and effects. Sadly, the same forgettable design is to be ‘heard’ on a lot of the tracks that are hidden behind those album covers.
Yet my top two 80′s albums, Depeche Mode’s ‘Music For The Masses’ and U2′s ‘The Joshua Tree’ seem to be immune to what is going on around them, in sound as well as design sophistication.
There seems to be a formula. Timeless compositions equal timeless designs. Great artists, regardless of their background and genres know to stay away from styles and trends and like working with like minded individuals or firms. It seems that they create work solely with inspiration that comes from within, a gut instinct, driven by just one fundamental thing: a strong concept.
Looking through design annuals of the past years this thread holds true. Trends become a big wash and the only items that truly stand out are new concepts; fresh ideas that are followed through with a smart and appropriate design solution.
Designers, let’s live by this rule! And for those Entrepreneurs and Marketing Managers looking to hire an agency; this might be an important variable to consider when interviewing the agency that creates your brand atmosphere, so that come 2011, no one feels that your brand feels ‘oh so 2010′.