‘Art & Obsession’ Lecture with Vaughan Oliver

Graphic Designer and typographer, Vaughan Oliver treated our graphic students to a lecture filled with surprise and history. In the second week lecture Vaughan shared his professional body of work and gave students an insight to his journey of being one of Britain’s most popular designers.

Music and Art is described by Vaughan as his biggest obsessions. He described music during his early years as revolutionary movement. Born in 1957, the era of pop was growing phenomenally during his childhood. When Vaughan was in college during the 1970’s music was used to create a free state of mind. Post rock independent record companies began to rebel against the image of  mainstream music and labels. The era of ‘punk’ had arrived.

Vaughan spoke about his work with record label, 4AD which enabled him to produce visual identities for releases by many bands, including Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pale Saints, Pixies, and Throwing Muses. The debate of ripping off art was introduced, however Vaughan decribed it as ‘re-contextualising to give it a new meaning. He noticed that he was inspired by the musicians he worked with. Inspiration for album covers would generate from the lyrics, the music and the vision of the artist.

Visual symbols are used to represent meaning, emotion and character. When making album covers Vaughan highlighted the relation between the front, back and inner sleeve. Designers today are used to using stock images. Vaughan challenges this by using existing print to add more symbolism. On one of his album covers Vaughan displayed layers of duck tape to represent the bands performance at gigs. For example; duck tape is used to organise and protect the wires which are used for stage and instrument setup.

The lecture came to a close with Vaughan sharing a bit of advice. He told students that ‘Imagery based on trend is worthless’ and during our time in university we ‘better prepare for change and for our minds to change’


One comment on “‘Art & Obsession’ Lecture with Vaughan Oliver

  1. Very good commentary on Vaughan Oliver (born 1957) is a British graphic designer based in Epsom, South of London. Oliver is most noted for his work with graphic design studios 23 Envelope and v23.[Both studios maintained a close relationship with record label 4AD between 1982 and 1998 and were to give distinct visual identities for the 4AD releases by many bands, including Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pale Saints, Pixies, and Throwing Muses.




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