Peter Saville

10 Iconic Album Cover Designs

Thursday 1st September 2016

Peter Saville is responsible for the graphic design of some of the most iconic records of the last 40 years. Perhaps best known for his artwork of New Order's 'Blue Monday' - the best selling 12 inch single of all time - Saville has also been part of the creative process behind some of the most memorable album covers to appear since the late 1970s - still finding new audiences in today's age of music streaming.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
1979, Design: Joy Division and Peter Saville

An image that has become ingrained in the visual lexicon of modern culture. The familiar device central to its success is a visualisation of radio waves emitted by a Pulsar star found by the band in the 1977 edition of The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. The album was numbered FAC-10 in accordance with Factory Records' famous system.

New Order - Movement
1981, Design: Peter Saville and Grafica Industria

With the relationship between, Factory Records, Saville and Joy Division (now New Order) cemented, the typographic treatment of 'Movement' was inspired by Saville's studies of Italian Futurist, Fortunato Depero. The rotated 'F' referring to Factory and the 'L' referring to the Roman numeral for the record's original catalogue number, FACT 50.

John Cooper Clarke - Snap, Crackle & Bop
1980, Design: Peter Saville and Paul Welch, Photography: Bob Elsdale

One of Peter Saville's early, less geometric/modernist influenced sleeves. Sharing Lancashire roots with Joy Division and Factory, John Cooper Clarke's album was recorded with Unknown Pleasures' producer, Martin Hannet, and featured The Invisible Girls who Saville would also design covers for.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
1980 Design: Ben Kelly and Peter Saville

The minimalist 12x12 grid of holes that formed the design of OMD's eponymous LP contrasted the bright orange inner sleeve with the blue outer for the first 10,000 copies, followed by 10,000 with black outers and pink inners, and a further 10,000 with grey outers and orange inners, before a final 10,000 in the blue/orange combination. Subsequent pressings then sported a printed sleeve drawing on the elements of the perforated grid.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Architecture And Morality
1981, Design Peter Saville and Brett Wickens, Photography: Robin Roddey

Another of Saville's covers for OMD drew upon his influences from early modernist typographers such as Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold, styles and design ethos that lent itself perfectly to the architectural theme of the record's title.

Section 25 - Always Now
1981, Design: Peter Saville and Grafica Industria

Based on a page from a Berthold Type Catalogue the cover for Always Now's 'Section 25' (FAC 45) also made use of the Saville/Factory signature industrial yellow, to full effect.

Roxy Music - Flesh And Blood
1980, Cover by Bryan Ferry, Antony Price, Neil Kirk, Simon Puxley, Peter Saville.

Roxy Music are cited by Saville as huge influences in his early days, so it must have been something of a dream come true for the relatively young designer to work on the cover of 'Flesh And Blood', alongside his idol Bryan Ferry. He would also contribute to the design of their follow up 'Avalon'.

Pulp - This Is Hardcore
1998, Art Direction: John Currin and Peter Saville

By the late 1990s, Peter Saville's reputation and body of work placed him perfectly to design and art direct for a new batch of creative bands emerging from the later days of the Britpop phenomenon. One such band, Pulp, took a darker themed direction at the time, which was perfectly captured in the cover for 'This Is Hardcore'.

Suede - Sci-Fi Lullabies 
1997, Photo: John Kippin (courtesy of the Photographer's Gallery, London),
Art direction: Peter Saville, Design: Howard Wakefield at The Apartment

Suede's double CD collection of B-sides and rarities (it wouldn't be released on vinyl until its 2014 reissue) is heralded by many as one of the band's best albums. The wonderful eerie bleakness of many of its songs was illustrated well by John Kippin's image of a decaying cold war era RAF Lightning supersonic fighter aircraft.

New Order - Music Complete
2015, Art Direction: Peter Saville, Design: Paul Hetherington.

It is arguably Peter Saville's relationship with New Order that has defined his career more than any of the other projects he has worked on. Like his early 80s New Order collaborations the most recent album on this list sees Saville return to playful, zero text, colourful geometric compositions to create a dynamic cover, with the order of the colours differing for each release format.

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