Monday, July 23, 2012

On Tongues and Lips

Even though designer Cefalu had already been working with a version of the Tongue and Lips logo, the Sticky Fingers album, released in March of 1971, actually features a second version of the logo.

The logo this time was designed by renowned British graphic designer John Pasche, then a student the Royal College of Art in London. Some claim that Pasche was actually commissioned in 1969 by Jagger, looking for images for the band. Pasche later said, “The design concept for the tongue was to represent the band’s anti-authoritarian attitude, Mick’s mouth and the obvious sexual connotations.” “I designed it in such a way that it was easily reproduced and in a style I thought could stand the test of time.” But Cefalu counters with the details: “The logo that I did the finish on and that was used on all the merchandising was done by me well before the end of February of 1971. That one was finished black line art and I used matched PMS185 Red and White call outs on it.” Pasche, however, is often credited as being the creator of the now famous logo.

Pasche, who ended up doing graphics work for the Stones from 1970 to 1974, also said, “Face to face with him [Jagger], the first thing you were aware of was the size of his lips and his mouth.” In many versions of the tale, the logo was also said to be influenced by depictions of the fearsome Hindu goddess Kali, usually shown with an open mouth and pointed tongue. Granted, there could be a similarity. Cefalu, however, tells a different story about its inception, claiming that his employer Craig Baum was looking over another album cover design of Cefalu’s, which featured a mouth with a tongue hanging out of it. Baum then mentioned to Cefalu that they had been working, without success, on a logo for the Stones. Inspiration struck, and Baum, who had a meeting that afternoon with the manager of the Stones, asked Cefalu, “can you go upstairs to the art department and take the lips that you did on this label, add a tongue outside and over the bottom lip like this, and finish it in less than an hour?” Cefalu claims that it took him 40 minutes to do a felt marker sketch, to which he added teeth to balance the look.

The Shepard Fairey version
And the logo saga does not end there. The logo was unique, being that it was just the image and had never actually said “The Rolling Stones.” For decades, the band felt that the mouth itself was potent enough. And indeed, the logo has remained as one of the most widely recognized logos ever created. Fast forward to June 2012, though, and another version is rolled out, this time after an overhaul by the popular designer and artist Shepard Fairey. To commemorate their 50th anniversary, the Rolling Stones asked Fairey to update the classic Tongue and Lips. Fairey was “overwhelmed” by the request, commenting that “Mick said he was open to any of my ideas.” Well, perhaps the Tongue and Lips are just too iconic, or perhaps it was just a moment of good judgement, because the biggest change was adding typography around the mouth design, with a few minor tweaks to the mouth itself.

In 2003, VH1 named Sticky Fingers the “No. 1 Greatest Album Cover” of all time, while in August 2008, the Tongue and Lips design (Pasches version) was voted the greatest band logo of all time in an online poll. And although his contributions seem to be often overlooked, maybe one need not feel too bad for Cefalu. In the years since, Cefalu has received much recognition, including Grammy nominations and Music Hall of Fame Awards. As of 2011, Cefalu had 212 total album covers to his credit. He is the owner and creative director of HornBook Inc., the Internet’s first virtual agency, and he serves as the creative director for four Fortune 100 companies. And as an interesting side note, Cefalu has assembled what is perhaps the largest privately-owned collection of original album cover art and music-related illustration in the world.

What do you think of the credit going to Pasche over Cefalu? And how do you feel about the Fairey version of Tongue and Lips? Do you think it is an improvement over Pasches or Cefalus versions?  

Also see: Sticky Fingers and Tongues and Lips - Oh, the Drama

With quotes and images from: and

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