The best album cover ever? The CD version of XTC’s Go2 album, originally designed by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis in 1978
With last Sunday’s Observer came The Observer Book of Rock and Pop (seems like a lot of publications are giving away nice little booklets right now, ahem ahem). In it, readers were treated to Storm Thorgerson’s views on the role of the album cover designer (including the rather honest self-assessment above)…
“As a designer, I’m completely amoral,” Thorgerson continued. “I don’t care about the money, the time or the energy it takes: it’s the design that matters. I don’t really care about people’s inconvenience.”
And by way of illustration, Thorgerson goes on to recount the story of the shoot for Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy album (shown below).
Thorgerson decided to shoot the cover on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland – a bizarre formation of basalt columns on the shoreline of the Irish Sea, not exactly noted for its barmy weather. “At 4am every morning for a week, three adults and two children were sprayed silver and gold from head to toe and driven to the location to await a glorious sunrise that never happened,” Thorgerson recalls. These days, he’d probably be had up for child abuse (and as for that cover image…)
Thorgerson is becoming quite fashionable again. He recently gave what we hear was an excellent lecture as part of the Howard Smith Paper series, organised by Browns, while his highly-conceptual, surrealist work stands the test of time far better than that of contemporaries such as Roger Dean.
But what of the attitude? Stick it to the man comments such as those above go down great at lectures full of other designers, but you can’t help wondering what it would be like to work with it. Diva-ish behaviour among designers and advertising creatives has long been indulged, but who really benefits? Getting creative work through is a fight, and only the strong-willed come out of it with their original ideas intact, but does the glorification of foot-stamping compromise professions that are desperately trying to get themselves taken more seriously? Or is it a necessary price to pay for working with a creative genius?