From the 1909 release of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite through the highly controversial Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones in 1971 to the 360° VR gimmick of Trill Sammy’s No Sleep, Vol. 1. in present times the album artwork has definitely
Moving from the iconic painted covers of Fifties’ jazz records to the photography-based ones used by the rock ’n’ roll bands during the 1960s and 1970s the record industry has established an unyielding know-how in terms of making a LP remarkable art object. Then, as with any other settled authoritarian regimes, comes a rebellious figure that acts ingeniously and wisely and manages to rewrite the DNA structure of the status quo from the inside. In this case the figure is embodied by a tall, skinny Mancunian that goes by the name of Peter Saville.
Peter Saville was born on October
Saville’s appreciation for the popular music marked enormously his career in the world of graphic design. By befriending Mr. Wilson he was hired in 1979 as the art director of freshly created music label Factory Records — co-founded by Saville himself. Served with an exclusive artistic freedom (just like the signed band members themselves) Peter saw an incredible opportunity not just to show his works to the world but to transfigure the tired and self-important aura of the rock celebrity
By shifting the focus from the ubiquitous ‘’either-face-or-body’’ option to supposedly insignificant visuals directly taken out of the daily life that should appear rather dull in a different context: Braille characters, user manuals, aerial photographs, old topographic maps, etc. Undoubtedly, his first great moment comes when he was assigned with the artwork for Unknown Pleasures — the debut album of a young Manchester-based quartet named Joy Division.
Although their guitar player Bernard Sumner chose the image for the front cover (a representation of radio waves from pulsar CP 1919 taken directly from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy) it was Saville himself who did the magic by reversing the colors and juxtaposing them to a single, stark image of a door for the inlay in addition to the spartan usage of information. The design suits perfectly the unique cold and
Along with his work for Factory Records Saville did a significant body of work for Virgin’s branch Dindisc where he created covers for such popular artists like Wham!, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Roxy Music and many more. In this
However, he continued to cherish his Factory portfolio more passionately pointing out the now-infamous cover for New Order’s 12-inch single Blue Monday. In this
By creating over 200 other front covers for New Order and likewise artists in the 1980s and subsequent years Peter Saville established himself not only as a household name in the field of the popular graphic design but also as a trend of his own in terms of pop art tendencies. His method of using real-life objects by ripping them out of the dullness of their usual state and making them iconic. Speaking of his favorite cover for New Order’s second studio album he argues that “flowers suggested the means by which power, corruption and lies infiltrate our lives. They’re seductive.”
Thus, an image of elegance and fragility could also evoke a buried subtext of sneaking disquietude no matter whether one associates it with specific sounds or words. In his later years Saville reached further success such as his appointment as the Manchester City’s Creative Director or designing the home shirts of the England football team but it is out of question that his peak was definitely during the untamed Factory era when he transformed the banality into something truly impeccable.