Hipgnosis - Behind the Most Iconic Album Covers in History
Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Although you may not recognize the name, if you are a fan of music, you have seen the works of Hipgnosis and artist Storm Thorgerson many times throughout your life.
Hipgnosis were a collective of visual artists working out of London, England from the late 1960s to early 1980s, specializing in creating album art for rock bands and solo artists. Among these artists were two chief individuals; Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell. They were known for a photographic, yet surreal and quirky design style, as can be seen in many of their works. They frequently incorporated visual puns into their covers, which may go unnoticed by many without closer inspection.
From Pink Floyd to Black Sabbath to Electric Light Orchestra to Led Zeppelin, the group created some of the most iconic album covers of all time. Using their realistic but surreal design motif, many of their clients found their most iconic visual pieces from this group of artists.
Some key examples of their work include Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, T.Rex's Electric Warrior, Electric Light Orchestra's ELO 2, and Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
The Men Behind The Art
Perhaps one of the most prolific album art graphic designers of all time, Storm Thorgerson created some of Hipgnosis' most iconic pieces throughout their fifteen year span.
Among his principle pieces are Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon (along with most of their discography), Black Sabbath's Technical Ecstacy, and Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs.
Thorgerson's graphic design work continued on for the rest of his life until his death in 2013. His latter works include albums such as Muse's Absolution, Mars Volta's Frances the Mute, Pink Floyd's The Division Bell, and Audioslave's self-titled album.
Thorgerson also made several directorial ventures, directing several famous music videos, such as Yes' Owner of a Lonely Heart, Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's Big Log, and Pink Floyd's High Hopes.
Thorgerson's works have gone down in rock history as some of the most iconic pieces of visual media of the genre of all time. Working consistently in particular with Pink Floyd allowed Thorgerson to create some of the most iconic pieces of rock art of all time.
The second half of the two primary artists associated with Hipgnosis, Aubrey Powell also created some of the most iconic pieces of the group's bibliography.
Among his chief works are Pink Floyd's Animals, 10cc's How Dare You, and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy and Presence.
Powell would go on with fellow Hipgnosis affiliate Peter Christopherson to work in the advertising world, founding a production company which produced many commercials for clients such as Coca Cola, Nissan, and Pan Am throughout the 1980s.
Hipgnosis was solely responsible in their short fifteen year span for some of the most iconic pieces of album art of all time. The associated artists dedicated their lives to their craft beyond that short span, but in that period of time, the collaboration between these artists served to create some of the most unforgettable pieces of artwork in music history.
We're back on a regular schedule now that we are settled in our new home of Toronto, we'll be alternating blog posts and videos every Wednesday once again. Thank you all for your patience, and stay tuned for plenty more Populus Music content as we continue to gain our ground in one of the musical capitals of Canada.