An encounter with music album artist Storm Thorgerson and an attempt to live up to his high expectations.
Storm Thorgerson thinks it’s in the band’s interest that they get along with him since they want the best cover for their albums. He doesn’t make it exactly easy for them, as he is awkward (admitting it himself) grumpy and opinionated. But music icons like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Muse wouldn’t choose someone else to give their albums the final visual polish. Storm Thorgerson albums have passed millions of music fans’ hands and made music-history. When we visited Storm Thorgerson at his most recent exhibition at the Idea Generation gallery we had a close-up on how the brain behind Pink Floyd’s “Liquid Side of the Dark Moon” album cover works. The gallery promptly invited us to reproduce our own version of it – under the close surveillance of the artist, of course. We probably didn’t exactly soothe his nerves or his voice, as we couldn’t really get a grip on his paint-pouring technique. Even shouting at his assistant “Rachel, tell the young man, that he has to pour closer to the surface so it doesn’t splash” and observing us from different angles didn’t do the trick. Somehow we still managed to get a decent version of the cover and Thorgerson assured us that “This has to be repeated many times, before we choose the most interesting one”. “The Liquid Side of the dark” moon was compared to Storm Thorgerson’s other works a rather cheap production. All of his photos have been done for real, rather than being designed on the computer. Although looking at 700 antique-looking beds on a beach you might suspect otherwise. “It is difficult to do this, as they are also very heavy.” he told me. Storm Thorgerson made his first album cover n 1967 for Pink Floyd, whom he was a friend with. At this time there was no Photoshop and computer designed pictures, so there really was so other option as to make his psychedelic ideas into reality and then take photos.
What is the importance of an album cover in times of i-tunes and mp3? Is the album cover disappearing? Thorgerson doesn’t think so. “It is the picture that counts. It has to best illustrate or represent the music. We don’t know in what format or design it will appear as the record company decides on that, so that’s the only thing we can work with”. Although the way we produce and publish images may change, it’s the idea that fascinates us forever and Storm Thorgerson has definitely done a good job at that.
His most recent exhibition at the Idea Gallery has shown 14 of his favourite covers in large print, which also went on sale. While visitors browse the gallery he is already working on variations of the album cover, ordering his assistants around -and being awkward, of course.