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Hipgnosis Founder Storm Thorgerson: The Man Behind the Album Covers of the 70s

One of the most influential album cover artists has left the world. Pink Floyd, UFO, Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, UFO, Styx, etc. have all released albums with covers made by Hipgnosis.

The Norwegian-British artist Storm Thorgerson died of cancer on the 18th of April at 69 years of age. He co-founded Hipgnosis in 1968, based in London, with Aubrey Powell. Hipgnosis quickly grew to become the dominant force in the album cover market in the 70s rock scene until they were finally dissolved in 1982. They created classic album covers like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973), and were hired by many other bands such as Wishbone Ash, Led Zeppelin, Nazareth, Bad Company, AC/DC, T. rex, Black Sabbath, UFO, Styx, Yes, Scorpions, Rainbow, Def Leppard, Emerson Lake Palmer, Genesis, Caravan, Quatermass, Paul McCartney, etc.

Hipgnosis focus was on surrealistic photography, often with an element of humor in them, as the very name reflects, which is reminiscent of the word “hypnosis”, as well as a pun on “Hip” (new) and “gnostic” (ancient learning). They were in the forefront of experimental techniques in photography, where they made heavy use of multiple exposures, airbrush retouching, and various darkroom tricks.

Hipgnosis became the go-to-guys for bands like Pink Floyd and UFO, who had all their albums in the 70s designed by them.

Hipgnosis mostly used Hasselblad medium format cameras, which they usually used to photograph models/actors on the covers, and very seldom did they put the actual band on the cover. In the case of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, with a burning man on the cover shaking hands, they used an actual stuntman, who apparently burned himself quite badly, or so the story goes.

Other than designing album cover art, they also designed the cover of the original UK paperback edition of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” For more trivia, I refer the interested to Wikipedia where one may find a full list of Album Covers by Hipgnosis.

Which is your favorite album cover by Hipgnosis?

written by impaktor

3 comments

  1. hervinsyah

    hervinsyah

    Unfortunately too many Indonesian young generation including me who wearing this cover album piracy t-shirt without listening to the album. My favorite cover is Sgt Peppers Purple Hearts Club Band

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. impaktor

    impaktor

    That's a classic albumcover, with many famous people and references on the cover.

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. matt_skwid

    matt_skwid

    lots of great stuff!

    11 months ago · report as spam