Storm Thorgerson was best known for the inspired and surreal designs that graced over four decades of Pink Floyd album covers and visuals. His output reached far beyond his work for the Floyd and his influence lives on in subsequent generations of designers, photographers, filmmakers and artists.
Born in Potters Bar in 1944, he attended school in Cambridge with Pink Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. He studied English at Leicester University, and film and TV at The Royal College of Art.
In 1968 Storm co-founded the album cover design company Hipgnosis with Aubrey 'Po' Powell and conceived their first album cover for Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets. Hipgnosis created some of the most innovative and surreal record cover art of the 1960s, 70s and 80s for the biggest bands and musicians of the era including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, 10cc and Peter Gabriel.
That they chose the LP cover as their canvas in no way denigrates the aesthetic and creativity of this work, in fact it meant that it was seen and loved by millions that otherwise would not have encountered it. It is creative photography, performance, surrealism – it is art.
“I look back fondly on those teenage years – great friends, illuminating experiences, and of course the music.”
For fifteen years Hipgnosis thrived as one of the best known photo design companies and latterly movie makers, creating timeless rock iconography.
After the break-up of Hipgnosis in 1982 Storm continued working from the ordered chaos of his studio in North London where he and his team made ‘the art of the album’ their mantra, creating enigmatic covers for a new roll call of musicians including Biffy Clyro, Muse, Steve Miller and Mars Volta, as well as carrying on his close relationship with Pink Floyd.
Storm wrote (and often co-wrote with his former partner Po) a number of books including several on his master subject, album cover art and directed numerous videos, commercials and TV documentaries.
Storm and Po kept hold of much of their original Hipgnosis source material; boxes full of photographs, printed and often cut up into collage; strips of negatives showing alternative views of some of our most familiar music iconography; a precious archive of material that shaped our collective visual culture.
All of this original imagery provides a rich resource from which to embark on producing limited edition prints; indeed, it was Storm's suggestion that resulted in our first Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin editions fifteen years ago. The prints soon became part of his thinking from the outset, even giving a final purpose for ideas that weren't taken up by their intended clients!
His untimely death in 2013 has robbed the design world of a genius and it is fortunate that he has left us with such a legacy of artwork to enjoy.
“People pay me for my thoughts and my dreams. I think in that sense I'm very fortunate.”