Vaughan Oliver

“After discussing and explaining some of his exisiting work Mr. Oliver told us not to follow trends which I believe is what makes the design pioneers of all eras. He also said “How does the profession progress if your looking in front of you all the time?”. Reflecting on yourself as well as researching on the past is what prepares you for the future.” Arinze

Vaughan Oliver (born 1957) is a British graphic designer based in Epsom, South of London. Oliver is most noted for his work with graphic design studios 23 Envelope and v23.[Both studios maintained a close relationship with record label 4AD between 1982 and 1998 and were to give distinct visual identities for the 4AD releases by many bands, including Cocteau TwinsDead Can DanceThe BreedersThis Mortal CoilPale SaintsPixies, and Throwing Muses.



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Vaughan Oliver designs record sleeve for David Lynch

Vaughan Oliver


Lecture 18.01.2012




Images and Video of Vaughan Oliver Lecture.

“So far, I felt that Vaughan Oliver has given one of the most intersting lectures, not only entertaining me with his lively, energetic samples of work but also giving information that will stay with the serious artist for the rest of their life.” Mekeisha



  1. Joe said:

    Cannot wait for this!

  2. Lecture 2 from:
    Arinze Imachukwu

    Vaughan Oliver – music graphic designer

    Vaughan Oliver took our third lecture which gave us a small insight into his life of graphic design. He discussed various things such as how he met the person that lead him to begin designing record sleeves, His childhood perspective on typography and his work for companies such as Loreal.

    Vaughan Oliver bumped into a guy which happened to be starting a record label which too him on full time to start designing for his label. Vaughan oliver was his 1st employee and explained to him that he wanted to allow people to hear music that he loved come first to making money with this.

    He dislike typography during his school days however caused him to now take a plain and low use of typography. This allowed him to develop is simple yet impacting imagery on his designs.

    He explained to us that he starts by listening to the music and lyrics then asks the band what they want to be achieved through the art work. He also had an advantage by being able to hear the original demos as he’s working in the office, gets to hear the development. This will be an approach I would defiantly take if I were to be in his position. Inspiration comes from every where such as going to see the band live was something else he stated. I would defiantly take this approach and allow the design to progress from my perspective first and then ask for the clients input.

    After discussing and explaing some of his exisiting work Mr. Oliver told us not to follow trends which I believe is what makes the design pioneers of all eras. He also said “How does the profession progress if your looking in front of you all the time?”. Reflecting on yourself as well as researching on the past is what prepare you for the future.

    Arinze Imachukwu

  3. From:

    Wednesday 18th January 2011

    This was our second lecture, only this time is was with Vaughn Oliver. We looked at the Acronym D.A.N.C.E which is used for writing works.






    Vaughn Oliver has been in the business for around 30 years, holding lectures around the world, Barcelona being an example. His main source of inspiration is Music, which is included in around 70% of his work.

    He began his presentation, of which I believe was his lecture from Barcelona. He worked around contextualization, an image we saw of his work, which was some naked statues, was made to show the flexing and relaxation of muscles.

    Vaughn was never a fan of Typography, he feels it “ruined his illustrations”. That said, he did have a piece which was inspired from a section of Typography, specifically it was a set of jam jars. He also had another piece inspired from Chanel.

    I was finding what he was saying very interested and felt gripped on his every word. When talking about design specific products, he went on to say “ you can’t design a record label without listening to the record, like you can’t design a book sleeve without reading the book.” If was to do use, the piece would have “no substance” and would be “worthless”

    For a while, on a few occasions, Vaughn like to experiment with ink & aerosol in water, creating several unique shapes and colours then developing them. Another thing he said which has stuck with me was to “find your own voice, don’t produce work designed to fit in and go with the grain of others” – a gentle nudge to be creative, unique and individual on our designs.

    When thinking about the outcome of his work, Vaughn had said that he’d prefer work that you can hold, takeaway, collect or even obsess over, makes me think if designing something portable and tangible. He also went on to explain his dislike for CD covers, believing them to be “pne of the worst creations of the 20th century”

    His mentor and Tutor in college, Terry Dowling, showed him a different kind of beauty to design, and found him to be a large part of his inspiration.

