Ernie started his career on Madison Avenue in the late 1960’s. He was hired at Norman Levitt Advertising and his award-winning work for Decca Records (including designs for the Jesus Christ Superstar album) quickly established his creative genius and created demand for his talents. As a young designer in the late 60’s, Ernie had the honor and privilege of working side by side with many great, emerging artists. Ernie’s drive and passion for excellence led him to a new chapter in 1970 when 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 assignments. The results have become rock icons – the tongue logo for The Rolling Stones and the rule-breaking Sticky Fingers album. Three months later, Ernie opened a satellite office for the agency in California where he would be the head Art Director. The hits kept coming for Ernie.. Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, Cheech & Chong’s Big Bambu, and Captain Beyond, among others..
In 1972, Ernie was at the top of his game and knew it was time to leave and start his own agency. He opened the legendary “Pacific Eye and Ear” agency where, over the next 13 years, he created another 183 album covers for rock legends such as The Doors, Aerosmith, The Bee Gees, The Guess Who, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, Grand Funk Railroad, and Iron Butterfly. Pacific Eye and Ear was now on the map forever – easily recognized as one of the top three album design companies in the country. As Pacific Eye & Ear’s Owner/Creative Director, Mr. Cefalu was the conceptual link for some of today’s top illustrators, designers, writers and photographers, including Drew Struzan, Ingrid Haenke, Joe Garnett and many others. During his tenure at Pacific Eye & Ear, Ernie earned three Grammy Award nominations, 10 Music Hall Of Fame Awards and four Creative Director Awards of Excellence from The Los Angeles Art Director Club.
In the late 80’s, as work in the music business was slowing, Ernie knew it was time to reinvent himself. He would “go mainstream” where traditional advertising was expected, but he would offer clients a very different kind of service and product. If they were half as bored as he was with status quo in advertising, packaging design, consumer promotions, and merchandising materials in stores, he knew he would have an exciting, thriving business. He felt he was really in touch with people – he understood how they thought, how they felt and how they acted. Ernie felt different businesses require different solutions…but they all need an 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.
More recently, Ernie was Senior Creative Director and Co-Owner of Y & M Associates in Los Angeles, an agency 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.
Today, Ernie Cefalu is the owner and Senior Creative Director of HornBook Ink, where he is retained by four Fortune 100 companies as their in-house Creative Director, with Cott Beverage (the #1 non-name brand beverage company in the World), HSBC Financial, Chang Beer (Southeast Asia’s #1 Beer), Coca Cola and Energy Club being the most recent additions to Ernie’s client roster, and with the recent releases of new albums by Alice Cooper and Burton Cummings, this brings the total number of albums designed to date to over 210.