Vinyl Records That Play Cartoon Animations (And Music, Of Course)

Exploiting the most simple of phenomenon behind record players.

We’ve wasted so much time. For nearly a century now, we’ve been enjoying the modern record. And for all this time, we’ve missed out on the simplest of entertainments: staring at twirling animations on top of our vinyl.


Designer Michael Hansen has reimagined the old medium by printing special vinyl that’s covered in patterns. When the printed record spins, an LED strobe fires, creating a hypnotic effect that sits somewhere between a phenakistoscope and a clothes dryer.

To create this one-off piece, Hansen was “looking for a visual effect that had a kind of optical art touch.” He came across a Technics turntable that shines a red light across a field of rotating dots and was taken with the idea–so much so, that Hadsen expanded the concept by screen printing a custom design on each surface of the record. One side is a fairly literal interpretation of the Technics dots. The other is a more abstract 3-D play of geometrics. Apparently the print transfer is so thin that it doesn’t affect the sound quality of the vinyl.

As for now, the project is artisanal in nature, but there’s no reason that screen printing–the same technique used to duplicate everything from T-shirts to tote bags–couldn’t scale for wider manufacture. “We are currently considering doing some fundraising, and hopefully be able to release the vinyl in a larger amount of copies,” writes Hansen.

With the music industry’s recent resurgence of vinyl, coupled with the world’s ongoing obsession with custom screen prints, it seems that we could see a lot more of this idea before it dies out. You wouldn’t need an LED to create every type of animation. Imagine the potential of a mere black-and-white spiral. Add the thrill of the unpredictable cameo of a random red sock, and this whole TV fad could finally come to rest!


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.