And the Grammy Goes To . . .

Written by Stuart Sandler on February 14, 2005

In recent years during the Grammy countdown, I’ve paid particular attention to the Packaging category … My dream is to one day be a Grammy award-winning font designer, but if I can’t this year, I can be happy for Mr. Stefan Sagmeister, who won for his Talking Heads box set design.


  1. Tom Dolan says:

    Having designed many CD/album packages in my day, I’d like to just note the injustice of this Grammy category is that the award always goes to “special packaging”— meaning packages outside normal budget and material constraints. It’s okay, cool, fine, and props to Sagemeister (and I love my Talking Heads box) but it’s not quite fair to all those rank and file packages which transcend their limitations and push the envelope. That’s the Grammy category I’d like to see.

  2. mGee says:

    KCUF Sagmeister. Had he not sliced himself up, he would still be an unknown.

  3. Rob Weychert says:

    Tom, you make an excellent point, but let’s not forget that the Grammys are a joke to begin with, so there’s no reason to expect them to handle the Packaging category with any more sense than the rest of the categories (no offense to Sagmeister or Buchanan-Smith & Nadel).

  4. Ray Fenwick says:

    KCUF Sagmeister.

    Oh my! What strong words! At first I thought KCUF Sagmeister was a radio station, but alas, it was only a clever “coding” of a lowest-common-denominator swear word.

    If you actually think Sagmeister’s success is based on one poster, you might want to check out his monograph. I’m not a huge fan of monographs, but his was inpiring. He’s arguably one of the best typographers of the last 20 years, and if you see an overview of his work I think you’ll have a better idea of why he isn’t an unknown.

    Oh, and if you want a critique of someone to resonate, try not to start with words like, say, F**k. Ha.


  5. ben shaykin says:

    …the injustice of this Grammy category is that the award always goes to ďż˝special packagingďż˝…

    Maybe that’s because the category is called “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.”

    There’s a separate “Best Recording Package,” which was won this year by Wilco’s “A Ghost Is Born,” Peter Buchanan-Smith & Dan Nadel, art directors [Nonesuch].

  6. I hope we, as respondents, don’t let this site slip into becoming the speak up of type design & typography, no offense to that site intended.

    If one laments about a single poster while wholly neglecting the surrounding body of work, does this provide evidence of personal malignment, or at least some level of disrespect? I agree that the particular poster may have helped Sagmeister gain position, but I also know a number of designers who respect his work while remaining completely ignorant of this particular incarnation.

    Regardless of legitimacy values we may assign to the Grammys, he does possess client relationships and design skills which offer him this sort of gratification. Whether this is bad or good is not up to me, however interesting the discussion may be…

    I’m not sure if typographer is the most suitable title for him, maybe art director…but graphic designer seems most comfortable.

    sidenote: I am very glad to see a Wilco album somewhere in the Grammys, regardless of the category.

  7. Armin says:


  8. Kegler says:

    Sorry, but this should have won the ďż˝Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.ďż˝ Didn’t “Once In A Lifetime” come out in 2003?

  9. nick shinn says:

    Yeah, he’s a bit of a showman, but that’s the way the world works these days, innit? If anything, the design profession needs more of his kind of pizzaz. However, i don’t think the world is ready for Nick Shinn, The Naked Type Designer, just yet. Maybe if I design a really “bare” typeface.

    April Grieman had previously taken her clothes off for the cause of design.

    Putting yourself in the picture goes back at least as far as Durer; combining self abuse is a more modern art strategy, apropos of Sagmeister to have imported it into graphic design.

    Not being a fan of celebrity designers, awards shows, etc., I haven’t followed his work, so am only aware of the cut poster, the testicles image (whatever that was for), this CD box, and the catalogue for fStop. All interesting pieces that made me look twice, so there is some substance to back up the show.

    It’s interesting that there is this kind of Grammy award. Does the Oscars (or Baftas, for that matter) have a “best title sequence”, best movie DVD, or “best movie poster” award?

  10. JohnJohn says:

    Could anyonw link up to that famous poster ?

  11. Tom Dolan says:

    I take back my gripe, and low and behold, there actually is a category now for non-special package design (this wasn’t the case while I was toiling inside a major label art department). Won this year by a package for Wilco as noted above, so rock on.

    PS: I second the anti-slag on Sagemeister. I think the worst thing you can say about him is he can afford to take projects that don’t pay him a ton of money and he’s a media whore, but so? So was Warhol and Tibor and etc. etc. His monograph is worth the investment; he’s done a ton of work, most of it good.

  12. Jose Contreras says:

    1. I think mgee’s comment was a sarcastic one that only a few people got as a joke. I might be wrong.

    2. I think Sagmeister has more than a few remarkable pieces and is a true thinker in the field (unlike the majority of designers who are good at jockeying “looks”). It sounds by the comments of some people here that there’s a great degree of admiration for his work and but they manifest it as envy.

    3. Cheers.

  13. Jose Contreras says:

    how can one edit a post? I guess that’s not an option at the moment. Whoever can do this, please remove the word “and” towards the end of my previous post. Also remove this one. Thanks.


  14. Jon Young says:

    Is this it?

    I see a strong GG Allin influence in Sagmeister’s work.

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