Art and Design for Music. Designer of iconic album covers and music-related graphics.




The Art of Hipgnosis

A fantastic new exhibition opened on 19 January at the iconic, highly colourful post-modernist Groninger Museum in Groningen in the northern Netherlands.

The Art of Hipgnosis is a celebration of the work of the art house-cum- design studio that played an integral part in my life back in the early 1970s and set me on my way to becoming an album cover designer.

© Groninger Museum, Groningen Photo: Erik en Petra Hesmerg 2014
Photo courtesy of Stian Brekke

Hipgnosis was formed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, chums who grew up in Cambridge along with their friends Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and David Gilmour who were to become the nucleus of Pink Floyd.

In 1968 Pink Floyd asked Po and Storm to come up with a design for the cover of their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, and from that one project followed countless commissions to design album art over the next fifteen years for a slew of bands and artistes including not only Pink Floyd but T.Rex, The Pretty Things, Black Sabbath, Paul McCartney and Wings, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Bad Company, Al Stewart, ELO, AC/DC, Genesis, Todd Rundgren, Alan Parsons and a host of others.

I joined Hipgnosis as their in-house graphics man in February 1973. In that same month two landmark albums came out bearing covers created by Hipgnosis – Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. I remember thinking at the time, hmm, I think I’m in the right place here!

The Art of Hipgnosis covers a vast amount of their work. Most of the colourful galleries focus on the various covers Hipgnosis created for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and Wings, 10cc and Peter Gabriel

Po and Storm called themselves Hipgnosis after they saw the word graffitied on their flat door by Syd Barrett. Hip = cool and groovy / Gnosis = Esoteric mystical knowledge
Led Zeppelin’s Presence album including the ‘object’
10cc Look Hear?, 1980 and Original Soundtrack, 1975
10cc’s 1976 album How Dare You with a roomful of people, including myself, all on the phone
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973. In the display case the artwork for the album.
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973
Paul McCartney and Wings Venus and Mars, 1975 and Wings Over America, 1976
Paul McCartney and Wings Wings Over America, 1976
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, 1975
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, 1975
The Hipgnosis studio in Denmark Street, Soho and in the cabinet Hipgnosis’s Pentax and Rolleiflex cameras plus my 50-year old DeVilbiss air brush in its case
14 Steps to making an album cover … 50 years ago. Illustrations that I created for the exhibition to show the various stages in designing an album cover. Standing in front, Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell.

The Art of the Album Cover is curated by Aubrey Powell

Co-curator and archivist: Paula Webb Stainton

Exhibition design by Peter Curzon

The Art of the Album Cover runs from 19 January to 14 May 2023

GRONINGER MUSEUM, Museumeiland 1, 9711 ME Groningen, Netherlands

Photographs by Paula Webb Stainton.

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