The “dark side Of The Moon” duvet clothier On The Making Of Iconic Rock Album art



 Aubrey Powell of legendary design collective Hipgnosis dishes on the making of basic album covers, from “properties of the Holy” to “soften.”  

Editor: Suzanne LaBarre


From 1972 to 1986, London-based totally images and design studio Hipgnosis—made of Aubrey “Po” Powell, Storm Thorgerson, and Peter Christopherson—created one of the most most recognizable album covers in rock song historical past. Their rainbow-through-a-prism photograph for pink Floyd’s “The dark aspect of the Moon” turned into an emblem of sorts for prog-heads, plastered on the T-shirts of Syd Barrett-worshipping teenagers to this day. From the gold-toned collage of children clamoring over the enormous’s Causeway on Led Zeppelin’s “houses of the Holy” to Peter Gabriel’s creepily disintegrating face on “soften,” Hipgnosis’s hallucinatory imagery used to be the visual similar of these bands’ maximalist riffs and psychedelic explorations.

10cc, London, 1976A. Powell, ©Hipgnosis
When Storm Thorgerson died final yr at age 69, Po Powell, now the ultimate residing member of the design collective, commenced to trawl throughout the Hipgnosis archives. He in a roundabout way compiled this treasure trove—together with unseen pictures of the Rolling Stones and of the unique massive’s Causeway shoot—into an epic new guide: Hipgnosispics, out this month from Thames & Hudson.

On the social gathering of the ebook’s free up, we caught up with Powell to discuss the genesis of some of 20th-century rock tune’s most iconic artwork. right here, Powell dishes on the design course of behind legendary covers like “The dark aspect of the Moon” and “homes of the Holy;” how Johnny Rotten and the digitization of music killed the album quilt; and which bands have been most tough to work with. Co.Design: How has the digitization of song affected the artwork of the album quilt? Aubrey Powell: in the Nineteen Seventies, the album cover was once what individuals looked at to get a visual resonance of their favourite band. Hipgnosis set to work on a fantastic 12-inch-by-12-inch canvas, or 24-through-12 if it was a gatefold. How privileged were we so to work that big, and to sell so many copies. “The dark side of the Moon” offered sixty four million copies. nowadays, with digital imagery, album covers are rarely considered at that giant scale or held as a tactile piece. Digital phenomena—downloading, streaming, YouTube—has, in a technique, utterly destroyed the album cover. there will at all times be music and visuals together—there all the time has been—however the digital has destroyed the relevance and prominence of the visible. When did this paradigm shift in quilt design commence? Powell: In 1976, we had our studio in London’s SoHo. underneath that studio was the sex Pistols’ studio. We got on very smartly. It was ahead of they have been well-known—God store the Queen got here out in 1977. The day i realized album covers have been over was when Johnny Rotten was once strolling down the hall sporting a T-shirt that stated “I hate crimson Floyd.” At that second, I knew covers were useless. There was a brand new enemy at the gates, and it was once the sex Pistols. Their quilt was once only a crimson card with bits of yellow newspaper stuck to it. I was once used to spending $50,000 on an album duvet, however revolution was within the air. When punk arrived, people needed to do one thing more streetwise, more working category, not so pretentious. Punk used to be very a lot the music of the man on the street. It had to do with impoverishment, in England, and now not that big prog rock sound of bands like Genesis, with enormous, maximalist album quilt ideas. Hipgnosis ran and made album covers unless 1986, however then we moved onto music movies.

Peter Gabriel, London, 1980A. Powell/P. Christopherson/S. Thorgerson, ©Peter Gabriel Ltd

How did you create Peter Gabriel’s “melt” duvet (1980)? Powell Peter Gabriel wished to be concerned within the process. He was very tactile. For the picture from soften, I confirmed Peter how, in these days, the chemical compounds in a Polaroid might be easily warped. in the event you immediately took a pencil after printing the image and started to maneuver the chemical substances around, it will probably disfigure and misshape picture. He preferred this concept for an album quilt. He was once very courageous—for a rockstar to allow his face to be disfigured was exceptional.

He got here to the studio, and we had 10 Polaroid cameras, and we all took footage of Peter and all received pencils and pushed across the chemical compounds on the images. He did it, too. Then we pinned all the warped Polaroid pictures to a wall, and i requested him which he preferred, and he said “That one, that’s the front cover.”

pink Floyd, The dark aspect of the MoonDesign Aubrey Powell/Hipgnosis (pink Floyd Ltd)

What was once the foundation for pink Floyd’s “The dark aspect of the Moon” quilt (1973)? Powell: We went to peer purple Floyd with a bunch of concepts for “The darkish side of the Moon,” however they all said “no, no more of those picture designs.” Richard Wright, the organist, mentioned, “come up with one thing simple, a simple photograph, like a chocolate field.” This was insulting to us, however we stated, “k, we’ll take into consideration it.” I used to be having a look via an old French e-book of early colour pictures from the ‘50s, and in this guide used to be a photograph of a prism on a section of sheet song and sunlight coming in in the course of the glass window. It used to be creating this rainbow effect. Storm said, “this is interesting. It sums up crimson Floyd. I’ve obtained it—we’ll do a triangle with a prism form coming thru it as a photograph, no longer as a photo.” “The dark side of the Moon” sold 65 million copies, which means that 1000000000 people have more than likely seen that picture.

