Designing the cover for Blur’s new album left designers Chris Thomson and Richard Bull retching.
The two were searching through medical stock libraries looking for an image that conveyed both optimism and scariness – not two emotions often felt together. The rather graphic images encountered may have made their stomachs turn, but it was worth the queasiness.
The shot they plumped for – from Tony Stone Images – graces the front cover and is described by Bull as being ‘an anaesthetic dream’. There was virtually no Photoshopping to be done, plus the Blur logotype is a given and the album’s title is eponymous.
Thomson and Bull worked on all Blur’s artwork during their previous employment at Stylorouge. The two broke away to form Yacht Associates last May. Blur’s previous covers have also involved raiding stock libraries and recycling old pictures in a different environment, to match themes in the group’s music.
The back cover and inside sleeve are by Paul Postle, who was commissioned by Yacht to shoot in the sulphur fields of Iceland. The band was in the Arctic to play, write and record. The back cover image has a hazy, mysterious feel and is reminiscent of early Echo and the Bunnymen covers. The inner sleeve shows more abstract sulphuric images with the Blur logotype embossed, which, along with the rough and recycled paper stock, gives a tactile feel to the whole package.
The gatefold spread is a montage from another Paul Postle shoot, this time in a no frills rehearsal studio. ‘The band was just jamming – they are genuine pictures,’ says Thomson. And the shots have an honesty that echoes the reverse of The Beatles’ Revolver album.
The whole Blur cover is ‘a stripped down process’, says Thomson. ‘All the other Blur covers have had so much going on. This one reflects extremely well what Blur are up to musically.’
Design: Yacht Associates