Hipgnosis


Hipgnosis

Hipgnosis was a British art design group that specialized in creating cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands, most notably Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, 10CC and The Alan Parsons Project. Hipgnosis consisted primarily of Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell, and later, Peter Christopherson. The group dissolved in 1983, but Thorgerson still works on album designs.

History

In 1968 Thorgerson and Powell were asked by their friends in Pink Floyd if they were interested in designing the cover for their second album, "A Saucerful of Secrets". They were, and did additional work for EMI, including photos and album covers for Free, Toe Fat and The Gods. Being film and art school students, they were able to use the darkroom at the Royal College of Art, but when they completed school, they had to set up their own facilities. They built a small darkroom in Powell's bathroom, but shortly thereafter, in early 1970, rented space and built a studio.

When first starting out, Powell and Thorgerson adopted their name from graffiti they found on the door to their apartment. They liked the word, not only for sounding like "hypnosis," but for combining two somewhat contradictory terms, "hip", or new and cool, with "gnosis," relating to ancient learning.

Hipgnosis got its big break in 1973, with the cover for Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". The final design was one of a number laid out for the band to choose from. According to drummer Nick Mason, it was the immediate and unanimous choice. The record itself was wildly successful, which put it in the hands of millions of fans, and it has since been hailed as one of the best album covers of all time (VH1 rated the cover as #4, in 2003). After that, the firm became in-demand, and did many covers for high-profile bands and artists such as Led Zeppelin, Genesis, UFO, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, and The Alan Parsons Project. They also designed the cover for the original UK paperback edition of Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

Peter Christopherson joined Hipgnosis as an assistant in 1974, and later became a full partner. The firm employed many assistants and other staff members over the years. Of particular note were freelance artists George Hardie, Colin Elgie, Richard Evans and Richard Manning.

One notable fact was that Hipgnosis did not have a set fee for designing an album cover but instead asked the artists to "pay what they thought it was worth," a policy that only occasionally backfired according to Thorgerson in his book on album cover design.

Style

Hipgnosis' approach to album design was strongly photography-oriented, and they pioneered the use of many innovative visual and packaging techniques. In particular, Thorgerson & Powell's surreal, elaborately manipulated photos (utilizing darkroom tricks, airbrush retouching, and mechanical cut-and-paste techniques) were a film-based forerunner of what would, much later, be called photoshopping. Hipgnosis used primarily Hasselblad medium format cameras for their work, the square film format being especially suited to album cover imagery.

Another Hipgnosis trademark was that many of their cover photos told "stories" directly related to the album's lyrics, often based on puns or double meanings of words in the album title. Since both Powell and Thorgerson were film students, they often used models as "actors" and staged the photos in a highly theatrical manner. Hipgnosis covers rarely featured artists' photos on the outside, and most were in a gatefold cover format to provide ample space for their slickly photographed tableaux.

Many of Hipgnosis' covers also featured distinctively "high tech" pen and ink logos and illustrations (often by graphic designer George Hardie), stickers, fancy inner sleeves, and other packaging goodies.

Catalogue of work

*"10cc"
**1974, "Sheet Music"
**1975, "The Original Soundtrack"
**1976, "How Dare You!"
**1977, "Deceptive Bends"
**1978, "Bloody Tourists"
**1979, "Greatest Hits 1972-1978"
**1980, "Look Hear?"

*"The Alan Parsons Project"
** 1976, "Tales of Mystery and Imagination"
** 1977, "I Robot"
** 1978, "Pyramid"
** 1979, "Eve"
** 1982, "Eye in the Sky"

*"Audience"
**1971, "House on the Hill"
**1972, "Lunch"
**1973, "You Can't Beat 'em"

*"Bad Company"
**1974, "Bad Company"
**1975, "Straight Shooter"
**1977, "Burnin' Sky"
**1979, "Desolation Angels"
**1982, "Rough Diamonds"

*"Syd Barrett"
**1970, "The Madcap Laughs"
**1974, "Syd Barrett"

*"Black Sabbath"
**1976, "Technical Ecstasy"
**1978, "Never Say Die!"

*"Blue Mink"
**1972, "A Time of Change"
**1974, "Fruity"

*"Brand X"
**1976, "Unorthodox Behaviour"
**1977, "Moroccan Roll"
**1979, "Product"
**1980, "Do They Hurt?"

*"Roger Cook"
**1972, "Meanwhile...Back at the World"
**1973, "Minstrel in Flight"

*"Edgar Broughton Band"
**1971, "Edgar Broughton Band"
**1972, "Inside Out"
**1973, "Oora"
**1975, "A Bunch of 45s"
**1979, "Parlez-Vous English" (as The Broughtons)

*"Electric Light Orchestra"
** 1971, "The Electric Light Orchestra"
** 1973, "ELO 2"
** 1973, "On the Third Day"
** 1977, "The Light Shines On"

*"Peter Gabriel"
**1977, "Peter Gabriel (I)" (aka "Car")
**1978, "Peter Gabriel (II)" (aka "Scratch")
**1980, "Peter Gabriel (III)" (aka "Melt")

*"Genesis"
** 1974, "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"
** 1976, "A Trick of the Tail"
** 1977, "Wind & Wuthering"
** 1978, "...And Then There Were Three..."

