At first glance, I bet the name Storm Thorgerson doesn’t ring any bells; however, after looking at any small sample of his art, I’m sure that any person alive in the last 40 years will recognize his work immediately.
Even as a self-diagnosed connoisseur of music and album artwork, until I found a copy of the book “Taken By Storm” (an awe-inspiring hand-picked collection of his best work, and written by the artist himself) I had no idea that almost all of my favorite album artwork was done by the same genius mind.
Storm Thorgerson was born in England in 1944, and attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys where he was a schoolmate of Pink Floyd members Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, and was a teenage friend of David Gilmour. In 1968 he founded Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell which was the company he operated under until his unfortunate death at age 69 in 2013 after battling cancer.
Storm’s list of clientele contains some of the biggest acts of the last 40-50 years: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Muse, Black Sabbath, The Who, Phish, AC/DC, The Mars Volta, Dream Theater, Yes, Syd Barrett, The Cranberries, Peter Gabriel, Audioslave, Steve Miller Band, Catherine Wheel, 10cc; and the list goes on and on and on…
In some ways, it’s a shame Storm Thorgerson was never a household name. The average person would be surprised to find they most likely have at least one album with his artwork wrapped around. In his books, he speaks about his creative process, which involves listening to the album multiple times until he discovers a metaphor or theme that could be translated into visual art, or generating something unique that paralleled the sounds on the record.
As any true fan of music can tell you, the album artwork is almost as important as the music itself, and the imagery can have a direct correlation to the sounds that come forth, showing the listener a small piece of the visual element that could never be told through music; in the case of the album artwork of Storm, he always brought the designs to an entirely new level, and garnering the attention of music fans worldwide (while sadly, most of them had no idea who designed all the images they loved).
One of the greatest things about Storm was his desire to use practical effects and real props for his artwork, shunning the use of computer aided manipulation. Most of his work was photographic in nature, with several notable exceptions being hand-drawn. If his art has layers and looks like it was photoshopped, it was most likely meticulously cut out with scissors by hand. The artwork takes on a whole new dimension of reality, showcasing things that exist, but are nonetheless real. This is exceptionally rare when living in an age defined by computer-made art.
Although his life may have seemed short – his legacy will live on, and his work will be cherished for centuries to come as one of the most definitive voices of album art for the better part of the 20th century.
Below is a list compiled of a small fraction of Storm’s body of work; however, between these samples you should be able to experience a wide variety of the artwork he’s created over the years. And if you are enthralled with Storm’s work, there’s plenty more where these came from.
To learn more above Storm’s beginnings with Hipgnosis and his early career, watch the short interview below:
The aforementioned book, “Taken By Storm,” is a must-read if you’re moved by his art and want to learn more details on how the images came to be. It can be purchased on Amazon.com by clicking HERE.