    In one of his album themes, the angle he went for was Spanish pride and culture – Flamenco, but to add a new dimension to the piece, he asked the dancer to take her top of for the shoot.

    Another point he made was to try to create the feeling of ambiguity & mystery – to be struck by an image, but not understand it.

    So all in all, the majority of Vaughn Oliver’s work is on record sleeves, and he also created a calendar on Colin Gray’s parents.

    Whilst working with an Italian designer for the Apessi Campaign, he worked with coloured lights, “light opposed to Darkness”

    He also worked with global brand, borrowing garments & asking the hair stylist to respond to the garments.

    He then finished off by showing us a slide show of a selection of his final pieces.

    I found Vaughn’s lecture very interesting & insightful, looking and understand his dimension of work and how he came about to have some of the ideas he had, and then how he executed them. It was very helpful to me and a great help to hear some useful tips from a well-established designer, of which I will do my best to implement into my future works..

  4. Lecture 2 Notes by:

    Vaughan Oliver

    Today we had lecture by a Vaughan Oliver. Vaughan is a British Graphic Designer/Art director who is based in south London Epsom. He began the lecture by talking about music, he says that music plays a big part in his work as it can be used to inspire work or change his mood and even opinions. He had passion for both music and design and wanted a way to do both of these things while working so he went into doing record designs for various artists and bands.

    He did a lot of collaborations with other artist designers and photographers to create graphic materials because he liked the idea of people thoughts and processes working together to create a new item or graphic.

    One part of his career that he really like was when he started his own record company which he produced the Logo and all promotional material for 3 years which was kind of like the start or should I say high point of his career as a graphic designer

    He then went on to creating album and record covers for well known bands such as Cocteau Twins, dead can dance, The Breeders, This Mortal coil, Pale saints, Throwing Muses and Pixies. To do most of these covers he started by listening. He would listen to the lyrics of the artist or band and then try to imagine a design in his head that fits the whole genre or feel of the music which lead him to create some fantastic designs.

    He did a lot of experimentations for his packaging before finalising his work which meant that he ended up with various versions for one album but then he got to look at all of them to see what works well and what didn’t just in case any form of tweaking was needed. One experiment he did was based on water which he thought was a good metaphor top use for music as it is always changing and the flow never actually stops.

  5. Second Lecture NOTES!!!! from:


    Vaughn Oliver was a guest lecturer he is a Graphic designer and Typographer. He loves music it changes his mind and his chemistry. Record sleeve design has been contrary to his work. 1980 he bumped into someone who was setting up a record company post punk. 4AD, he free-lanced for them they shared old-fashioned values and tastes attention to detail. His vision was to show other people the music he loved and the passion. Re-contextualization, ripping something up and sticking it back down. Used interesting patterns in his work. He worked in a packaging design studio; making perfume labels, jam labels and beer cans. He used aspects of the food packing in his record sleeve design. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make a good record sleeve, a power image and great text. But it has to truly connect to the music to be a powerful piece of design. Hand drawn typography that’s an extension of an image. Post design rationalization. He starts with the music listens to it and listens to the lyrics. If you do work that is on trend all the time, Where are you in it all? Text as image and information as illustration. Trying to be sensitive to the music trying to objectify the music. Without the pixies there wouldn’t have been any grunge. David Lynch film maker. Inspiration comes from everywhere. The breeders- Pod. Mark Rothko was used as inspiration. Don’t go far for inspiration. It’s there you just have to look closely. User friendly logos. The sleeve is born from the music it has to come from the music. He made calendars with each month dedicated to an artist. His calendar is abiut an exploration of image and type together. Colin Grey. A raw shot without photo shop has a life about it. Layers upon layers of photoshop drain the life from an image. Two types of text describe the two qualities of something. Re-appropriating giving a new meaning giving a new context.


