Design firm Hipgnosis Serving up iconic album covers

Storm Thorgerson

Storm Thorgerson, co-founder of Hipgnosis

British design firm Hipgnosis was responsible for some of the most iconic album cover art ever, during what could be considered the heyday of the medium. Founded in 1968 by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, their first album cover project was for Pink Floyd’s second effort, A Saucerful of Secrets. Hipgnosis gained significant international prominence when they designed The Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. Their last effort was Led Zeppelin’s Coda, released in 1982. Between 1968 and 1982, Hipgnosis designed 190 album covers for major acts of the time such as Pink Floyd, T. Rex, UFO, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Scorpions, Yes, Def Leppard, Genesis, ELO, The Police, Rainbow, Styx and XTC.

Both Thorgerson and Powell were film and art students. Non-coincidentally the designs created by Hipgnosis relied heavily on photography. They were also innovators of many creative visual and packaging techniques. Many of their images were extensively manipulated in ways that modern Photoshop artists take for granted. Most of their album art also featured gatefolded covers to allow a larger footprint for their artistic expression.

If you’d be interested in a coffee table book featuring the artwork of Hipgnosis, written by Thorgerson and Powell, check out For the Love of Vinyl. It focuses on more than 60 package designs in great detail. Also in the book are short essays by some of the musicians involved, discussing some of their favorite Hipgnosis album covers. Check out the short interview with Aubrey Powell below as he discusses Hipgnosis and For the Love of Vinyl.

image of Storm Thorgerson from wikimedia commons.

About The Author

Graphic Design & Artist

I’m Ed Ward of Mental Ward Design, and I’m a graphic designer, art director, and production artist. I specialize in image manipulation and graphic design using Photoshop, but I don't stop there. I hold a BFA degree from Rutgers University and have years of experience as a Graphic Designer, Marketing Manager, Art Director and Director of Advertising for companies in the Entertainment, Motorcycle, and Wholesale Travel industries. Since 1998 I’ve devoted my professional efforts to full-time independent graphic design.