Musicians that also design Album Covers – A Comprehensive List for Fans of Music and Art
by Mike Goldstein, curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
March 15, 2013
There are many examples of musical artists who are also accomplished visual artists, displaying great talent in the fields of painting, illustration, photography, sculpture and product design. Scholars of rock musicians know that a number of well-known musical acts were founded by art students that met each other while attending art school. Examples include Pink Floyd (Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright all went to London’s Polytechnic College on Regent Street, while Syd Barrett studied at Camberwell), Talking Heads (David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz all attended the Rhode Island School of Design), Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale studied at Kent State) and The Clash (Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones). Other well-known musicians who studied art include Queen’s Freddie Mercury (who attended both Isleworth Polytechnic and Ealing College and who went on to design the famous “Queen Crest”), Eric Clapton (Kingston College of Art), Pete Townshend (another Ealing alumnus), Brian Eno (Winchester Art School), R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (a U. of Georgia art major), Ray Davies of The Kinks (Hornsey College of Art in London ), Keith Richards (London’s Sidcup Art College) and Ron Wood (Ealing again) of The Rolling Stones and John Lennon (Liverpool College of Art). After studying art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under the tutelage of Richard Hamilton, Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry had a career as high school art instructor – specializing in ceramics and pottery – prior to forming the band in late 1970.
Whatever their motivations (Mick Jones of The Clash is quoted as saying that, although he felt that he had no real artistic talent, he went to art school to form a band as many of his musical influences – Lennon, Richards, Townshend, etc. – had gone to art school and then formed bands soon after), it is clear that right-brained, multi-talented individuals seem to have had an important influence on the development of both the aural and visual aspects of the pop music business.