    Our lesson this morning involved a lecture given by Vaughan Oliver. Vaughan has been a graphic designer for roughly 30 years, starting his successful career in college where he studied graphic design for 3 years and then was given a job as a freelancer which developed into a permanent job specialising in designing, particularly vinyl covers for various bands/artists. Vaughan’s experience in the music industry allowed him to give the students useful information. He said not to produce work just because it fits a trend, find your own voice and work from that. It isn’t hard to find inspiration but when you do, innovate but do things differently; brand yourself. I found it useful when he said what made it easier was hearing the demos of the song he was producing the vinyl for, and relating the design to the music; this is what makes successful album artwork. Vaughan definitely has own style, he is very edgy by this I mean he likes to be adventurous to the audience. I found the lecture interesting, it was useful to learn more about the graphic design in the music industry, as this is something I am intrigued by.

    Throughout the presentation, Vaughan presented a variety of his works. This was one of my favourites, I like the photography and the controversy this may have caused.

  7. Lecture 2 – 18th January 2012 – Vaughan Oliver – Graphic Design by

    For our second lecture, Vaughan Oliver came to speak to us about Graphic Design, he spoke about his work, his inspirations, how he started & how he progressed as a designer.

    Vaughan is currently based in Epsom, South London, he is most noted for his work with graphic design studios 23 Envelope & v23. Both studios were both close with the record label 4AD between 1982 and 1998, they gave a new and raw visual identities to the bands signed with them.

    I never knew a lot about Vaughan, I found his lecture very interesting and his work very inspiring. He spoke a lot about the bands he worked with and how he would listen to their songs and talk to them to get a good idea of the kind of visual identity he would give to them. I found this really intriguing as I love music and find it so inspiring and an easy way to express emotions. Music can be such a powerful inspiration for many people.

  8. Vaughan Oliver and an arrow on my path by

    She was very thirsty, so we went in and looked around for the fountain with drinking water. The weather hadn’t been so unpleasant and grey since I have been here. Windows were smudged because of inside heat combined with the outside cold and curious hands drawing on the steam on the glass. But the fountain was exactly on the right now, so the thoughts came back to reality. Confusion and confidence in the face of an all-in-black dressed male with a coat, making his silhouette elegant and severe, hit my distracted look. So fast. He just passed us by absently and rushed into the room which we were supposed to enter too. She wasn’t thirsty anymore, neither was I, so we went in.

    Yes, it was him. Apparently looking for the place he had to reach. Excitement? Not really. Maybe I should call it getting to know the situation. When it all seems unknown and unfamiliar, when ignorance is taking the lead and the concentration falls into effort to remember something essential. What was his name again? I read it only once. ‘Okay everyone, Vaughan is here.’ was what Mark said and the man in the coat asked where can he get water from.

    Just to mention, this was about to become my favourite lecture.

    I was firstly impressed by his voice. Powerful and loud, like a roar in raw English. Vaughan Oliver is a graphic designer. He is most known for the CD-covers he designed. He is currently based in Epsom (citing Wikipedia), but he is from north (and his accent proves it) and he had studied in Newcastle. Emphasizing on his complete alienation from typography, Vaughan expressed several times the importance of teamwork – ‘Collaboration is a key to my work’, he said. Which means, it brings people’s aesthetics to his own. The freedom and the open field he gives to others let him use the talents he does not possess himself and the final product is simply a brilliant combination of different skills. During his college years, a friend of his wanted to form an independent record company. It would need a logo, he said. That is when he started focusing his graphic skills to music. The rebelious 80′s gave him a great opportunity to express and evolve, music was accelerating in numerous directions, not obeying any standard, except originality and rebel.

    His parents encouraged him, he said with sort of appreciation. Typography is what he initially hated, but had to study. I personally love typography, although not certain if I can control it. This person was starting to make an even better and better impression. His love for music and the chemichal reactions it evokes with humans made his figure even more warming for my perceptions. His soft and rasty voice kept explaining and my hand was enchanted and writing.

    Re-contextualizing, re-appropriating. Important words. Using something and bending it under a different concept is not copying. That was his message.

    I do not want to include any images here, this is a pure verbal and a bit personal report on the lecture. Vaughan took a sip and continued. PIXIES? Really? He made so many of their album covers. I had held a Pixies album about two months ago in front of my PC at home, never guessing I could meet its designer. I like this side of the design. When you buy an album it is usually because of the artist and the music itself. But I would not buy an album if I did not like how it looked. The designer has one of the most important roles of all, but stays behind the curtains and the viewer does not even realize there are curtains.

