Storm Thorgerson, the name behind the collaborative which became Stormstudios, and before that, Hipgnosis, has been designing album cover art for over 35 years. The studios have designed many of the most famous album covers in history, including Pink Floyd’s instantly recognisable Dark Side of the Moon. Many of Thorgerson’s classic album covers have become masterpieces in their own right. Thorgerson’s designs are noticeable for their surreal elements. He often places objects out of their traditional contexts, setting them in vast spaces that give them an awkward appearance whilst highlighting their beauty.
Born in Potters Bar, Middlesex in 1944, Thorgerson went to school with Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. He studied English and Philosophy at university before going on to complete an MA in Film and Television at the Royal College of Art. His career as an artist began accidentally; around the time of his graduation from the Royal College Pink Floyd were completing their second album A Saucerful of Secrets, when a friend turned down the job of creating its sleeve. With no background in art or graphic design Thorgerson volunteered to step into the fold. Along with his friend Aubrey Powell he set up the British graphic art group Hipgnosis in 1968, they specialised in creative photography for album covers. Many of Thorgerson’s album covers were designed before the advent of advanced computer design software, and were created through the use of photography, paint and sculpture.
‘Since I cannot draw for toffee, I work with photography. But just because I can’t draw, it doesn’t mean I can’t take the flight of the imagination. I like photography because it is a reality medium, unlike drawing, which is unreal. I like to mess with reality. Some of my work asks the question: is it real or not?”
Thorgerson’s surrealist work raised the bar for album cover designs, changing the way the world looked at the music of everyone from Peter Gabriel to Black Sabbath. From the burning businessman on the cover of Wish You Were Here to the giant flying pig over Battersea Power Station for Animals, Thorgerson went on to design almost every Pink Floyd album sleeve. His most iconic work was for 1973’s Darkside of the Moon. Thorgerson has worked with many bands over the years, including Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Led Zeppelin, Muse, 10cc, Syd Barrett, Offspring and The Cranberries to name a few.