Between the late ’60s and early ’80s, design house Hipgnosis created some of the most iconic and ubiquitous album artwork of all time. Their original lifespan coincided with the golden age of the 12-inch LP, beginning just as the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper made the record sleeve the ultimate blank canvas and ending just as new technology looked set to usurp vinyl.
Having originally been approached to design an album cover for their friends Pink Floyd, students Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and Storm Thorgerson would go on to define the visual identity of rock and roll for the next fifteen years, swiftly gaining international prominence for their famed The Dark Side of the Moon artwork. This paved the way for other major musicians to set foot in the surreal photo-design world of Storm and Po, resulting in seminal Hipgnosis creations for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Genesis, Black Sabbath, ELO and Yes.
In this authorised account, with access to previously unpublished material and exclusive contributions from David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Robert Plant and even Aubrey Powell himself, Mark Blake goes behind the scenes of the Hipgnosis partnership to reveal the pioneering ambition and grand vision that led to their success, as well as the clashing egos and artistic differences that undermined it. The Hipgnosis story also offers hitherto-untold insight into some of music’s most legendary bands, as viewed through the prism of the people who shaped their imagery and cultural legacy.
With the work of Hipgnosis continuing to be referenced, reproduced and revered worldwide, Us and Them serves as a celebration, a cautionary tale and a compelling human drama, exploring the vital intersection between art and music.