    A part of his lecture remains highlighted in my memory. The combination of ambiguity and mystery in an image is essential, he said. When you look at an image and cannot quite work out what it means and you ‘go out with that hook’.

    Vaughan Oliver has designed for several performers – Cocteaus Twins, Dead Can Dance, Throwing Muses. He works directly with people, the bands, the photographers, the designers. He puts no filters for the people he works with, instead, he gives them an infinite field for experimenting and expressing their own ideas and eventually combines for a brilliant final piece. Also, Vaughan let us know he is no Photoshop-person. He prefers collage, if needed. But the raw material is preferred.

    As an addicted music lover, I must say I saw the connection between the covers and the music they were designed for. This ability of creating images for music has always seem to me as a pure indulgence, I am dreaming of possessing these powers one day as well. I am thankful to Oliver for his lovely and warm lecture, I will always remember it.

  9. Vaughan’ s life in 45 minutes from

    by George Alexander Sampagian Diplas

    The lecture series for GAMSWEN continued last Wednesday. Vaughan Oliver was the lecturer of the week. Vaughan is a British graphic designer, located in Epsom, East London. He presented his portfolio-work, that created during the last 25 years.

    Vaughan Oliver mentioned that during his years back in the university of Newcastle, nobody knew a lot about graphic design. They were starting to explore how design can work effectively and give form to ideas. He thinks him self lucky, that he managed to combine his big love, music, with his job.

    As part of 23 envelope team, he started to design record sleeves for 4AD in 1982 and after being a freelance partner for 3 years he became a full time employee. 4 AD is a record label back in the 80′s, created out of the passion for music and the rebellious movement of post punk.

    Vaughan believes that the most unpleasant incident that happened in music industry was the use of Compact Discs (CD) by the record companies. With CDs the album artworks became smaller. Designers couldn’t create in such a small area. The vinyl replaced by cheap plastic. The industry would never be the same in the future. Could you imagine bands like Pink Floyd, Beatles, Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin and many others without the vinyl albums and the famous artworks?

    One of the many highlights of his career was the collaboration with the band pixies. He created the artwork for several albums of the group. He also designed sleeves for other bands like Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pale Saints and Throwing Muses.

    Unfortunately because of the limited time Oliver had to finish his lecture

  10. Wednesday 18th January 2012: by

    Vaughan Oliver

    Today we had a guest speaker called Vaughan Oliver. He came to speak to us about his work, which was very interesting! i found it especially interesting as he works mainly with record companies to help with the art work on the records packaging. the two main reasons i wanted to get a degree in graphic design was 1) advertising and secondly to design CD covers. there was alot to take notes on and im sure the article will be easy to write due to my interest in his work.

    i found his imput and ideas on graphic design really helpful and inspiring

    Quote : “You don’t have to go very far for inspiration”

    i think to get an even better understanding of him i will do alot more research on him and you can find it on this page

    My lecture notes:

    Lecture 2 18th jan vaughn oliver lecture

    a record sleeve create for david lynch by vaughn oliver.

    an interview with vaughan oliver for compter arts magazine.

    this is an album cover that Vaughan design for the pixies. he stated that because this particular album had a Spanish theme to it he based it around the main words that come to mind but considering the nature of the pixies music he had the model be topless to give it that edge- which i find works brilliantly. its not vulgar at all and tastefully done.

  11. Lecture 2 – 18th January – Vaughan Oliver by

    In todays lecture we was introduced to a man called Vaughan Oliver. Vaughan Oliver is an art director/typographer and has been for the last 30 years. He showed us some of his work and told us how he worked and collaborated. From looking at his work, he is influenced by the music industry and plays around with image and type. He has also worked with many artists, one being the Pixies.
    A piece I remember him showing us was of alcohol bottle labels put on to record covers. He explained how he intended to change the meaning of the design and how and what look he was trying to give.

    He mentioned that ‘connecting the record sleeve with the music makes it powerful.’

