Storm Thorgerson, Pink Floyd's 'prism man', dies aged 69

Apr 19, 2013

As co-founder of the Hipgnosis agency, Thorgerson created some of classic rock's greatest art work

STORM THORGERSON, the British graphic designer who created the cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, has died of cancer at the age of 69. During a 40-year career – much of it with his London design agency Hipgnosis – he was responsible for artwork that graced the covers of albums by artists including Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and Muse. Here are five things you may not know about Thorgerson.

He went to school with two members of Pink Floyd: Thorgerson attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys at the same time as Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. He was also friends with the band's guitarist Dave Gilmour. The first Floyd cover he designed was 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets/, the band's second LP.

He 'photoshopped' images before Photoshop was invented: Thorgerson set up the design agency Hipgnosis in 1967, long before computers transformed graphic design. His approach to design started from photography and "applied techniques such as airbrushing and multiple exposures to create surreal dislocations and disturbing juxtapositions", says The Guardian. For example, the "talismanic" black object on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Presence LP was actually a simple outline hand-cut into an old photograph of an American family.

He made pigs fly: As well as the prism on the cover of Dark Side of the Moon - a design he copied from a physics text book - Thorgerson's also did the artwork for Pink Floyd's 1977 LP Animals. The album's cover shows a giant inflatable pig floating above Battersea power station. During the photographic shoot the pig broke free from its mooring and drifted into the path of aircraft approaching Heathrow airport.

He was always trying to be different: As well as visual innovation, Thorgerson loved to experiment with new materials. Apparently, the sleeve of Led Zeppelin's /In Through the Out Door/ album is designed to change colour if liquid is applied to it. It was a "secret design element" that Thorgerson didn't even share with the band, says Ultimate Classic Rock.

He made album art into... art: Hipgnosis's best sleeves are "the embodiment of what record sleeve art should be: iconoclastic, disturbing, and turbo-charged with psychological weirdness," says Creative Review.

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