• 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. Fantastic-man-list

    Fantastic Man magazine has been redesigned, as shown in its teaser image of its tenth anniversary issue. The magazine’s new issue cover star JW Anderson has shown the new cover on Instagram, which reveals a new design seeing the masthead run vertically and horizontally, instead of its previous preluder horizontal configuration. The cover image also runs to both sides, moving away from its previous white-edged format. We’re excited to see what changes might have been made to the inside of the mag…

  2. Dwp-bikestock-int-list

    This morning I had a puncture that I couldn’t fix and had to get the train to work, so it feels timely to be writing about Bikestock, a vending machine of cycling essentials that can be found all over New York and Boston. The concept is a simple one; inner tubes, spanners, tyre levers tyres and any number of other little bits and pieces that make your wheels turn smoothly are boshed into a vending machine so you can grab them on the go and, more importantly, at any time of day!

  3. List

    Joost Bos is a recent graduate from the Academie Minerva Groningen in The Netherlands where he’s spent three years studying for his bachelor’s degree. Like many of his Dutch counterparts he’s a dab hand with typography both traditional and experimental and has a plethora of printed pieces in his portfolio. This one, Sequence 1, is an exhibition catalogue for a show of artist books at Joost’s alma mater, which perfectly demonstrates his design sensibilities. Immaculately set type is interspersed with hand-drawn elements and bright colours bring intrigue to an otherwise monochrome publication. Like what you’re seeing? He’s available for freelance work right now!

  4. Sam-coldy-penguin-int-list

    Is it just me or is Penguin killing it at the moment? The publishing house only recently celebrated its 80th birthday by launching a range of its classic titles for 80p each, accompanied by a slick website and a poster campaign which has reached even the furthest corners of London’s transport system. And right now, they’re in the midst of a new campaign called On the Page which celebrates women authors and characters in literary masterpieces.

  5. Karansingh-mop-int-list

    The glorious coming together of pattern, shape and colour makes for a joyous experience and that’s why print designers are held in such high regard. Last week we commissioned Animade to turn three eye-poppingly good Pucci x Orlebar Brown patterns into trippy GIFs, this week we’re turning our attention to profiling creatives we believe are among the best around when it comes to working in this area. We are proud to present these #mastersofprint.

  6. Gerard-marin-int-list

    There’s something of a trend going around at the moment for identities using 3D logo-marks, and with this one by Gerard Marin we can see why. Barcelona-based designer Gerard developed the branding, stationery and corporate materials for interior designer and visual merchandiser Neus Ortiz. Recognisability and malleability were at the forefront of his mind for this project, and the flexible “N,” which changes according to its application, prove a neat solution to both. His is an unfussy aesthetic which lends itself perfectly to branding projects – here’s hoping more make their way to him very soon.

  7. Nike-logo

    There’s a moment in this film where Michael Bierut comes over all Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense as he declares: “ I can see things in typefaces that normal people can’t.” It’s part of his discussion about how “design can be a lonely thing” and that as you immerse yourself in that world “you’re actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Filmed at Design Indaba in South Africa last month, this interesting short film moves onto to look at logos and why designers are so interested in them. Using famous examples like the Nike swoosh and the Target, um, target, Michael explains his theory that we’re drawn to them because they’re primitive and yet we invest them with so much meaning. “A lot of what we see when we’re looking at the logo isn’t really happening in the logo; it happens in our own mind,” he explains.

  8. Emilyoberman-snl-int-hero

    One of the undoubted highlights of this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town was hearing Pentagram partner Emily Oberman detail her long-running work on Saturday Night Live. Emily has worked with the programme for 20 years, creating three separate versions of its identity, various title sequences and even spoof adverts to run in the breaks (like this). Now Emily has teamed up with writer Alison Castle to produce Saturday Night Live: The Book, a 500-page paean to the show which coincides with its 40th anniversary this autumn.

  9. Studio-lin-stampa-int-list

    Sometimes a dead simple idea is all you need to create something really striking. In the case of Studio Lin’s branding of Stampa that simple idea was a rolled up poster. Stampa specialise in limited edition prints produced by some of the best illustrators around – shipped direct to your door. How do they do this? By rolling them up in a poster tube. So what does their logo look like? A pair of rolled-up prints joined at their edges to form an S. Studio Lin also commissioned an entire custom typeface for the brand, but for me it’s that swirling blue S that hits the nail on the head every time. Simple!

  10. Ines-cox-int-list

    Scrolling through what feels like an endless array of projects, it’s difficult to believe that Ines Cox only founded her studio last year. Since parting ways with former partner Lauren Grusenmeyer, co-founder of five-year endeavour Cox & Grusenmeyer, Ines has branched out on her own to establish an eponymous practice based in Antwerp. While she still includes much of her old work with Lauren in her portfolio, her new work demonstrates an exciting and playful approach to typography and innovative poster design.

  11. Dot-dash-flatpack-int-list

    Film festivals and great graphic design go together like Powell and Pressburger; as proven by the identity for Iceland’s Stockfish Film Festival, and Dot Dash’s designs for Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham.

  12. Two-int-list

    Italian studio Think Work Observe designed a pricelist for furniture design company Tacchini and it’s made an already delectable furniture collection even more appealing. Its use of close to fifty shades of grey and austere, considered layout of sofas and chairs gives the publication a lifespan and potential audience you wouldn’t otherwise expect for a brand’s pricelist. Every technical detail in Tacchini’s collection is covered and all on lovely Fedrigoni papers.

  13. Gaggero-ra-annual-report-int-list

    Proving that annual reports don’t have to be painfully dull, here’s a great example of a fab design studio working with a fab client to get all those tricky numbers and things down in a visually engaging, clear and rather beautiful way. Said client is the Royal Academy, and said studio is Gaggero Works, which created the designs around the concept that “the RA is a place where art happens; a place where art is made, exhibited and debated.” The report is split into two books, Accounts and Report, bound together using a bright yellow belly band which adds a much needed line of playfulness under the rather heavy-going subject matter.