Pen & Pixel

  (Redirected from Pen and Pixel Graphics)

Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc is a Houston, Texas-based graphics design firm that specializes in musical album covers, especially for gangsta rap artists in the Southern United States. For a long time, it was the house design firm for No Limit Records, Cash Money Records, and Suave House Records. The company was started in 1992 by brothers Aaron and Shawn Brauch. The Brauch brothers and their staff worked with over 8,000 clients and completed 19,180[1] album covers before the company closed its doors in 2003.[2] The brothers cited peer-to-peer file sharing website Napster and the September 11 attacks as reasons for the close; artists were reluctant to fly to Houston to view artwork that listeners would be unlikely to see.[3][4]

Cover of Big Bear's 1998 album Doin Thangs

The album covers Pen & Pixel produced have been described as "gaudy"[3] and "outrageous".[5] Common themes included bullets, cars, drugs, fire, gems, money, women, and other examples of wealth and riches.[3][4] Pen & Pixel would fulfill client requests for custom album covers, with sketches of the album cover being drawn based on the concepts requested. These sketches would then be scanned by a computer, which would generate a list of items needed for the cover, such as cars and diamonds. Photos would then be taken of these items from different angles, so the same item could be reused in the future.[1] Pen & Pixel apparently refused to produce possibly political covers.[6][7]

In 2020, Pen & Pixel came out of retirement to design the cover art for 21 Savage and Metro Boomin's Savage Mode II.[8] The artwork is in their signature design, "heavily" inspired by those of Cash Money and No Limit and is a nod to the "bling rap" album covers of the 1990s.[9][10][11]


  1. ^ a b Noisey. "Defining the Visual Style of Southern Hip Hop - Noisey Design (Episode 1)". Vice Media. Retrieved February 18, 2020 – via Youtube.
  2. ^ Julie, Grob. "Special Collections- Librarian". University of Houston. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Mebane, William. "Letter of Recommendation: Pen & Pixel". nytimes. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Kakaire, Christine. "Strictly abiding by a "more-is-more" philosophy, the Brauch brothers shaped the visual aesthetic of Southern hip-hop's flashiest era". RedBullmusicacademy. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Howard, Jacinta. "THE BEST PEN & PIXEL RAP COVERS". theboombox. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Friedman, Skinny. "An Ode to Pen & Pixel Album Covers". Vice. Vice media. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  7. ^ Jenkins, Sacha; Wilson, Elliot; Mao, Jeff; Alvarez, Gabe; Rollins, Brent (March 25, 2014). Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists. St. Martin's Publishing Group. p. 169. ISBN 978-1466866973. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Metro Boomin (confirmed account) [@MetroBoomin] (September 30, 2020). "Shoutout Pen & Pixel for coming out of retirement to do 1 more cover #legendary" (Tweet). Retrieved October 1, 2020 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Findlay, Mitch (September 29, 2020). "Metro Boomin & 21 Savage Unveil "Savage Mode 2" Cover". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Ivey, Justin (September 29, 2020). "21 Savage & Metro Boomin's 'Savage Mode 2' Cover Art Channels Classic Cash Money & No Limit Albums". HipHopDX. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Harper, Rosario (September 29, 2020). "21 Savage + Metro Boomin Reveal Cash Money Records-Inspired Savage Mode II Album Cover". SOHH. Retrieved October 1, 2020.