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Peter Christopherson: 1955-2010

Graphic Design, Photography

Posted by Gavin Lucas, 26 November 2010, 16:34    Permalink    Comments (12)

Photographer, music video director, musician and former partner at design company Hipgnosis, Peter Christopherson, sadly passed away on Wednesday in his home in Bangkok, Thailand, aged 55...

Leeds-born Christopherson, who was affectionately known as Sleazy, is probably best known as a member of the band Throbbing Gristle, although before his musical career, he was a commercial artist, designer and photographer. He was a partner at Hipgnosis - he joined  Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell as an assistant in the mid 70s, becoming a full partner in 1980 and contributed to the design and artwork of several Hipgnosis covers including Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd and he is credited with the sole art direction of Peter Gabriel's first three LPs:

Peter Gabriel, Car, 1977

Peter Gabriel, Scratch 1978

Peter Gabriel, Melt, 1980

"Peter had a habit of surprising Storm and me with his particular outlook on life," recalls Hipgnosis' Aubrey Powell in the 2008 book For The Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis. "Hipgnosis were once asked to design a cover for Paul McCartney for his album Tug Of War," he continues. "You couldn’t find a more conservative fellow in the album cover department than Paul McCartney yet, knowing this, Peter presented a picture, beautifully crafted, of a man hanging himself, surrounded in gold leaf, in the style of Gustav Klimt. Paul said politely, “Just not my image.” Pity, as it would have been a brave move. I think I got a bit of stick too, for being audacious enough to show that idea to Paul."

As well as working as part of Hipgnosis, Christopherson also art directed several sleeves in his own right, such as the sleeves for A Certain Ratio's To Each... on Factory Records:

and Dave Bell's In Strict Tempo:

As a freelance photographer, Christopherson took the first promo photographs of the Sex Pistols in 1976 – and in 1977 he created a highly controversial window display for Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood's King's Road clothing boutique, SEX. He also designed the logo of fashion label BOY:

And as a music video director he shot well over 40 promos for the likes of Nine Inch nails, Paul McCartney, 10cc Erasure, The The, Van Halen, Jah Wobble, Sepultura, Robert Plant, Rage Against The Machine, Rollins Band and Björn Again.

Above, Christopherson's video for Coil's cover of Tainted Love

Chritopherson's musical output also deserves a mention. He was a member of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Coil. HIs photography and visual input featured in the record sleeves of those different bands. His Wikepedia entry will tell you more about his various musical outpourings:

Artist and designer John Coulthart wrote a nice tribute to Christopherson on his blog -

And Christopherson's fellow Throbbing Gristle band members, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter released a fitting obituary through record label Mute which outlined his impressively creative career and ended with the words: "Peter was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he will be missed." Read the full obituary at



Peter loved poop. RIP.
Genesis P-Orridge
2010-11-26 18:26:28

as one of the most vital contributors to the development of modern music over the last three and a half decades, his music deserves more than a mention. but can he compete for obituary space with bernard matthews?
2010-11-26 23:38:37

music makes its way to hEAvEns.. the first time I heard Coil, it sounded strangely familiar.. like 'home'. ThX a 1011 times pIER h7
pierre huet
2010-11-27 07:56:43

To me , Peter 's work , both visually and musically , was quite disturbing , but in a beautiful matter that made me question what life is really all about , even if I didn't agree with some the ideas he had in his art and lyrics . Goodbye Sleazy , sadly , in this day and age , there will be nobody like you ( or your kind ) to challenge the norm .
Tracy Murray
2010-11-28 00:14:52

Wow! This work is very interesting
Linzella T
2010-11-29 10:50:46

Had the chance a couple of years ago to view and Meet Storm in Vancouver. His first exhibition
for some time. Put on the VIP list and missed out seeing the exhibition. Moral here is always put yourself out, because you may never get a second chance to see real talent. Amazing work, more poignant as I used to deliver art to Hipgnosis back in the seventies when I was a studio messenger. The way people started out in the industry.
Jim Watters
2010-11-30 13:08:39

I loved this man's stuff... he will be greatly missed..... GEORGE
GEORGE VRANJKOVIC (@GeorgeV69 on Twitter))
2010-11-30 14:21:57

Peter was a true gentleman, creative genius, and very kind. He encouraged my writing and was a pleasure to work with. I am very sad.
Chrissie JT Wilson
2010-12-05 02:46:29

I remember Peter from 70's when I worked as AD at Polydor. We dreaded the others in the studio but he was as the polite and acceptable face of Hipgnosis when he came to Straford Place anytime. RIP and thanks Peter. Time travels to quick. Vincent
Vincent McEvoy
2010-12-07 09:34:23

Peter was derivative and boring.

2011-01-17 03:00:00

In 1978 I marched into Hipgnosis, admiring their work, and asked to be taken on as apprentice. Peter told me all I needed to do was practice w/ an airbrush. But, by the way, would I like to date? Perhaps my being fresh from America was exotic. Perhaps he was Sleazy.
We did date for a bit. Didn't really click. Still, he took me to TG concerts,visited me at my Brixton junkie block of flats and looked at my portfolio,had me to his house & shared his story w/ me. A gentleman, if weird. When we said goodbye, there was no rancor on either part.
And now I read of his death and "say" goodbye him and to an exciting part of my youth (we were the same age). An interesting, influential honorable man. RIP
David B. Wright
2011-05-11 20:41:10

i went to school with peter...I am so shocked...he swapped his who tommy album for photos of me as an athletic young man...even then his skills as a photographer were well noted ( at school)..we spoke ages ago...well he leaves a huge record of his work for others t admire..RIP Chris
mike chubb
2014-01-24 18:02:30

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