Storm Thorgerson was a prominent name in the graphic designing industry. He was popularly associated with the leading music artist of the era, designing their single or album covers. Some such clients of his include Pink Floyd, Genesis, Catherine Wheel, Led Zeppelin and other major rock artists of the century.
Born on February 28, 1944, in Potters Bar, Middlesex, Storm Elvin Thorgerson was descended from Norwegian ancestors. He received his early education from Summerhill School and Brunswick Primary School in Cambridge. Later he attended the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys where the Pink Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters were also enrolled in different years from his. Afterwards, he went on to study at the University of Leicester and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours, majoring in English and Philosophy. He enrolled himself at the Royal College of Art, where he studied Film and Television and received a Master of Arts degree in the subject.
Thorgerson began his professional career with the foundation of graphic art group Hipgnosis, with his partner Aubrey Powell in 1968. The art group was concerned with designing music record covers. They designed numerous famous single and album covers. The dissolution of Hipgnosis was followed by the foundation of Greenback Films by Thorgerson and Powell, filming music videos. Another business venture was launched in early 1990s with the establishment of StormStudios in collaboration with Peter Curzon and a group of freelancers. His work associates took up the responsibility of photography, designing, illustration, creative retouching and prints.
One of the most popular graphic works of Thorgerson includes his album cover for Pink Floyd’s album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It has been declared one of the best album covers of all times designed by him and drawn by George Hardie. Most of Thorgerson’s designs included surreal elements which lent a unique quality to his work. His craft often presented object outside their original context, often wide space placed within them which appeared odd on the surface but held beauty to the design, on the whole. According to Thorgerson photography has an element of reality to it unlike drawing, thus his works project a twist in reality and ask of its viewers whether it is real or not.
Besides the actual practice of graphic designing, Thorgerson and his team published several books based on his artwork and others’. The first book was published in 1989 by the title Classic Album Covers of 60s. His other books appeared sporadically, such as Mind over Matter (1997), 100 Best Album Covers (1999) and Raging Storm (2011). The Gathering Storm – A Quartet in Several Parts is marked as the final book published posthumously in September 2013. The book highlights his journey from Hipgnosis to StormStudios which spanned five decades. Photographs, anecdotes and album covers artwork are featured in his memoir.
Despite Thorgerson’s failing health in his later life, he continued to work with same vigor as before. He suffered a severe stroke in 2003, which paralysed him and was later diagnosed with a cancer. After several years of battling the fatal disease, he eventually passed away in the spring of 2013, aging 69. His death was mourned by his Pink Floyd companions who called him a ‘graphic genius’. Prog Magazine’s award was renamed as Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award in his honour.