    He quoted the above for a record cover he design. He designed a cover using ink and water, making the colors spread and blend into each other. For this piece he also used hand written typography as he felt that this linked with the music and was more affective.

    He works in a very strong and bold way. His work is definitely eye catching; this is because he uses strong images, most being sensual and sexual. This shows in his calendar that he created.
    He also mentioned that other people take the images that he uses in his work, he tells photographers what he wants and the photographers would go take them and bring them back to him for him to choose ones that he could work with. He has also done a project where he involved students and used bit of there work to put a piece of work together.

    Vaughan Oliver showed us a five-minute video at the end of the lecture showing us his best work and then gave students a chance to ask any questions. From what he answered we found out that he designed his own logo in 1988.

  12. ‘Art & Obsession’ Lecture with Vaughan Oliver by

    Graphic Designer and typographer, Vaughan Oliver treated our graphic students to a lecture filled with surprise and history. In the second week lecture Vaughan shared his professional body of work and gave students an insight to his journey of being one of Britain’s most popular designers.

    Music and Art is described by Vaughan as his biggest obsessions. He described music during his early years as revolutionary movement. Born in 1957, the era of pop was growing phenomenally during his childhood. When Vaughan was in college during the 1970′s music was used to create a free state of mind. Post rock independent record companies began to rebel against the image of mainstream music and labels. The era of ‘punk’ had arrived.

    Vaughan spoke about his work with record label, 4AD which enabled him to produce visual identities for releases by many bands, including Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pale Saints, Pixies, and Throwing Muses. The debate of ripping off art was introduced, however Vaughan decribed it as ‘re-contextualising to give it a new meaning. He noticed that he was inspired by the musicians he worked with. Inspiration for album covers would generate from the lyrics, the music and the vision of the artist.

    Visual symbols are used to represent meaning, emotion and character. When making album covers Vaughan highlighted the relation between the front, back and inner sleeve. Designers today are used to using stock images. Vaughan challenges this by using existing print to add more symbolism. On one of his album covers Vaughan displayed layers of duck tape to represent the bands performance at gigs. For example; duck tape is used to organise and protect the wires which are used for stage and instrument setup.

    The lecture came to a close with Vaughan sharing a bit of advice. He told students that ‘Imagery based on trend is worthless’ and during our time in university we ‘better prepare for change and for our minds to change’

  13. Vaughan Oliver – Graphic Art Work by

    Our first guest lecturer was Vaughan Oliver. I was personally very excited for this lecture and I was not at all disappointed. Except when Vaughan had to skip a large portion of his slides due to time restrictions.

    Vaughan started off the lecture by introducing himself and telling us about what he does (and has done) for a living. He said that he is an Art Director, but in the past has worked in various areas or design such as motion graphics and typography.

    Quoting Salvador Dali as his first influential artist Vaughan went on to explain that it was actually his love for music and he’s belief that it is the ultimate art form which is what lead him to become a designer. He wanted to fuse his two loves together and decided that the only logical way he could do this would be to create record sleeves. Fate had a hand to play in the progression of his career as in 1980 he bumped into his friend, Ivo Watts-Russell, who at the time was starting up an record label (4AD). It was an independent label born off of the post punk rebellion where being on an independent label was a sign of defiance and rejecting the idea of conforming to the governments rules. Vaughan asked Ivo for a job and was taken on part time freelance for three years before it became a full time job.

    Vaughan talked to us about the style in which he likes to work. Recontextualizing and appropriation were two words that he used to describe his practice. Changing the meaning of an image by either slightly altering it or simply changing the place in which it is viewed and the audience of which it is viewed by. A simple advert presumably promoting oral hygiene becomes some what seedy and disturbed when reused as an album cover for a rock band. The syringe loses its original connotations of cleanliness and starts to take on a whole new negative meaning. The appropriation aspect of Vaughan’s work came to reference again when he was speaking about how he struggled initially when working with typography. At one point he worked with packaging where he had no option but to learn to work with type, this provoked an idea that he could also subvert typography taking existing type from things such as jam jars and perfume and reuse it in his work.

    Vaughan mentioned that the introduction of the jewel case and the cd to him is the worst thing to happen to design. Saying it takes the one of a kind physical qualities that give the item depth and character.

