The designers behind music’s most iconic album art

A new photo book is presenting the entire Hipgnosis catalogue together for the first time, featuring all 373 of their famed, pre-digital cover designs

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Hipgnosis – Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art
Pink Floyd, “Ummagumma” (1969)Photography: A. Powell/S. Thorgerson © Pink Floyd Music Ltd

When someone brings up Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, it’s hard not to be reminded of the greatness of the album’s cover.

The famed 1973 sleeve brought major international recognition to Hipgnosis, the London-based collective responsible for the now-iconic prism design. The English trio – comprised of Aubrey ‘PO’ Powell, Storm Thorgerson and Peter Christopherson – were almost single-handedly responsible for an industry-wide shift in artwork aesthetic; the group shunned covers comprised of static, group shots, choosing instead to go with abstract, surrealist imagery and DIY design.

Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art., a new book published by Thames & Hudson, celebrates the collective’s work from their 14-year tenure between 1968 – 1982. The book presents the Hipgnosis catalogue together in its entirety for the first time ever, featuring all 373 of their celebrated, pre-digital designs. During their height, the group were collaborating with some of music’s most iconic names, including the likes of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, The Police, Genesis, Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney – as well as the aforementioned Pink Floyd.

Speaking to Dazed Digital in 2014, Powell – the only surviving member of the celebrated trio – explained: “The Beatles started by just having portraits of themselves on album covers, and then along came Sergeant Pepper which was so radically different and everybody went: ‘you know what? If they can do it we can do it’. From then on in it was fair game.

“If you look at Peter Gabriel, the Melt cover, which is a Polaroid treated with a pencil just rubbed all over it to create these really rather unpleasant images. How brave of Peter Gabriel to have his image distorted so badly – disfigured so badly – and put on the front of an album cover? For us, it was fantastic!”

The book’s artworks are accompanied by a commentary courtesy of Powell and Thorgerson, as well as long-form pieces from Peter Gabriel, Marcus Bradbury and Pentagram's Harry Pearce.

Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art will be published on 13 April by Thames & Hudson

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