Ernie Cefalu

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Ernie Cefalu
Ernie Cefalu.jpg
Ernie Cefalu, Creative Director
Born 1945 (age 69–70)
Original Album Cover Art

Ernie Cefalu (born 1945) is a contemporary Senior Creative Director, currently working out of Los Angeles, CA. Cefalu attended the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) and graduated in 1969 with honors. Soon after, Cefalu started his career on Madison Avenue at Carolini Advertising, where his first assignment was to create the campaign and graphics for the International Paper Company’s 1970 national sales meeting. His solution took the form of an elaborate, award-winning off-Broadway musical production, 'Dolls Alive.' In the early part of 1970 Cefalu became an Art Director at Norman Levit Advertising where he created the world renowned Jesus Christ Superstar album and Angels[1] in an agency shootout with the Decca Records account as the prize.


At the end of 1970, Cefalu joined forces with Craig Braun, Inc. in New York, where he designed the iconic tongue logo for The Rolling Stones[citation needed] and worked on the 'Sticky Fingers' album as well as Grand Funk Railroad’s 'E Pluribus Funk.' Eight months later in mid 1971 he opened a satellite office in California for Braun, where he was the head Creative Director. There, he was the creative force behind a string of popular album covers for Alice Cooper’s 'School's Out,' and Cheech & Chong’s 'Big Bambu,' among others.

Cefalu opened his own agency, Pacific Eye & Ear, in January 1972. Over the next 15 years, he created another 194 album covers for rock legends such as The Doors, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, The Bee Gees, The Guess Who, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Burton Cummings, Grand Funk Railroad, Iron Butterfly, and Black Oak Arkansas. Cefalu’s collaborations with then emerging illustrators such as Drew Struzan, Bill Garland, Joe Petagno, Carl Ramsey, Ingrid Haenke and Joe Garnet led Pacific Eye & Ear's quest to become one of the top album design companies in the country.

In 1985, Cefalu formed David Hale Associates and broadened his client roster beyond the music industry to include two of the largest food companies in the world, Nestle and Kraft. Over the next decade and a half, his work helped more than 20 brands in five divisions post double-digit sales growth[citation needed]. In 1990 he was retained by Panavision Motion Picture Cameras, NGK Spark Plugs and Rockwell International. In 1996, Cefalu also added national retail chain Kmart, major motion picture studios Paramount, Universal, and Disney, National Hot Rod Association and Valvoline, and Wolfgang Puck's La Brea Bakery. Before the end of 2010 Cefalu had expanded his client roster to welcome Fortune 100 companies InBev, Honeywell/Novar and Avery Dennison and completed album covers 210, 211, and 212.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Thus far in his career, Cefalu has received three Grammy nominations and ten Music Hall of Fame Awards for his album cover work, as well as four Awards of Excellence from Art Directors Clubs. He has also been presented with 15 gold albums and a triple platinum album by the bands whose album covers he designed. With the 2009 release of Burton Cummings’ latest album, 'Above the Ground,' and the 2011 release for Alice Cooper’s 'Old School' box set Cefalu has 212 total album covers to his credit.


Today, as Owner/Creative Director of HornbookInc, the Internet's first virtual agency, Cefalu is retained by four Fortune 100 companies as their internal Creative Director[citation needed]. He continues to take on select, music-related projects.[edit]

Over the course of his career, Cefalu has assembled what is arguably the largest, privately owned, collection of original album cover art and music-related illustration in the world[citation needed]. This body of over 260 signed, original pieces of art, highlighted at, features the previously unavailable work of acclaimed illustrators Drew Struzan, Bill Garland, Joe Petagno, Carl Ramsey, Ingrid Haenke, Joe Garnet and many others.

Creative process[edit]

"As a young designer, I had the privilege of working side by side with many great and talented artists. And as the years went by, I found that choosing the right people to work with was a key ingredient in creating what I often refer to as, 'that magic' -- that illusive, unspeakable, creative force that transforms good work into great work."

"That being said, great creative must always have variety to survive and thrive!” For me, the other key ingredient is taking on a variety of projects across business sectors. There's something about juggling different assignments and working under pressure that brings a fresh perspective and clarity of mind. So, one day, we'd be working on Alice Cooper’s newest album and the next day we'd be designing 13 buses for the Los Angeles Rapid Transit Authority. The following week, we were on-site at Rockwell International, designing and building a 120 square-foot trade show booth for their Ring Laser Gyro Nuclear Guidance Systems. Then the week after that we created a Rock N’ Bowl Promotion for a 26 location Bowling Alley chain in Southern California, raising $50,000.00 for the California Special Olympics. Some people might find it crazy, but I find it invigorating."

Other notable works[edit]

• Iron Butterfly, “Scorching Beauty
Earth Wind & Fire, “Open Our Eyes
• Black Sabbath, “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath
• Jefferson Airplane, “Baron Von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun
• Alice Cooper, “Greatest Hits
• Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare
Tony Orlando and Dawn, “To Be With You”
• Aerosmith, “Toys in the Attic
West, Bruce and Laing, “Whatever Turns You On
• Alice Cooper, “Billion Dollar Babies
• Black Oak Arkansas, "Early Times"
• Melanie, "Live At Carnegie Hall"
• Alice Cooper, "Alice At The Palace Poster"
David Bowie, "Serious Moonlight Tour Logo"
• Modern Jazz Quartet, "In Memoriam"
Canned HeatOne More River to Cross
• The Bee Gees “Main Course
• Burton Cummings “Above the Ground"
• Alice Cooper, "Old School Box Set"
• Alice Cooper, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare"


External links[edit]