Keith Moon, London, 1976S. Thorgerson, ©Hipgnosis

what is the story at the back of that photo of Keith Moon on a couch, naked but for a fur boa? Powell: We did various work for The Who—I’d identified Pete Townshend considering the fact that I used to be 20. They had been doing an immense live performance to optimum Quadrophenia, they usually wanted to have a live performance application a bit like a Playboy journal. They wanted to have a centerfold image of a unadorned Keith Moon, [drummer of The Who]. Storm went along to shoot the photograph. When he bought to the lodge, there was once an upturned chest of drawers sitting on the bed, and all of the garments inside of had been stuffed down the toilet bowl. Keith didn’t resolution any questions. He just took all his clothes off, put his lady friend’s fur boa over his non-public anatomy, and posed on the couch.

The Rolling Stones, London, 1973A. Powell, ©Hipgnosis

Which artists had been the most challenging shoppers as a designer and photographer, and what were they like to work with? Powell: The Rolling Stones had been one of the most challenging band to work with. What’s amazing about that pictures session [pictured] is that those negatives remained sealed in an envelope for forty five years. I opened that manila envelope closing yr, with sellotape utterly cracked. After Storm died, I’d determined to seem via all our old files. are you able to imagine what a treasure trove i found? there have been 156 pristine negatives and transparencies of the Stones, by no means revealed, by no means processed. They’d decided to make use of a photograph by David Bailey for the duvet of “Goat’s Head Soup” instead of ours. What I’m pleased about is I bought footage of the Stones in their top, once they seemed and had been their highest—the moment they’d launched “Brown Sugar.” they had a type of magnificence about them. Keith [Richards] looks like an extremely good-looking gypsy.

Led Zeppelin, houses of the HolyAubrey Powell/Hipgnosis (Mythgem Ltd)How did Hipgnosis create the cover for Led Zeppelin’s “homes of the Holy” (1973)? Powell: I acquired a telephone name from Jimmy page, asking if Hipgnosis used to be considering designing a canopy for “properties of the Holy.” I agreed, and requested to hear the tune and notice the lyrics. He said, “No, just turn up in a few weeks with some ideas.”

once we confirmed up, Storm and i principally simply had a sketch on a napkin. That’s how we did things in these days. now not very high-tech. The sketch was once from an concept that came from science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s novel At Childhood’s end. on the finish of the book, all of the youngsters in the world go up into house in a major column of gold fire. I drew that on a napkin and Jimmy web page loved the speculation. Then Robert Plant recommended we discover some “attention-grabbing rocks,” and i stated, “How about we go to the enormous’s Causeway in eire?” They gave us carte blanche to shoot there for as long as we needed, even if it could be dear. at the moment, bands had all the ingenious energy—more energy than file corporations. We went with a domestic—three adults, two youngsters, up on the rocks—and it poured rain for five days. It used to be absolutely depressing. I needed to make this cover phenomenal, but there was no probability of sunshine. The photographs we took have been in black and white, in the pouring rain.

eventually, I made up our minds to cut each and every particular person kid out from the more than a few black and white images and created a montage. I hand-tinted it in vivid orange and gold and red, wealthy colours, with 11 gorgeous kids operating up these octagonal rocks. The picture is completely made up. That’s the cover you buy in report outlets. I put the original black-and-white images in this guide as a result of no person’s ever viewed them earlier than. I’ll all the time understand that when I confirmed the ultimate quilt to Jimmy page within the car parking zone of a educate station in England as he used to be returning dwelling from tour. I opened up the automotive trunk, and there was once the paintings. He said, “that appears incredible—that thing will accumulate a crowd.” within 10 minutes, 200 individuals were gathered spherical, looking within the automotive trunk and at Jimmy web page, wearing all his finery with lengthy hair and a number of jewelry.


What was once the design course of like for Hipgnosis album covers on the whole? How much input did musicians have? Powell: every album duvet had a very distinctive design process. Working for Paul McCartney was very totally different from working for, say, crimson Floyd. What the working tactics had in fashionable was the bands all had a trust in us, a terrific belief that we would deliver one thing interesting to them. on the subject of our exact modus operandi, when working for Led Zeppelin, as an instance, we wouldn’t hear the music or lyrics or title of an album sooner than designing a canopy. i might existing an concept to Jimmy page and Robert Plant and they’d say sure, we like that, do it, they usually didn’t wish to see anything else unless it was once utterly completed. Paul McCartney, on the other hand, would have a title, tune, and lyrics for me to absorb prior to designing. we might exchange ideas for art—he’d tell me his and i’d inform him mine—and he’d say, “i like that idea of yours, and this one of mine,” and so I’d do each. And on the end, after I’d done each, he’d say, “I informed you my idea was better.” He’d almost at all times choose his idea.

What photography in this book do you affiliate with the most memorable experiences of your profession? Powell: [Shooting Paul McCartney in the Mojave Desert] was one of the most highest days of my life in photography. I’d organized to fulfill him with the aid of a salt lake under Mount Whitney. Paul arrived within the early morning, with essentially the most beautiful light. the photographs are very surreal, extra about the environment and the atmosphere than about him. He seems just a little like a mystic. It used to be courageous of him as a Beatle, after being photographed one million occasions, to permit me to do what i wanted and make extra of the panorama and less of him. Hipgnosisgraphics is on hand from Thames & Hudson here for $55.  

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