A designer that I admire is Storm Thorgerson. Storm was an English graphic designer and video director known for his famous designs created for Pink Floyd and other major artists of the time. He was also the co-founder of design studio Hipgnosis. It was here where he created many iconic album covers.
Here are some notable works:
- Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
- Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
- Led Zeppelin – Presence
- Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon – Album Cover
I find his design work inspiring because it spans across many different styles, each time creating a piece that penetrated pop culture. On a technical level Throgerson’s works have been described as having a heavy influence of surrealism and psychedelia. Most important to me though is that the imagery he created didn’t rely on computer enhancement. Most of his designs were actually shot how they appear. For example, the man on fire in Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, was actually on fire. Here is a quote from Storm Thorgerson on his ideas around photography:
“ I like photography because it is a reality medium, unlike drawing which is unreal. I like to mess with reality… to bend reality. Some of my works beg the question of is it real or not?”
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – Album Cover
Storm and his partners created huge or tiny models, traveled to remote locations, and put models in unusual situations to capture the perfect shot. This style of work really resonates with me. I’ve always had a belief that the best work is when you’re getting your hands dirty. I love to do site photography or create a set rather than develop aspects in post. There’s something special about capturing an actual moment.
Elegy – The Nice – Album Cover
A huge part of Storm’s process was interfacing with the artists he was designing for. Him and his team at Hipgnosis would sit down and have long conversations with bands to identify their vision. Most of the time the conversations wouldn’t have anything to do with the album cover. He was simply looking for the vibe the band was in and what the music meant to them.
Led Zeppelin – Presence – Album Cover
Audioslave – Audioslave – Album Cover
Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy – Album Cover
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy – Album Cover
Phish – Slip Stich & Pass – Album Cover
I’m a big Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and I never knew that there was one main designer responsible for some of my favorite album covers. How did you find out that Strom was the creator of these covers because it does not seem to be common knowledge? I think its really cool how he would sit down and talk to the artists and have meaningful conversations to get motivation on his work.
Hi Grady, I didn’t know the artist behind these famous album covers before your post. It’s amazing how a graphic design or photograph could be one of the most impactful pieces of art for the time. Even now people walk around with graphic tees featuring Storm’s work, probably, like me, completely unaware of the artist. It can be a shame though that the most famous of Storm Thorgerson’s art is completely tied to Pink Floyd, he should get much more recognition.