Posts Tagged ‘Adrenalize’

20. DEF LEPPARD – Part Six

February 19, 2010

Well, here we go with the last DEF LEPPARD blog – though I’m sure they’ll crop up again later. Promise.

‘Euphoria’ …

Euphoria‘ was a difficult one, but challenge is always welcomed and usually beneficial. I hadn’t worked with the guys for seven years. They’d decided to use another graphic designer after ‘Adrenalize’, which is entirely their prerogative of course. When it first happened to me – a band using a new designer – I was upset and probably a little defensive too. You soon realise though – not to take it personally. With experience you learn to understand that a combination of factors contributes to the decision. Things change that’s all – priorities, record labels, management, trends, record sales and visual styles. Change is the one thing that’s inevitable and should be embraced.

Of course, I was disappointed. I’d worked with DEF LEPPARD throughout their phenomenal rise to fame, sharing exciting, tragic and amazing times, so I knew I would miss working with them enormously. It sounds cleched I know, but  after working with them for so long and enjoying it so much, it took a while to adjust to – professionally and emotionally. It’s strange though – writing the blog about working with the band made me realise there were things I probably didn’t fully appreciate at the time. The ease of the way the design process worked with the band on ‘Pyromania’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Adrenalize’ was, in some ways, taken for granted. Now, in retrospect, I see what a fortunate and mutually creative experience it was for all of us.

In 1998 I was asked to do ‘Euphoria’. I knew it was going to be tough. I’d checked out the interim releases – ‘Retro Active’ (a collection of ‘B’-sides and unreleased material from 1983/4) ‘Vault’, (their first collection of greatest hits) and ‘Slang’ (a serious musical departure) and the artwork for each was as disparate as the three albums. ‘Euphoria’, we all felt, had to re-establish some ground rules. The band had returned to its classic sound with the album and it was logical to do the same with the graphics – back to basics so to speak. We decided, almost from the beginning, to pare right down and concentrate on their iconic (and established) logo.

To introduce the new look, I worked on a promo CD. It was simple and retrospective but contemporary too. Crucially it was a ‘classic’ design reflecting the content of the CD. I still like this cover for many reasons. It’s apparent simplicity is deceptive. Although it’s essentially an exercise in typography, every aspect of it was considered very carefully – the spaces between every single letter (remember ‘kerning’ in ’11. DEAD OR ALIVE – Part One’?) were adjusted, especially in the title; the gradation of colour adds dimension to an otherwise flat image and the three components are perfectly balanced and placed. The title typefaces, using heavy and light versions of the same typeface works well to define the play on words of ‘DEF’ and ‘DEFINITIVE’. I see this style used everywhere now …

… in our interwebworld where spaceshavebecomeredundant

and words need to be separated visually without them.


The CD sleeve presented the logo as a three-dimensional lenticular image. Different versions of the image were combined to create the CD booklet cover. This is how the printed CD cover looks outside its customised case …

Inside its lenticular CD case the image sharpens, and the logo and the ‘lightbursts’ are animated. Here, unfortunately, I can only show you one of the several images which appear when the case is flipped back and forth – creating the animated effect …

I can understand why, after three strong image-based album designs, that this cover appears somewhat simplistic and I do understand Roland’s ‘comment’ – ‘Pyromania, great, Hysteria, genius ! Euphoria did really suck tho, nothing a 5 year old can’t do with Photoshop.’ (thanks Roland!) – but 15 years after the first designs, considerations were very different. As I’ve said before, when vinyl virtually disappeared, I found the CD cover size and format inhibiting and frustrating. A 12-inch square provided a canvas to be experimentally creative – allowing additional, interesting and detailed elements of design to be included – giving the sleeve depth and providing fans opportunity to explore different levels of artwork.

Imagine these classic vinyl sleeves being created for a 5-inch format. I don’t think so …

Because of the limited size of the CD format the design had to be more direct. As frustrating as it was it had to be a major consideration. The concept of using the emblematic logo carried through into the inner packaging. The CD insert opened out to a six-panel (28-inch wide) design, using the logo as a background to five of them. It was very satisfying creating that kind of scale within such a small packaging format – a yearning I guess for the luxury of designing for 12-inch vinyl …

Euphoria’ sold 100,000 units in its first week of release and the single ‘Promises’ (co-written by former producer, John ‘Mutte’ Lange) topped the US Billboard charts, a position the band hadn’t acheived for over six years …

… and the design concept was developed for the single releases, again bold and simple was the essence …

In 2001 I worked on a double DVD release which involved using elements from all four albums I’d created. It was a great project to work on and very enjoyable. Not only was it a history of DEF LEPPARD’s amazing achievements – it was also a condensed archive of the artwork I’d done for them.

Where to from here?

Well, Joe’s said to me …‘We’ll get you involved in the box set (if we ever do one!!) … I hope ……’  and record companies are beginning to release music in a new format – Edition Box Sets with innovative packaging and content. It would be an ideal opportunity to showcase some of the art and sketches – the stuff you all raved about on the blog …


After so long it would be cool to include stuff ‘never before seen’. It’s an over-used phrase but in this case it would be true. The guys certainly deserve something totally original – and so do the fans. Also from all the comments and e-mails from DEF LEPPARD fans on the blog, I know I have serious support. In the incredibly perceptive and discerning words of Stephie (!?) … ‘I always thought the Pyromania and Hysteria covers were unique and ahead of their time. They were nothing like the other band’s cover art and they always stood out. I wish you were still designing DL’s cover art. Perhaps on the next?’

Let’s see. It’s certainly something I’d love to do. I’ll keep you informed of progress. I’m still seriously considering an exhibition and publishing a book of all the art and the various components. What do you think?

Don’t disappear all you DEF LEPPARD fans! The blog will now move on from The Boyz (for now) but I promise you what follows will be fun and entertaining. There will be a Design Summary soon and, for those of you interested in the design process – you’ll be astonished how much you’ve learnt.

NEXT: Paul McCartney and The Mouse.

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