Design for music
The allure of creative freedom, public recognition and the joy of walking into a record shop anywhere in the country and seeing your own work, makes album cover design a graphic designers dream job. The days of the 12" double gate fold album offered a huge landscape for designers, now the reality is often a condensed digital download icon. The forerunner to Navig8, The Design Corps was established in the music industry back in the 90s. Let's look at the world's most iconic album covers and the designers behind them.
The man behind some of the most iconic album covers, so much so he gets two articles, is Storm Thorgerson. With a name sounding more like a Viking invader than an English graphic designer this guy created masterpieces long before photoshop.
Above is Thorgerson's cover for Biffy Clyro's Only Revolutions Album. In an interview with the band he said "Well, a lot of the bands we work with tend to have a mind of their own, which is of course very annoying."
Can it be more abstract?
Thorgerson is best known for his work for Pink Floyd but he also worked with a diverse range of artists, including the band Toe Fat. Perhaps the most famous cover was for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon considered one of the greatest album's of all time, the cover is considered in the same vain.
"I prefer the computer in my head to the one on my desk." Storm Thorgerson.
He died in 2013 working to the end.
At the other end of the scale, anarchist andSituationist designer Jamie Ried wrote a ranson note to the world with his cover for the Sex Pistol's first and famous album, Never Mind the Bollocks, here's the Sex Pistols. Like the music, this cover is in your face, stripped back and throws two fingers up to the establishment. Perhaps almost as iconic was his artwork for God Save the Queen. Amazing what a bit of cut and paste can do.
It was 21 years today
At the time, Sir Peter Blake's cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the most expensive of all time. Apparently he got paid three grand; in 1967 that was a lot of money. Hitler, Christ and Gandhi didn't make the final shot. The oddest 'participant' must be Sonny Liston who said of Ringo Starr "My dog drums better than that guy". Blake is still going strong and is a master of montage. Art advice; buy his work now.
Peter Saville made his name designing for the Factory club in Manchester.
Saville was apparently paid £20k to design Peter Gabriels So album cover. The result is not a patch on Mr Thorgerson's eponymous Peter Gabriel album cover, in our opinion. Nonetheless this image still features on the front of many disaffected youth's t-shirt.
Andy Warhol's cover for the Velvet Underground & Nico, who know's who Nico is, may only be iconic because it was designed by Mr Warhol. The original copies have a peel back skin to reveal a 'pink bananna' - make of that what you will. The album made Rolling Stone's Top 500 albums ranked at 13. When the album was released it was a bit of a flop, make of that what you will.
The best of the rest
There are so many great album covers and I can't cover them all in this email, but it has to be said, this cover from the reformed drug addict Freddie Gage wins as the best of the rest. If any album cover does what is says on the tin, this does it. To quote Mr Gage "The tragic end of each life recorded in All My Friends Are Dead is true."
I've searched to find a link to his songs for you, but no luck so far. If you have the album, let me know.