    He said that he likes to use mystery and ambiguity in his work to create a lasting effect, so that the people who see it walk away wondering what it was or what it meant and become engrossed in the image.

    I won’t talk too much more about Vaughan’s practice as I’m already pretty certain I want to write my featured article on this lecture. I felt that although years and years behind in terms of a skill set I was able to connect with Vaughan in some sense. I personally love the connection between music and graphic design, I find I design better when i’m listening to music and am influenced by the words. I found his style of subverting imagery simular to a piece of work I did the very morning before the lecture which can be found here, where i took stock photos and used them to convey my own meaning. Vaughan talking about how he now works as an art director really inspired me to make it to that level some day myself. I felt his attitude and willingness to experiment really showed in the interesting and unique designs he produced that were both extremely pleasing as pieces of graphic design but also incredibly thought provoking.

  14. ☆Vaughan Oliver: Graphic Art Work by★art-design-in-context/☆gamswen/vaughan-oliver-graphic-art-work/

    ☆Lecture 2!

    Date: 18/01/12
    Lecturer: Vaughan Oliver
    Topic: Graphic Art Work

    Today’s lecture was given by Vaughan Oliver, born 1957. Vaughan is a British graphic designer, typographer & art director who is well known for his work with graphic design studios 23 Envelope and v23. He has worked for many artistes and bands, most noticeably The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Throwing Muses, The Breeders & Pale Saints.

    It was a priviledge to attend a lecture given by one of the prominent figures encompassing graphic design; a person who would give his valuable time to us as young & aspiring graphic designers, to learn from what he has to say. The lecture was full of very interesting facts about himself, the overlapping factors and what aspects influence his artwork- in my perspective, it almost provided a ‘window’ to his mind. It was fascinating to see the way he incorporates different techniques and styles into his designs and has provided me some inspiration for my work!

    The very first question he asked us was ‘Who’s moved by music? Who loves music?’ Immediately I could see this sparked the theme of the lecture. Vaughan stated that music has always been his predominant interest, a major component in his life. A quote from him was very noteworthy to me as I agree with him completely, ‘I love the way it changes my mind, it changes my chemistry, the way it changes my mood, it informs me, some may say it is the highest form of art.’

    I, myself also think that music is one of the highest forms of art. The compostion of the pieces, the different rhythms, tones that constitute the wide range of genres demonstrates how powerful it is. The capability to complete or rapidly change a mood.

    As a teenager, Vaughan had two major interests, a love of art (his favourite artist during that time was Salvador Dali) and of course, his passion for music. He thought what could he do to combine these two loves, or rather ‘obsessions’, the only way he could think of integrating this was to design record sleeves. He goes on to argue that 70% of his work is comprised of designing this, a component being essential to his designs.

    Vaughan talked about the various ways in which he likes to work which included collaborations. A key aspect of his work involves working with people who does things better than he does, he regards this as the best of both estectics and cultures.

    Vaughan’s future career was already constructed in 1980, when he happened to run into Ivo Watts Russell, a friend who was setting up a new record company called ’4AD’. During that period of time, there were a lot of new independent record companies being set up whether it was concerned with revolutions, culturally, economically, or socially. He argues that this set up the opportunity for a ‘rebellion’ where bands lead to record companies and back then, independent record companies were all about the philosophy, state of mind and primarily ‘anti-establishment’. Today, as Vaughan mused, record companies indicate lifestyle and fashion but previously, its main focus was doing something different; moving away from what was considered as ‘mainstream’ and providing an alternative, something he felt strongly towards.

    Vaughan said to Ivo ‘you need a logo, you need record sleeves’, consequently he freelanced for him for three years which lead on to a full time job. He revealed that they shared old fashion values, sense of care, quality, attention to detail. Ivo was focusing on new music which deserved to be out there, his motivation wasn’t to make lots of money. It was to allow other people an opportunity to do music he loved and thought deserved a wider audience. It showed how much he cared about packaging of that music to give Vaughan the job; his first employee.

