From the first opportunity I had to design an album sleeve, with no knowledge of graphics whatsoever, I instinctively knew it would be an extreme and exciting experience. Thirty years on, the extremes and the challenges thankfully remain.
Many things have changed; the music industry, the introduction of computers and digital recordings, the means to communicate ideas over vast distances in the blink of an e-mail, even the relevance of sleeve design in the music download age.
Some over-riding positive factors remain however; the search for innovation and challenge, impossible deadlines, and most importantly of all – the joyous idiosyncracies of the musicians I work for and the characters who inhabit their world.
I have never felt the need to promote or encourage a particular style in graphics – only a need to communicate with musicians to find a solution which satifies my appetite for experimentation and their very real need to be represented visually in a way which complements their music and their talent. I suppose what I have always worked for is to be comfortable with compromise.
Compromise is too often a dirty word for designers and musicians alike but, by definition it’s a worthy objective. “To yield to reach agreement’, ‘to resolve difficulties’, to ‘give and take’. What better aim can there be in anything we do? There need be nothing negative about compromise – it can provide astonishing results beyond individual egos – solutions unimagined by designer or musician. Pretentious twaddle? Not on your life. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the ingrediants to create it have always been surprising, exciting and fun.
Behind the designs are numerous stories. There have always been stories. Whether they are about the Thompson Twins, Metallica, Def Leppard, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, the Geezers Of Nazereth (who? – just listen), Tori Amos, The Rolling Stones, or my current obsession – The Perils, the stories are the thing which provide insight into how the design process works.
I have reached a point where experience and the joy of how I have achieved a satisfying degree of success should be shared. It’s a strange, hilarious and entertaining journey, but without doubt it’s an affirmation of the only thing that matters – enjoy your life, and whatever it is that provides opportunity to be creative.
Should we start at the beginning? I think so …. Remember Sector 27 …. I doubt it.