Spring 2023

Heavy rotation

From 1977-92, the Album Cover Albums presented a broad spectrum of record sleeve art, unintentionally raising questions about the way graphic design for popular culture is experienced, interpreted and preserved. By Christopher Wilson [EXTRACT]

First published in 1977, The Album Cover Album was the first book to survey the history and evolution of record sleeve design. It spawned a series of volumes and a whole genre in design and music publishing. Unintentionally, the series raises questions about how design for popular culture is experienced and preserved. In part due to its long timespan – the final volume appeared in 1992 – the series also traced shifts in graphic design and in ideological differences between generations of designers.

The story begins with Roger Dean’s first book, Views. Dean had been creating fantasy art for record covers since 1968, and by the mid-1970s his landscapes and ornate, neo-Deco hand lettering for progressive rock artists, particularly Yes, were world-famous. ‘Every time I did an album cover I had an additional proof made, at my own cost, with the text taken off, so that I’d have a double-page ready to go into a book. I planned that from day one.’ This book would be image-led. ‘Most art books would be full of words and have half a dozen pictures in black-and-white to illustrate a point pretty inadequately.’ …

Christopher Wilson, graphic designer, writer, Oberphones, Nottingham

Read the full version in Eye no. 104 vol. 26, 2023

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.