    Vaughan’s favourite style of working is the method of ‘recontextualisation’, where he reappropriates an existing image and places it in a new format, a new place which produces a new meaning. An example of him taking an image from a book, he inverted it and liked the way it produced new meanings, a whole more erotic aspect. By simply inverting the image, he confirmed the title. Examples of this he argues, may be a band might give you existing images, an advert for toothpaste eg. In a magazine ad advert for toothpaste will have something to do with hygiene but if you put in on a record sleeve and associated it with music, it will give different connotations; a whole different new meaning.

    Vaughan also reveals that when he was in college he barely knew what graphic design was, he studied it for three years and yet only knew one graphic designer ‘Milton Glaser’. He also didn’t understand typography and hated it, stating that ‘it spoilt my illustrations’, literally words that got in the way. Jam packages, baked bean cans were a source of inspiration, seeing the beauty of the typography on the jam labels he took the idea and applied to the record sleeves. ‘Subverting from one format of area of design and putting it in another format, gives it another meaning.‘

    The independent record companies and the fashion and lifestyle magazines gave young designers ideas which then lead to the huge boom that spread the word of what graphic design was. When Vaughan was at college not many people knew what graphic design was, his parents didn’t know either.

    Vaughan worked closely with the Pixies which established a close relationship, ‘one of the best relationships I’ve had with a band’ he muses.

    He says he listened to the music which he produced covers for, same as people wouldn’t produce a cover without reading the book. He states that it is easy producing a record sleeve, adding an image and typography but if it doesn’t have a connection with the music then it is meaningless and has ‘no substance’.

    Vaughan likes to experiment with different tools and materials to produce the album covers, some techniques include aerosol, spray paint and hand drawn typography.

    He likes to do work that stand out as he says that work which is ‘on trend and fits in’ is ‘crap’ as ‘where do you stand?’ Find your own voice though he agrees that it is easier said than done and how do you progress if you stand in?

    Working with narrative-he works with two tools, ambiguity and mystery. Vaughan says if there is one key that runs through album work is that ambiguity is a bleak way of seeing. He says that you can be totally struck by an image yet you don’t totally understand it, therefore two factors he incorporates into his work.

    His preferance of working is without the usage of photoshop & editing, if you could get everything in one shot then no manipulation is needed. He likes that as there seems to be something more vital about the piece and possesses greater meaning, something he could see the life in without the life being taken out by the layer and layer of photoshop.

    Vaughan admits that he knows it seems ‘mad’ that all his working life is dedicated to producing record sleeves but it has given him an opportunity to explore type and image.

    I have immensely enjoyed the lecture given by today’s guest as proven by my essay, coveying my thoughts. I’ve felt that each and every piece of work he produced really possesses significant meaning, how he put a lot of thought in producing record sleeves which literally depict the music styles of the artist/s. It seems easy producing an a record sleeve, put an image and some typography and there you have it, but it would essentially be meaningless if it doesn’t have any relation to the music. As quoting Vaughan ‘something with no substance.’

    I am now very excited for our next lecture by Neil Spiller who would be talking about Surrealism; one of my favourite movements of all time! With my pen and paper in hand ready to take down important notes and write another section conveying my thoughts…

  15. LECTURE 2

    Vaughan Oliver is a British Graphic Designer based in Epsom London and is known for his work in Music more specificity the designing for record covers for bands and artists such as The Pixies and Cocteau Twins on the 4AD label, Scott Walker and many more. He has been work in his field for over 30 years.
    He started the lecture by talking about the role music plays in his work and how it can be used as a tool to inspire and change the mood of the listener, His main reason he became a designer and specificity a designer of record selves was the ability to combine the two thing he loved and obsessed about the most art and music. His favourite artist is Salvador Dali. He also talked about his dislike of typography lessons in school and how he had to follow certain rules when he prefers to break away from such limits as they seem to hinder creativity.

    In the 1980′s he worked with his friend Ivo watts Russell who was just about to set up his own independent record label and Vaughan work as a freelance designer for three years before becoming full time, he worked on designing logos and all promotional material.

    One of the topics he covered really hit home to me when he started to talk about not creating works that follow a trend, and for us a designer to find our own voice this really made me think and look back at the style of 3D works I was creating and I did notice that I was creating works that fitted around a particular trend and from now on I am going to try to develop my own brand that would make me stand out.

