Vaughan Oliver 1957-2019

I just read some sad news today. One of my art heroes has died at the age of 62. Vaughan Oliver has provided constant inspiration for me. Through his design company, Envelope 23, sometimes simply designated as v23, his design and type face work along with Nigel Grierson’s photography provided insights to the music of the albums it graced adding to an enriched music listening experience. If you do not recognize his name you surely would recognize some of his works. He leaped into the public imagination with artwork and graphic designs for the 4AD label in it’s founding years. Each album cover was different and would often have surreal qualities to it. He designed such memorable covers for The Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Pixies, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil and many, many more. I remember back in the 1980’s and 90’s I would love going to the record store and seeking out 4AD albums just for the artwork even when I knew nothing of the bands or the music inside. It was always an adventure and the music never let me down.

“My goal was always to turn music into an object, granting it a physical dimension,” Oliver said in an interview with online publication O Magazine.
And even in the digital age when physical artwork is on the decline he still championed album artwork and design saying, “The cover, even if it has no physical presence, is another music tool,” he said.“That’s why there are still covers today that are very … true. Any cover capturing and expressing the state of mind of the music it represents is true.”

He has been a constant inspiration and will continue to have a lasting influence on album art and design.   Thank you Vaughan.

You can check out this artwork at the Envelope 23 Tumbler page by clicking on the link below.

Vaughan Oliver R.I.P.