How I Got Here: Andy Vella

This week, CR is focusing on creativity in music. Here, The Cure’s long-term designer and creative partner talks about making work from scratch, why mistakes are what makes design great, and how he created the Just Like Heaven Cover with $30 of potatoes

If you’ve got anything by The Cure in your record collection, chances are it was designed by Andy Vella, who’s been creating covers for the band since the 1980s and is responsible for some of their best-known album artwork – including Disintegration, The Head on the Door and Faith.

His work is often imbued with a sense of dreaminess, characterised by blurry photographs and abstract imagery, which crop up time and again on his album sleeves. As well as The Cure, Vella has designed records for artists including St Vincent, The Rolling Stones and Pavement, and created book covers for Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer and John Berger. His firm belief in craft and process means much of his work is handmade, with Vella often going to extreme lengths – including designing and hand-distressing his own money for the Sex Pistols, and meticulously icing a cardboard cake for XFM.

We met him at the Southbank Centre during Robert Smith’s Meltdown festival – which Vella’s created a series of limited edition prints for – to discuss 30 years of working with The Cure, why leaving things to chance is essential, and how one album cover cost him the most expensive potatoes of his life.