Music to your eyes

Mike Exon tunes into a selection of work by young sleeve designers, who are taking on the music industry on their own terms

People do strange things for their music. They always have. Take the thousand derivatives of pop and you can see tribalism at its most impressive. For music is the cornerstone of youth culture, a symbol of creative conspiracy, representing shared optimism, freedom, experimentation. Music unites.

It is obsession not money that drives the creatives of this profession. While they may not ‘seek’ glamour, these designers rub shoulders with the great and good. Witnessing fame, fortune and lifestyle is prerequisite. But no longer is designing sleeves alone a guarantee of personal celebrity. The halcyon days of Peter Saville, Peter Blake and Malcolm Garrett are gone.

Dividing, swelling, fragmenting – music has changed irrevocably – and with it the needs of the recording artist. Pet theories about an increasing lack of creative freedom, egotism, format fallout and the stifling of underpaid designers is abundant.

But somehow the talented have managed to rise above the constriction. Like their clients and the music that drives them, these creatives reach higher by doing things differently. Nothing else ever matters in quite the same way.

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