40 Years After Dark Side: 'Not one of my favourites,' says the man behind the prism

The album's designer talks to Paul Bignell about his creation

The stark but simple image of a prism on a black background is a far cry from the bombast of a giant pig flying over Battersea power station or flaming businessmen. Yet the cover of Pink Floyd's classic 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon is probably one of the most instantly recognisable ever made.

Yet despite bringing its creator, Storm Thorgerson, universal acclaim and the record becoming one of the biggest selling of all time, it doesn't rank as among his favourite designs. "It's not a favourite, pictorially – what we did with it later is more fun," the designer said from his home in north-west London. "To be associated with such an amazing album is great. But from an artistic point of view, I'm more interested in photographs."

Thorgerson, now in his sixties, has been friends with several of the original members of Pink Floyd since their Cambridgeshire school days. After forming the art design group Hipgnosis with another Cambridge native, Aubrey Powell, he went on to produce some of the band's most striking album covers, including the floating pig above Battersea Power station for the album Animals. He has also designed covers for other bands including Led Zeppelin and, more recently, the Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro.

As Pink Floyd began recording The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road studios, they demanded Thorgerson do something different for them compared with his previous covers. Rick Wright, the group's keyboard player, ended up insulting the designer by saying: "Why don't we not have one of your tacky pictures, Storm?"

"I said, 'Well, Rick, tacky pictures is what I do' and I got very huffy about it," he said. "Rick said, 'Let's have something graphic, cool and deliberate.' I was so angry." In the end, the idea came from a shop window.

"I was passing a bookshop and saw an image of a prism. It wasn't the same [as the one on the cover], but I remembered the prism from school and the refracted spectrum and thought maybe that would work. It was about light, which was featured in their show; the triangle is a symbol of ambition which was in the lyrics and the prism is also a common property – except I made one big change. I made the background black and it makes all the difference."

After showing the band several rough designs, which he had worked on with the artist George Hardie, they immediately settled on the prism.

The record brought the band previously unknown wealth, but for Thorgerson, he hints, less so. "It changed their lives drastically, but not mine so much."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum