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Cereal Box Project

    2019. Cereal Box design
    Photoshop and Illustrator, 1.75″ x 6.25″ x 8.5″

    Recent statistics show that the demographics for who is drawn to and eats breakfast cereals skew to children and to older adults. Young and middle-aged adults do not buy as much packaged cereal. Boxed cereals aimed at the young and middle-aged adult market are typically simple in design, full of fiber and tout health benefits.

    This project started from this point of departure: what would a fun, irreverent and not-good-for-you cereal for adults look like. I wanted to bring a bit of nostalgia in, but for a post baby-boomer generation. I also wanted to update the back of the box experience for adults.

    I am reminded that music crosses generations and this got me to thinking that music, specifically a rock and roll themed box might be the way to go. The choice of Pink Floyd came from my own familiarity with their music as well as the fact the group was a forerunner in building experiences out of their albums and shows. Cereal boxes are not just product containers, they create an experience for kids. I thought a Pink Floyd box might do the same for adults.

    The visual challenge in designing a Pink Floyd themed box is that great album art exists for Pink Floyd that sets forth an immediately understood iconography (the rainbow prism from The Dark Side of the Moon album, the Battersea power station and floating pig from the Animals album are all well known). I attempted to create new artwork for the cereal box that incorporated these iconic elements but in a new way while still reading as “Pink Floyd.”

    The worn appearance if the box is intended to evoke nostalgia for an album that has been played a lot. I thought about this choice. Vinyl LPs and album art on cardboard sleeves have long since given way to compact discs in plastic holders and even those have been replaced by streaming music services. The feeling of holding the wrapper for music in one’s hands is now reduced to looking at one’s playlist or asking Alexa to play a song. Taken another way, working the vinyl album cover into the cereal box design worked for the materials by matching the tactile feel of holding an album and holding the cereal box.

    However, it wasn’t just the tactile feedback I was after. There was something more that drives, for example, the market for old denim and used motorcycle jackets. Objects from the past animate the imagination bearing a promise of an authentic experience. The cereal box hints at an experience — that the rock and roll album that was transformative in the 1970s is still cool and authentic in the 2020s. What better antidote to a middle-aged box of Fiber One cereal?

    The cereal box is not simply about nostalgia for the past, but also integrates the new ways that people listen to music. I wanted to play off the idea that for some simply seeing the graphics would start the song playing in their minds. For others, the reaction would be along the lines of trying to remember the band or the song. To this effect, I included the Spotify codes to the song “Comfortably Numb” and “Pink Floyd Radio.”

    Finally, as an homage to classic cereal boxes and in keeping with the theme, I included the trippy head-shaped maze on the back.

    Here are in progress photographs for this project:

    The first challenge was to get all the visual elements to work in sync and see how the box read from different angles:

    Another challenge was maintaining square while gluing up the 80lb paper stock the cereal box is printed on. After gluing a couple of boxes that ended up wonky and also noting that the box was flimsy, I opted to build an inner box out of foam core. This made the final assembly a breeze and the final box is stable.

    This project was an assignment in Maggi Reddan’s Design: Advanced Adobe Applications course (SVA Summer 2019). The final part of the assignment was to place the assembled box in various settings.

    This project, as well as projects displayed in the ”Computer Art” section of this website, were featured in the SVA student gallery for Maggi Reddan’s “Design: Basic Digital Design” course:


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