• Rr5

    Richard Robinson: for the Klaxons

  • Rr6

    Richard Robinson: for the Klaxons

  • Rr7

    Rochard Robisnon – Portrait by

  • Rr8

    The SONOs Play:3

  • Rr1

    Richard Robinson for Jamie Woon

  • Rr2

    Richard Robinson for Soulwax

  • Rr3

    Richard Robinson for Soulwax

  • Rr4

    Richard Robinson for Soulwax

Graphic Design

Richard Robinson

Posted by Rob Alderson,

The cat in the spacesuit gracing the The Klaxons’ Surfing the Void was one of the best album cover designs of recent years, combining our twin loves of extraterrestial travel and domestic pets. We spoke to Richard Robinson, the designer who has also worked with Soulwax, Jamie Woon and Friendly Fires about his process and his heroes – oh and we’re giving away a limited edition SONOS music player he has produced. Sweet.

Tell us about your process when designing album artwork. Are you constantly listening to the songs while you’re working?



At the beginning of the project I will tend to listen to the music quite a lot, but not over and over, I can’t do that even with my favourite bands. I often need to leave the studio when I’m coming up with ideas, they rarely tend to happen whilst I’m sat at the computer, I’ll only start when I have a clear idea about what it is I want to do, otherwise I just stare at the screen aimlessly.



How much input do the bands have into the process? Is that something you encourage or does that make it quite difficult?



Generally most artist/bands like to play a big part in the process, the occasional few might just let me do as I wish but that’s not very often. Sometimes it’s a good thing not having them involved, but that only works if they’re very open to my ideas. It can actually produce some of the best results when you’re working closely with the bands as they’ll push you in an unexpected direction.

Who’s your favourite album artwork designer of all time? What is about their work you love?

Hipgnosis. They created some of the most iconic sleeves of all time, and much of the charm is because it was pre-photoshop so they’d have these fantastical ideas that they had to actually create for real, whether that be a man on fire (Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here) or melting a polaroid (Peter Gabriel), they always managed to create iconic covers.




Which project that you have worked on did you find most challenging and why?



They all offer up a different set of challenges, sometimes this is simply that you don’t have the budget to do what you want and other times it can be a technical issue. When I was working on the Soulwax artwork (with Trevor Jackson), we spent ages trying to get the right level of legibility with the hidden text, as it was a fine line of creating the optical illusion and not seeing anything at all.

It would also vary depending on the stock that it was on, and the distance you were from the object, so we literally did hundreds of different tests, but it was worth it in the end.

Album artwork seems to be enjoying a renaissance at the moment, why do think this is?

In London it definitely feels that way, if you walk into Rough Trade it’s booming, vinyl everywhere, but outside of London, in the smaller suburbs, there’s hardly anywhere to buy vinyl still, I think there’s room for expansion!

I really like that the labels are now starting to release vinyl with a free download so you have a digital copy; you get the nice big cover artwork and you can still have it for your iPod too.

WIN WIN WIN!

This month, we are giving you the chance to win an exclusive SONOS PLAY:3, designed by Richard Robinson. Richard took his inspiration from SONOS to design this bespoke piece of working art, reflecting the excitement of sharing great music, out loud.

The PLAY:3 compact wireless HiFi System (£259) is easy to set up; simply place the system in any room and discover a whole new world of tracks controlled by a free downloadable app for your smartphone or tablet device. Play all your music from your iTunes library and over 100,000 radio stations, as well as a host of music services such as Spotify – anywhere in the home. For more information please visit www.sonos.com

For your chance to win this unique piece of music art, just answer the following question:

Richard designed the cover for The Klaxons album Surfing the Void but what was the name of the band’s first album released in 2007?

Email your answer to ra@itsnicethat.com with your name and contact details. The competition closes at noon next Friday, February 10, when a winner will be selected at random. (Sorry – UK entries only!)

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    In the October of 2013 Braulio Amado spent (maybe) millions of dollars putting together an elaborate and comprehensive promotional video to sell himself to the graphic design community at large. He wanted commissions, he wanted collaborations, he wanted access to the megabucks – plus he shot actual bullets from his hands at the end.

  2. List

    My colleague Liv Siddall memorably ranted about al fresco cinemas a few weeks back but the FILM4 Summer Screen at Somerset House is undoubtedly one of the best, combining excellent programme curation with genuinely stunning surroundings. It might even escape the Siddall wrath.

