Preview: Spin: the art of cover design, Arts Gallery, London

The designers who struck up the brand
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The Independent Culture

The designer Peter Saville, whose Factory Records artwork included Joy Division and New Order album covers, knows more about the art of record sleeve design than most. Along with Dylan Jones, the editor of British GQ, and Faris Rotter, the lead singer of The Horrors, who recently created album artwork for The Charlatans, Saville has chosen some of the best LP cover art of the past 40 years for this show of work by former students of University of the Arts London.

Personal favourites of Saville's include the German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg's image of a London tower block for The Streets' Original Pirate Material. "A good cover feels of the now and is on the wavelength of the music," says Saville. "You encounter it in the store and think, 'I like this.' You don't know the music, but it turns out to be what you hoped for."

Saville stopped doing covers full-time in the Eighties, but kept his hand in from time to time thereafter. "When I did covers for Suede's Coming Up and Head Music, it quoted teen culture of the 1970s. What was a nostalgic fantasy for Suede was a reality for me," he says. "I have never been given a brief by a record company, except in 1986, when I was told to bring Peter Gabriel forward as a personality. He was the type to hide behind a tree for a photo shoot, as he didn't want to be a pop star.

"One of the things I pioneered was an understanding of the packaging of music as a life project; it wasn't just about an iconic image on the front. It was the experience of owning something. Record covers are the art collections of young people. It is as important to people as it is choosing the right handbag."

Other work in the show includes Aaron Hinchion and Matt Gibbins's design for Hard-Fi's Stars of CCTV, which features a black CCTV camera against a yellow background; Hege Saebjornsen's sultry shot of Adele for 19; and Julian Balme's numerous sleeves for The Clash.

Charlotte Cripps

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