From The Depths: Ernie Cefalu

Here is the next installment of From The Depths, which is a look inside the studio spaces of some amazing metal visual artists.

Let’s spend sometime in the workspace of the the legendary Ernie Cefalu.


Ernie Cefalu is the owner, and Senior Creative Director of HornBook Inc. the original cyber-agency with an arsenal of 25 World-Class creative professionals.

Ernie was Senior Creative Director and Co-Owner of Y & M Associates in Los Angeles. His agency was known for its breakthrough business solutions fueled by keen strategic focus and unparalleled creative design. He sat at the helm of this cutting edge boutique and his eye, and hand, touched and guided every client’s assignment. He remains a leader in this industry.

Ernie started his career on Madison Avenue in the late 1960’s. He was hired at Norman Levitte Advertising to help prevent losing a major account, Decca Records. Ernie’s award-winning work in designing the Jesus Christ Superstar album not only won the account over, it changed his life forever. His creative genius was now known and creating demand.

Ernie’s drive and passion for excellence led him to a new chapter in 1970. He joined forces with Craig Braun, Inc. in New York. Knowing the importance of first impressions, he wanted to make a mark on his first assignment. The result has become an icon of the ages- the tongue logo for The Rolling Stones and the rule-breaking Sticky Finger album. Three months later Ernie was asked to open a satellite office in California where he would be the head art director. The hits kept coming for Ernie… Led Zeppelin III, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, Cheech & Chong’s Big Bamboo, and Captain Beyond among others. Ernie was at the top of his game and knew it was time to leave and start his own agency.

In 1972 he opened the legendary “Pacific Eye and Ear”. Over the next 13 years, he created another 183 album covers for rock legends like: The Doors, Aerosmith, The Bee Gees, The Guess Who, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, Grand Funk Railroad, Iron Butterfly, and with the 2009 release of Burton Cummings new album makes 209 total albums designed to date. He has received three Grammy nominations for his work, 10 Music Hall Of Fame awards, 4 awards of excellence from the Los Angeles Art Directors Club, and has been presented with 25 gold albums and a triple platinum album by some of the bands whose album covers he had designed. Pacific Eye and Ear was now on the map forever – easily recognized as one of the top three album design companies in the country.

In the late 80’s, as work in the music business was slowing down, Ernie knew it was time to reinvent himself. He would go mainstream where traditional advertising was expected, but he would offer a very different kind of service and product. He felt he was really in touch with people. He understood how they think, how they feel and how they act. If they were half as bored as he was with status quo advertising, packaging design, consumer promotions, and merchandising materials in stores- he knew he would have an exciting, thriving business. Ernie felt different businesses require different solutions…but they all need a attitude, a heart and a soul. Ernie could provide that connection.

In 1989, Ernie added an unlikely account to his client roster, Nestlé USA. Over the next decade, his work helped over 20 brands in Nestlé’s five divisions post double-digit sales growth. Naturally, word of mouth grew. He added to his client base Sara Lee, Wolfgang Puck, Sizzler, La Brea Bakery, Jerbeau Chocolates, Adams and Brooks…and many more food companies. He cut across industries and added K-Mart, Disney, Universal, Game Works, Valvoline, Nature Made, The National Hot Rod Association, Mopar, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Matell/NASCAR among others. At InBev USA he worked on all the national promotions for Beck’s, Bass, Stella Artios, Labaltt and Koknee Beer Brands.

Today, after successfully completing album covers 212 for Burton Cummings “Above The Ground,” Alice Coopers “Old School” box set 213 and Alice Cooper’s “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” 214 and today Ernie is working on album covers 215 and 216.

Ernie is also sole owner of the owner of “The Largest, Privately Owned, Original Album Cover Art Collection In The World”  boasting over 250 signed originals. He is also retained by three Fortune Fifty companies as their in-house creative director, with Cott Beverage (the number one non-name brand beverage company in the World), HSBC Financial (the Worlds third largest lender), Chang Beer (Southeast Asia’s #1 Beer), Coca Cola, Grand Daddy Purp, K.W. Estes Mediceuticals, Patient 2 Patient Care, Mars Beverage and Joseph Farms Cheese (Gallo Wine) being the most recent addition to Ernie’s client roster.

He is a dynamic speaker that captivates and electrifies audiences as he travels the country. If you ask him to reflect on his illustrious career his response is always the same…”Career? What do you mean, I’m just warming up. Wait till you see what’s next”












About Vertebrae33

Through hard work and dedication, Vertebrae33 has established himself as one of the most prolific and exciting illustrators on the scene today.  He has received much acclaim as of late for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and wholly unique, raw style.