  3. List

    I’ve got a confession to make; I’ve posted quite a few people recently that I discovered on the website of a Dutch Risograph studio called Vinex Pers. Viktor Hachmang created their identity and they count some of my favourite illustrators as clients. Their website is packed full of exciting work from fantastic creative talents and I’d like to show you just one more.

  4. List

    In the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at why Shillington College was founded to offer a different kind of graphic design education and heard from some of the teachers at Shillington campuses around the world about how they make this happen in practice.

  5. List

    It’s been a couple of years since we last featured Melbourne-based studio A Friend of Mine so the launch of their brand new website was the perfect chance to celebrate their talents again. Suzy Tuxen and her team were commissioned by new art and design fair Supergraph to create a “strong, industrial and friendly” identity and needed a graphic solution that stood on its own two feet without overshadowing the creative work featured at the event.

  6. List

    This year for the first time ever Istanbul is to be included in the Venice Architecture Biennale, and will showcase the work of five contemporary Turkish artists as curated by Murat Tabanlıoğlu. So how do you go about celebrating your country’s participation in one of the greatest celebrations of architecture? If you’re anything like graphic design studio Future Anecdotes Istanbul, you put together a glorious identity and accompanying publication to celebrate the event.

  7. List

    Marcello Velho is one of a school of graphic artists subverting the forms of internet art that we’re becoming used to seeing, and doing something completely unanticipated with them. His abstract compositions are experimental and ambiguous, but that’s exactly what makes them exciting. He’s a pretty dab hand at design too, working on magazine covers, art directing features and just generally applying his magic touch wherever it’s needed. It’s only a matter of time until a global fashion brand with a wildly cool following happens upon his work and immediately has him applying his learned eye to look books, textile design and event invitations. Just for the record though, we got here first, yeah?

  8. List

    Behold! Dutch illustrator and designer Julian Sirre has a portfolio packed to the gunnels with beautiful futuristic design. His posters and prints take inspiration from 1980s sci-fi, Japanese printmaking and superhero comics, all amalgamated into a wholly unique visual language. He’s worked for Dutch science fiction magazines, London venues and a variety of extraordinary exhibitions including a group show with Jordy Van Den Niewendijk, Viktor Hachmang and Robin van Wijk – all exceptionally cool dudes.

  9. List

    Battersea Power Station is one of my favourite buildings in London (you can add that to the list of things-you-don’t-care-about-which-I-tell-you-anyway-in-these-posts if you like). Anyway this summer it’s hosting the Everyman Cinema and east London’s Bread Collective was brought in to create the branding and hand-paint all the on-site signage. Bread has previous experience when it comes to large scale design work that packs a personality-filled punch and it’s great to see them unleash their talents on such a famous landmark. The bright and lively visuals juxtapose neatly with their industrial surroundings and there’s a consistency that ties the site together without feeling sterile.

  10. List

    My favourite thing about Paris-based design studio Twice is that they continually combine texture and colour in such a way that I’m practically banging my hands into my computer screen with wanting to hold their publications in my hands. That’s the trouble with tactility – it’s not practical – but that shouldn’t mean designers abandon it altogether in favour of a wipe-clean, stark, sterile aesthetic that makes us lose all hope in print.

  11. List

    I was lucky enough to visit Istanbul for its inaugural design biennale back in 2012 and although I was blown away by its creative scene, I didn’t come across too much graphic design. Rummaging through Studio Sarp Sozdinler’s website this week, I had the nagging feeling that I might have missed out.

  12. List

    Belgian graphic designer Broos Stoffels has it all; great poster designs, great typefaces, great Dance Organ-powered drawing machine for the creation of custom vinyl sleeves – no really! The young designer is a former student of Sint Lucas in Ghent, a institution with proven design pedigree, and has spent the last few years honing his practical and conceptual skills into a fantastically coherent body of work.

  13. List

    If you aren’t familiar with The Casual Optimist blog about publishing and book culture then it’s well worth checking out (I’ll wait). Anyway last week its author shared these amazing posters created by the leading German graphic designer Gunter Rambow for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house back in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that some of them tiptoe right up to the edge of being gimmicky, but always stay the right side of the line thanks to Gunter’s unerring image-making brilliance. I really can’t get enough of these.