Artist Review: Peter Saville

Peter Saville is a graphic designer who was born in Manchester in 1955, he’s famous through the artwork he did at Factory Records. This is an artist that I will personally never forget, it isn’t even because he’s one of the most famous from the UK, it’s because he was the first artist that I was tasked with researching in high school. At the time, I hated him. I was sick of trying to recreate his Joy Division album cover using black paper and bits of string. Looking back, I actually really like him and he helped me to start that Year 9 sketchbook in a kick-ass fashion. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of his work.

The Hacienda

Why not begin where his career did? He started off by designing the posters for The Hacienda Nightclub in Manchester, above is the most famous example from 1978. The colour scheme is most certainly eye-catching to say the least- relating to that of a warning sign. I like the vector graphic that he has incorporated and the fact it’s been duplicated gives off the sense of movement and haze. These are two factors that I’m sure are very present within the nightclub. The typography follows suit with the warning sign look, playing on the fact that it is loud within the club. Nice and simple but I rate it.

Record Sleeves for Factory Records

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the work that he is most famous for was his record sleeves, hence why they have their very own subsection. The bands that most commonly used Saville for their sleeve graphics were Joy Division and New Order.

Ah, my high school arch-nemesis. Despite the pain it caused me, this is a really strong album cover. So much so that people who don’t even like Joy Division wear the Unknown Pleasures t-shirt. It’s clear to see that it’s a cool design without the context but trust me, it’s about to get much better. It was actually the band who approached Saville with the design. They had found it in the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy and thought that the theory behind it along with design aspects would suit their debut album. According to Saville, he said ‘It’s a comparative chart of frequency and the accuracy of a signal.’ So… it’s not just random wavy lines that make an attractive vinyl sleeve. I like this cover, I think it’s unique and I think that it is a good representation of what ‘Unknown Pleasures’ is all about.

Happy Mondays Pills ‘N Thrills and Bellyaches- it’s colourful to say the least. This is one of my favourites. It’s cheerful and it’s loud and almost gives you a bellyache just looking at it. It captures the drug culture behind the industry at the time with a childish innocence with all the sweet wrappers. The font is very word-art-esk but is just as groovy as the Happy Mondays, it is almost hippyish and flows quite nicely. The wrappers were collected from America for the album yet later editions of it had to be altered and logos and to be removed for copyright reasons.

Saville had the help of interior designer Ben Kelly in order to create this sleeve. It was apparently based on a door that Kelly had designed. I think the colours complement each other nicely and the small amount of type allows the graphic below to stand out and be the main focus. Not only does it look sleek, it’s also cleverly designed so that the die-cut grid allows the orange inner sleeve to show through the blue. It might have cost more to do but I think it was worth it. It’s rare that so much thought goes into the final package rather than just the graphic.

Another die-cut! I think I have a bit of a thing for them. This time it has a lovely silver sleeve behind it. This was for New Orders ‘Blue Monday’. The design is supposed to resemble a 51/4   floppy disk and the colours are actually coding for ‘FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER!’ I do love a design with a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. It’s needless to say that the design looks seamless and is stunning sleeve for the single. Unfortunately, the die-cut sleeves, silver inner sleeves and all the different colours meant that Factory Designs lost money on every copy sold. I don’t think that anyone expected so many copies of the single to be sold. Oh well… the design looks ace.

This sleeve is from New Order single ‘True Faith’. The simple design is striking and I believe that it represents the singles title well. The golden leaf was a photograph and (apparently) hasn’t been digitally edited or enhanced. This is another one that I had to recreate during art class; I think I ended up covered in blue paint. I love this design, I think nothing would need to be added nor taken away from it. It looks like more of an illustrative approach than any of the other examples I’ve looked at, even though it is a photograph. I think the lack of clean cut edges and the lack of vector graphics gives it a much softer aesthetic which I believe to be more appropriate for a sleeve with a title track of ‘True Faith’.