In the world of rock music sleeve art, one artist’s name can be found cropping up time and again: Storm Thorgerson. His graphic design companies Hipgnosis and Storm Studios were responsible for so many instantly recognisable pieces of art. Some of them are now so much part of popular culture, they are almost taken for granted by music lovers.
Born in Middlesex, Thorgerson was a teenage friend of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and it is for his work with Floyd the artist will always be most associated. From the iconic prism adorning the front of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, to the simple shot of a cow turning on the gatefold sleeve of ‘Atom Heart Mother’, to the endless desert of beds leading us into ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’, Thorgerson’s work became an integral part of the Pink Floyd experience.
He was the man behind the various photos of a mysterious effigy adorning Led Zeppelin’s ‘Presence’;he placed their final album in a brown bag; he made Peter Gabriel’s face melt and left us bewilderingly sexist imagery covering Scorpions records. His works branched out into other generations too – with Rene Magritte imagery found in early Bruce Dickinson promo clips, while his distinctive blend of surrealism and strong primary colours made records by Biffy Clyro, The Mars Volta and Dream Theater stand out on record shop shelves the world over.
From casual listeners to obsessive musical boffins, it’s almost certain you’ll live in a house containing at least one piece of Storm Thorgerson artwork. Some of those sleeves will stand up long after some of the music contained within has become a relic of generations past… The world of the album cover will never be the same again.
Below, Thorgerson talks about working with Pink Floyd and Scorpions.