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Aubrey Powell:
A Design For Life

As one half of visionary British design team Hipgnosis, Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell changed the face of the album sleeve. Here he digs deep into his archive...

In the 1970s, Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell was one of the creative minds behind the design agency Hipgnosis. Powell, along with his partner, the late Storm Thorgerson, stripped away the album title and even the band name, and stuck a picture of a cow on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and a prism on the sleeve of The Dark Side Of The Moon instead.

Hipgnosis revolutionised album sleeve art with their elaborate and often surreal imagery for Floyd, Led Zeppelin, 10cc, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel and more. Hipgnosis folded in 1983 and Powell went on to a highly successful career directing documentaries, films and TV commercials. However, prior to Storm Thorgerson’s death in 2013, he began collating Hipgnosis’ past work, discovering forgotten negatives and contact sheets, “some of which,” he explains, “had been lying in the bottom of a cupboard for over forty years.”

A new handsome hardback book, Hipgnosis Portraits, offers a journey through a golden age of rock: with unseen outtakes from album cover shoots, rejected artwork and Powell’s previously unpublished photo sessions with some of the biggest bands in the world.

“I captured these artists when they were at their peak,” says Po now. “Floyd, Zeppelin, the Stones  – they looked their best, they were playing their best, and they were making the best music of their lives.”

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