September 4, 2013

Pen & Pixel Collection

We are excited to announce that the Pen & Pixel Collection is now available in the UH Digital Library!
Big Tymers, I Got that Work, poster flat

 Stylishly dressed rappers, diamond encrusted jewelry, piles of cash, and champagne bottles epitomized the bling aesthetic associated with many 1990s hip hop artists. During this time, Houston-based firm Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. began using these visual elements to create album covers that portrayed the high life. This collection comprises 92 images related to the firm, including digital files of album cover artwork, a catalog, and photographs of offices and staff.

PoBoy, CD cover artwork

Pen & Pixel was innovative in its use of early Adobe Photoshop; their designers used as many as 200 layers to build up a single images. The company typically photographed a client in the studio, then used Photoshop to surround the portrait with a collage of cars, models, and luxury items. Pen & Pixel also developed highly stylized title lettering that suggested diamonds or precious metals.

Pen & Pixel number three client room desk

Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. was founded in September 1992 by brothers Shawn and Aaron Brauch. The Brauch brothers got their start by working for Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records before recognizing that demand for their graphic design work was high enough to enable them to start their own company. Shawn became the firm’s creative director and vice president, and Aaron served as its general manager. They worked primarily with rap musicians, including renowned artists such as Lil Wayne and Master P and record labels Cash Money Records and No Limit Records.In addition to album covers, Pen & Pixel produced artwork for posters, logos, and videos. The firm closed in the early 2000s.

DJ Screw, 3 'N the Mornin', poster

The original materials for this collection are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. Records. We  would like to thank everyone who helped make the Pen & Pixel Collection possible. Explore this and our other fascinating collections in the UH Digital Library!

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