Island Records - PolyGram - Polydor - Sony - A&M - Epic
During my first decade in the UK I freelanced around the London record industry.
I worked for many years with the late, great Jean-Luke Epstein at Graphyk, and also for some time with Bruno Tilley at Island Records. My roles at both were graphic designer / creative artworker. My tasks were taking briefs from artists, record labels and designers to produce graphics, layouts, image retouching and finished artwork for print.
Album sleeves, fly posters, billboards and press ads, live stage graphics and tour merchandise.
Island Records - A&M - Sony Music
After arriving back in London from a 6-month jaunt around Europe in the obligatory VW van, I found freelance work at Island Records and a few other major labels. This was creative artwork, taking designer briefs or label guidelines to create print artwork for albums, singles, CDs and marketing material.
The Stranglers - at Graphyk
It was my obsession with this band that first brought me from New Zealand to the UK on a two-year working holiday to meet some pen-pals who were fellow fans and collectors. It was subsequently meeting their sleeve designer that has kept me here ever since. On an SIS (Stranglers Information Service) trip to France I met self-titled 'Sleeve Engineer' Jean-Luke Epstein and soon after began working with him at Graphyk on record covers for my favourite band. I never looked back.
One of my first jobs for the band was this 'official bootleg' 7" single for their fanclub.
Over the years we designed sleeves for the Stranglers 'Greatest Hits', '10', 'All Live and All of the Night' albums and a great many singles and special limited edition releases.
Polaroid from the photo shoot for Greatest Hits.
The collection of memorabilia all came from one superfan, Graham Knapp.
The 'All Live and All of the Night' cover image resulted from a happy accident when the photographer's camera jammed and recorded multiple images. It reflected the brash chaos of a Stranglers gig.
'96 Tears' was concepted as a 'magic watercolour' sleeve, impregnated with invisible inks that were revealed by wetting the paper. Needless to say printing costs scuppered the neat idea, so the concept became 'paint-by-numbers' instead.
Jimmy Page - at Graphyk
Before being a Stranglers fan I had been a Zeppelin one, so the opportunity to be involved with a Jimmy Page album was another fantastic experience. The disappointment of not being able to meet the rock legend in person is tempered with the fact he is still using the JP logo I designed for this album.
Squeeze - at Graphyk
An exercise in Hipgnosis-like thought processes and ever-changing design briefs.
This 2-CD compilation started life under the title 'Irony', with the band being interested in exploring literal interpretations of the word. Jean-Luke and I brainstormed and word-associated and came up with a series of images representing the title. Branding irons and cowhide led to the steam iron and orange peel. I literally placed my steam iron and an orange on the scanner, collaged the images together and rearranged the holes to form an 'e'.
The band loved it... and then changed the title to 'Excess Moderation' at the last minute!
The Very Best of Cat Stevens - at Graphyk
The record company requested an illustration to echo the one used on Cat Stevens' 'Teaser and the Firecat' album.
I created mine in gouache paints in front of the telly one evening.
Proud To Be Loud - at Graphyk
This rock compilation cover art made it's debut years earlier on a Stranglers bootleg single I made in New Zealand.
I crafted a model from a plasticine ear sculpture and kitset parts to make an industrial backdrop.
A decade later this PolyGram album presented another opportunity to resurrect my heavy metal ears.
We went through a few other ideas when the original title was 'A Bang on the Ear'.
Hardwicke Circus - with Bruno Tilley
This cover for London rockers Hardwicke Circus started life as a pen sketch sent through Whatsapp from designer friend Bruno.
The band photos were colourised and applied to some 3D-modelled dice with embossed lettering. We tried black and white gloss backgrounds, and used the latter for the disc label.