*"The Gods"
** 1968, "Genesis"
** 1969, "To Samuel A Son"

*"The Greatest Show on Earth"
** 1970, "Horizons"
** 1970, "The Going's Easy"
** 1975, "The Greatest Show on Earth"

*"Sammy Hagar"
**1977, "Sammy Hagar"
**1977, "Musical Chairs"

*"Roy Harper"
** 1973, "Lifemask"
** 1974, "Valentine"
** 1974, "Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion"
** 1975, "HQ"
** 1977, "Bullinamingvase"

*"Led Zeppelin"
**1973, "Houses of the Holy"
**1976, "The Song Remains the Same"
**1976, "Presence"
**1979, "In Through the Out Door"
**1982, "Coda"

*"The Nice"
**1970, "Five Bridges"
**1971, "Elegy"
**1972, "Autumn '67 - Spring '68"

*"Pink Floyd"
**1968, "A Saucerful of Secrets"
**1969, "Ummagumma"
**1970, "Atom Heart Mother"
**1971, "Meddle"
**1972, "Obscured by Clouds"
**1973, "The Dark Side of the Moon"
**1974, "A Nice Pair"
**1975, "Wish You Were Here"
**1977, "Animals" (Designed by Roger Waters - set up and photographed by Aubrey Powell.)
**1981, "A Collection of Great Dance Songs"
**1987, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason"
**1988, "Delicate Sound of Thunder"
**1994, "The Division Bell"
**1995, "P•U•L•S•E"

*"The Pretty Things"
**1970, "Parachute"
**1972, "Freeway Madness"
**1974, "Silk Torpedo"
**1975, "Savage Eye"
**1975, "S.F. Sorrow / Parachute", double reissue (UK version only)
**1980, "Cross Talk"

*"Quatermass"
**1970, "Quatermass"

*"Rainbow"
**1981, "Difficult to Cure"
**1982, "Straight Between the Eyes"

*"Renaissance"
**1972, "Prologue"
**1973, "Ashes Are Burning"
**1974, "Turn of the Cards"
**1975, "Scheherazade and Other Stories "
**1978, "A Song for All Seasons"

*"Scorpions"
**1979, "Lovedrive"
**1980, "Animal Magnetism"

*"Al Stewart"
**1973, "Past, Present and Future"
**1975, "Modern Times"
**1976, "Year of the Cat"
**1977, "The Early Years"
**1978, "Time Passages"

*"Toe Fat"
**1970, "Toe Fat"
**1971, "Toe Fat 2"

*"UFO"
**1974, "Phenomenon"
**1975, "Force It"
**1976, "No Heavy Petting"
**1977, "Lights Out"
**1978, "Obsession"
**1979, "Strangers In The Night"
**1980, "No Place to Run"
**1981, "The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent"

*"Wings"
**1975, "Venus and Mars"
**1976, "Wings at the Speed of Sound"
**1976, "Wings over America"

*"Wishbone Ash"
**1971, "Pilgrimage"
**1972, "Argus"
**1973, "Wishbone Four"
**1973, "Live Dates"
**1974, "There's the Rub"
**1976, "New England"
**1977, "Front Page News"
**1978, "No Smoke Without Fire"
**1980, "Just Testing"

*"Yes"
**1977, "Going for the One"
**1978, "Tormato"

*"Alphabet City", ABC, 1987
*"Cochise", Cochise, 1970
*"Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air", Harvest Records compilation, 1970
*"Electric Warrior", T. Rex, 1971
*"Tightly Knit", Climax Blues Band, 1971
*"Tear Gas", Tear Gas, 1971
*"Stackridge (album)", "Stackridge 1971
* "Music from Free Creek", compilation, 1973
*"Thunderbox", Humble Pie, 1974
*"Jab It in Yore Eye", Sharks, 1974
*"Uno", Uno, 1974
*"Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias", Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, 1975
*"Cunning Stunts", Caravan, 1975
*"Wheelin 'n' Dealin"', Sassafras, 1975
*"First Starring Role", Bob Sargeant, 1975
*"Rush", Strife, 1975
*"The Winkies", The Winkies, 1975
*"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", AC/DC, 1976
*"Jump On It", Montrose, 1976
*"Quark, Strangeness and Charm", Hawkwind, 1977
*"Live!", Status Quo, 1977
*"Deadlines", Strawbs, 1977
*"Caught Live + 5", The Moody Blues, 1977
*"Wet Dream", Richard Wright, 1978
*"David Gilmour", David Gilmour, 1978
*"Pieces of Eight", Styx, 1978
*"Back to the Bars", Todd Rundgren, 1978
*"Go 2", XTC, 1978
*"Laughing in the Dark", Pezband, 1978
*"No More Fear of Flying", Gary Brooker, 1979
*"Live Herald", Steve Hillage, 1979
*"Freeze Frame", Godley & Creme, 1979
*"Danger Money", UK, 1979
*"Mick Taylor", Mick Taylor, 1979
*"Fictitious Sports", Nick Mason, 1981
*"Fun in Space", Roger Taylor, 1981
*"High 'n' Dry", Def Leppard, 1981
*"Sakuban oai shimasho", Yumi Matsutoya, 1981
*"Tug of War", Paul McCartney, 1982
*"Trilogy", Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1973

References

* [http://pinkfloydhyperbase.dk/who/h.htm The Pink Floyd who's who]
* [http://www.sound.jp/hipgnosis/yapwall/yhip.html Partial List of Hipgnosis Works]
* [http://www.stormthorgerson.com/ Storm Thorgerson's official website]


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