    I have enjoyed this lecture and have taken a lot from it.

  16. Vaughn Oliver by

    Vaughn Oliver, a graphic designer, typographer and art director who’s also dabbled in motion graphics gave a really interesting talk which was very enjoyable. Oliver talked about the work he’s done since he broke into the industry and gave some tips about what it takes to be a great designer.

    Oliver started out by doing record sleeve design, where he combined the mediums of illustration and photography to create impactful designs. He talked about how different music can affect the moods of people but at the same time inform them of what the artist was trying to achieve. Oliver has had a very interesting artistic life, taking advantage of the opportunities that arose for him. His methods often included Recontextualisation- reconstructing an existing image & applying it to a design; re-reading an image. Oliver has also used photography, spray paint, ink & water- experimentation with different media to create a powerful piece of work. He also used hand-drawn typography- as it ties in with the image i.e. becomes part of it.

    Where do ideas come from?

    A question that artists from any medium always get asked. What inspires you to do what you do? Inspiration is always there – it can come from any source…whether it be existing works, your favourite artists or people and mentors. Oliver’s mentor was a man named Terry Dowling, who served as his graphic guide. David Lynch, a film maker was one of Vaughn’s inspirations, as his work included a lot of dark themes that contained sinister connotations. His work was very surrealistic, as well as fetishistic with nervous, scratchy typography. The way this guy worked was very reflective of the music at the time. He also found some inspiration in the form of fashion designer the late Alexander McQueen.

    A part I found really interesting was when he spoke about finding your own identity- something that is really hard to do as an artist. Collaborating and working with others without killing each other can be very good for any artist as everyone on the team will bring a different aesthetic and bring something new and exciting to the table- everyone can learn something from everyone else. Going against the grain and doing something different than the norm will always make you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed than if you follow the group of automatons and stick to the mainstream. Inspiration is always right there if you’re willing to see & feel it. The exploration of genres and methods/ techniques e.g. fashion, mixed media can always add a new twist to work and allow you to get over that artists’s block-embracing visual freedom can allow you to take yourself as well as your art to new levels. ‘Find your own voice- don’t always do things on trend- Where’s the progression?’ were some very lasting words from Oliver.

    What I also found interesting was that your image can really stand out if the audience doesn’t quite get the meaning of the piece. The Whole theme may not reveal itself completely – ambiguity & mystery- raises questions and answers. It stays with you longer when you can’t quite work it out than if you get it all straight away as it will keep nagging at you and you will keep revisting the piece, seeing a new element or feeling something completely different each time.

    So far, I felt that Vaughn Oliver has given one of the most intersting lectures, not only entertaining me with his lively, energetic samples of work but also giving information that will stay with the serious artist for the rest of their life.

  17. Lecture 1 18.01.2012 by

    Posted by am757 on February 14, 2012
    Today we had our first lecturer (Vaughan Oliver) speaking for us he is a graphic designer that done so many records’ label for bands such as (Throwing Muses, Pixies and many more) and he has been in this job more than 30 years.

    The whole lecture was about his story of becoming a graphic designer and how he got a job and his designs for record’s labels, during the lecture he explained to us why he designs for record’s labels because it is the combination of two things that he really loves and they are music and art then he showed us so many of his work and designs for some of them he explained how he made them or what was his inspiration for that particular design.

    But as for me that didn’t happen to listen to one or two records (old big records) in my whole life and being in the twenty first century mostly saw CD or DVD with the cover that most of the time are the picture of the singer or the band in maybe a dramatic pose or if they are female usually with pictures that some people call sexy!!

    There is also many music bands that use design on their cover as well but those are very rear or most of us (I included) don’t pay that much attention to them, what’s the purpose of having covers? (Vaughan Oliver) said that they can be used as a tool to inspire and change the mood of the listener, I agree with him 100%.

    All of us when we want to buy a music it is of course the music itself that we pay for but has it ever happened to you when you look at a cover and then feel you better listen to it then you find a music or band that you like but you didn’t know before? I think all covers should be like this.

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