When Aubrey “Po” Powell and Storm Thorgerson designed their first album cover back in 1968, they weren’t planning on redefining the industry—they just wanted to create a cover for their flatmates’ first album that wasn’t utterly boring. (Album covers those days mainly consisted of text and, maybe, a straightforward picture of the band members.) But Powell and Thorgerson’s friends became rock stars by the name of Pink Floyd—and they themselves became Hipgnosis, the visionary design collective behind the most iconic album covers of the late ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s. AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Police, Genesis, The Who and Paul McCartney are just a few of the artists they worked with.
Hipgnosis’ photography was unlike anything ever done before—surreal, captivating, psychedelic, sometimes shocking and often humorous.(Head over to our gallery Hipgnosis: 13 Snaps from the Photo/Design Studio’s Vault to see some prime examples.) They staged extravagant, emotionally charged photo shoots both on location and in-studio—and manipulated film in the editing room to create eye-catching imagery before the days of Photoshop. Hipgnosis Portraits is a collection of both these seminal album covers and the lost photo shoots, as well as the stories behind them—working intimately with the bands to conceive and execute their creative visions.
EW talked to Po Powell, the only living member of Hipgnosis, about the inspirations behind the art—and some of his craziest memories of working with today’s rock legends in their heydays.
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