Paul McCartney: Collector’s Edition coverbomb (detail)

Work / Publication

Collector’s Edition author on Nick Cave and Paul McCartney’s “coverbombs”

Back in August, Thames & Hudson published Collector’s Edition, a stunning book collecting collector’s editions of music and literature releases. Now, to continue the rather meta trajectory of the original, the book’s author and creative director, Stuart Tolley, founder and director at creative agency Transmission, has released a collector’s edition of Collector’s Edition in the form of an “artist cover bomb” series, which has seen ten artists whose work appears in the book decorate a copy, and which will be sold in an online auction to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society. He talks us through the “very loose” brief he set the participants, and how it felt for him to have the likes of Paul McCartney and Nick Cave decorating a book he created.

Stuart says: “The list of participating artists is staggering and each were given the same brief ‘to create an original, hand made artwork directly onto the cover of Collector’s Edition, that reflects your artwork featured in the book’.

“Each artist was given free reign to use materials of their choice and the results are all unique to the project."

We asked Stuart to write a few sentences about these one off artworks.

Paul McCartney: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Paul McCartney

I was staggered when Sir Paul McCartney agreed to draw directly onto the cover of my book, he is after all an ex-Beatle and one of the most famous people on the planet. I also really like his thought process for the project. His ‘One Man and His Dog’ cover bomb is a reference to the title of RAM, the artist’s second solo album originally released in 1971 and re-released as a collector’s edition box set a few years ago. The illustration utilises the graphic lines on the cover of Collector’s Edition to create a hatted shepherd and his dog, drawn in red, black and blue pen that reference the colour palette of Wings Over America, originally released in 1976 and also reissued as a box set a few years ago. Paul has also added graphic details from the RAM cover, which are hand drawn and collaged to the cover.


Wayne Coyne: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Wayne Coyne / The Flaming Lips

I first saw Wayne’s contribution when he added work in progress images to his social media networks. The bright psychedelic artwork is incredible and smothers the whole book with every inch being covered. But Wayne didn’t consider it finished until a wax skull, referencing to the Gummy Song Skull music release, and a soap foetus were added. This is more than a cover bomb. The book doesn’t function as a book anymore and is now a unique work of art.


Nick Cave: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Nick Cave

This artwork really made me smile when I first saw it. Nick has reinterpreted the cover photograph of Push The Sky Away, his fifteenth album, which shows Nick himself opening a window shutter to illuminate his naked wife. In his hand drawn illustration he has, interestingly, drawn a more demure image of his wife who is covering herself. The cover bomb is also decorated with lyrics from the album and the date stamp reminiscent of the style Nick uses for his own lyric notebooks, which were beautifully recreated in the limited-edition box set.


Paul McCartney: Collector’s Edition coverbomb (detail)

Alec Soth

This is a really original reaction to the cover bomb brief by the Magnum Collective photographer, as the Collector’s Edition book is still untouched. Instead Alec has recreated the legendary Broken Manual ‘book safe’ – where he hollowed out a secondhand book to hide copies of Broken Manual – inside an old copy of The World History of Photography, which has been hollowed out and surrounded by board.


Peter Gabriel: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Peter Gabriel

I was totally confused when I first opened this package in the studio. The Collector’s Edition book cover was untouched. There was no note to say who it was from and nothing was on the inside pages. It wasn’t until I looked at the back cover and saw the ’Scratch Your Back Too’ illustration, I realised it was Peter Gabriel’s rework of his Scratch My Back box set. It was fantastic that Peter ignored the ‘cover’ aspect of the brief to only work into the back, as it was a much more suitable reaction to his featured artwork.


Jessica Hische: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Jessica Hische

This is a really complete interpretation of the project, as Jessica has hand painted a bespoke ’CE’ lettering, an acronym of Collector’s Edition, directly onto the cover. It is beautifully skilful design which she obviously enjoyed, commenting that she found it addictive.


Stanley Donwood: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Stanley Donwood

One of the highlights of working on Collector’s Edition was interviewing Stanley at his studio, so I was really happy when he agreed to participate in the cover bomb project. For his artwork Stan has hand painted a striking black design, inspired by details from the Atom’s For Peace, Thom Yorke’s music side project, AMOK cover artwork.


The Designers Republic: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

The Designers Republic

This unique graphic composition by The Designers Republic is in stark contrast to the hand painted, illustrative style of all other cover bomb’s and works beautifully. The design is an interpretation of the Autechre Exai album box set, designed by TDR, and is created by hand cutting black vinyl which is applied onto the book cover.


Oliver Jeffers: Collector’s Edition coverbomb

Oliver Jeffers

The cool blue is great against the original cover paper stock and I really like the way the paint has seeped into the graphic lines on the cover of Collector’s Edition. Oliver has replicated a paint mark and drip detail from the cover of his monograph Neither Here Nor There box set that partially covers a female face. This detail is given centre stage and is decorated with scientific and mathematical symbols that feature in Oliver’s paintings.