The artwork stands in stark contrast to the retro design of the album, with its elaborate romantic collages and the Victorian typeface. The look of “1979” is very much contemporary, i.e. 1990s. Paul Elledge’s cover photo shows the band members on rollerskates, posing in front of the neon sign of a “game room / party room” – apparently a reference to the front and back covers of Linda Ronstadt’s Living In The U.S.A. The photography uses a combination of long-exposure plus flash, resulting in an aesthetic that is reminiscent of the spontaneousness and embraced imperfection of lomography. The extrawide techno typeface is Mata. The only published typeface design by Greg Samata was released with T-26 in 1995.
Both the Mellon Collie album art and the “1979” single were designed by Frank Olinsky. When Olinsky asked band leader Billy Corgan why he had chosen him, “he said he owned quite a few CDs that I had art directed/designed and he liked that I didn’t have one style that I imposed on all my projects. Rather, he felt that each was a good design that fit the particular recording.” [2009 interview] These releases are a case in point.