Films & Videos about Album Cover Art & Artists
As you know by the number of interviews we’ve done with some of the people who’ve created many of your favorite album covers, often times those stories – and the people involved in the process – are often as interesting as the works themselves. Over the years, a few of these stories have been told on film or video – some by the artists themselves (as a number of them are also film-makers) and others resulting from the inquiries of journalists interested in bringing these stories to a larger audience. While you’d think that, based on the visual art-based aspects of the album cover business, there would be a number of documentaries on the subject, as of today, we’re only aware of the following (all are available on DVD):
1) Under The Covers – A Magical Journey: Rock N Roll in L.A. in the 60’s – 70’s (2002) –
Promo copy from the DVD package – “Return to a classic era of rock-n-roll with the community of artists making legendary music during the ’60s and ’70s. Get to know these musicians and the music they created as they unlock personal memories of those carefree times. You’ll be amazed to see how this group of musical artists became a family of friends. Seen through the eyes of world-famous photographer Henry Diltz and three time Grammy-nominated art director/artist Gary Burden, Under The Covers contains a remarkable selection of touching and amusing stories, interviews and photographs, which humanizes these rock-n-roll icons. Under The Covers features legendary music, never-before-seen home videos and photos, and candid conversations with these renowned artists. Hang out with the Doors, Eagles, Mama Cass, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Jackson Browne and many more!”
Running time – 2 hours 10 minutes. Written by Bill Day & Terry Schwartz. Executive Producers – Gary Burden, Henry Diltz and Peter Blachley. Copyright 2002 – Triptych Pictures, a Lightyear Entertainment released, distributed by WEA/Warner Bros.
2) Taken by Storm: The Mind Movies of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis (2011) –
Promo copy from the web site – “Taken by Storm: The Mind Movies of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis is a film about Thorgerson life’s work as told through his own reflection, his personal archive of never-before seen photographs and films, ex-partner of Hipgnosis Aubrey Powell, and through first hand narratives from some of the most important musicians of our time: David Gilmour and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel, and more recent collaborations with Scottish group Biffy Clyro, Rob Dickinson of Catherine Wheel, Dominic Howard of Muse, Cedric Bixler Zavala of The Mars Volta and many others as well as the numerous photographers, illustrators and assistants who have helped execute the work from the days of Hipgnosis to his new company StormStudios.
Running time – 1 hour 35 minutes. A film by Roddy Bogawa. Produced by Rob Roth, Roddy Bogawa and Chris Brokaw. Financed in part by a 2010 Kickstarter campaign, the film had its world premiere at the 2011 SXSW Festival in Austin, TX.
3) The Cover Story: Album Art (2013) –
“The untold stories behind some of the classic covers of the vinyl era” – includes interviews with “the Blind Faith cover girl”, “the Nirvana baby”, Yoko Ono on the cover for the Two Virgins record, artist Roger Dean on his covers for YES, artists Mouse and Kelley on their work for the Grateful Dead, artist Victor Moscoso on his psychedelic album covers and much more.
Running time – 1 hour, 51 minutes. Produced, written and directed by Eric Christensen. Copyright 2013 – Album Art LLC.
On a related note – there was a film released in 2009 titled American Artifact by director Merle Becker about rock poster art and artists and, as many album cover artists also have earned a living making promo posters for musical acts and venues, a number of them were included in that film as well.
There have been a host of short films made over the years detailing “the making of” specific album covers. Sometimes done alongside “the making of” music video documentaries, while other times done while documenting (better word?) album cover photo shoots, these video shorts can also be quite revealing as they highlight the varying states of the relationships between the designers, illustrators and photographers and the musical acts they’ve been hired to work with.
Here are a few examples we’ve found, along with links to the video clips online:
1) Jon Sarkin (re: Guster’s Easy Wonderful) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g837CY9xN4
2) El Mac (re: No Doubt’s Push and Shove) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYFzNQLlvhs
3) James Marsh – Spirit of Talk Talk – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSwgHxMLX_c
4) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp-1pgzTbn0
5) Zebra Dots (debut album) – from Slovenia, so you might not be familiar with their music, but they showed a lot of creativity in crafting their album cover – http://vimeo.com/54353836
6) Peter Saville (re: Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures) – http://vimeo.com/51365288
If you’re aware of other examples, please forward them to our attention (send them to mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll update this article.
updated January 29, 2013