|2005 Interview with Laurence Stevens of LSD Studio
|Laurence Stevens is the graphic designer responsible for all of Eurythmics' album
artwork and sleeve designs - a unique collaboration that has spanned nearly 25
years. Click here to read his interesting bio and here to see the stunning and
just-released promo posters that Laurence designed. Currently Laurence has been
working on the much-anticipated Eurythmics album remasters and Ultimate Collection
CD, due for worldwide release in early November 2005. He is also currently
involved with a Eurythmics Art & Design exhibition which will be on display at the Air
Gallery in London for 5 days starting on November 1, 2005. The exhibition may
travel to other countries as well in the coming months. I asked Mr. Stevens if he
wouldn't mind answering a handful of short questions about his involvement with
Eurythmics and with the new remasters, and he agreed.
How did you get your start in the graphic design business and how did you initially hook up with Eurythmics?
I FIRST MET ANNIE & DAVE IN SEPTEMBER 1982. I HAD JUST OBTAINED MY GRAPHIC DESIGN DEGREE
AFTER STUDYING FOR A BA [HONS] GRAPHIC DESIGN DEGREE AT THE 'LONDON COLLEGE OF PRINTING'.
I HAD BEEN OUT OF COLLEGE FOR AROUND THREE MONTHS. I WANTED TO DESIGN RECORD SLEEVES SO
I WAS TAKING MY PORTFOLIO AROUND TO EVERY RECORD COMPANY IN THE HOPE OF GETTING TO
WORK WITH ONE OF THEIR ARTISTS. I MANAGED TO ARRANGE A MEETING WITH RCA RECORDS ON THE
SAME DAY THAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THE EURYTHMICS NEW SINGLE. I MET
ANNIE & DAVE AT THAT MEETING, AND SHOWED THEM MY WORK. THEY LIKED WHAT I DID, WE HIT IT OFF
STRAIGHT AWAY, SO THEY ASKED ME TO DESIGN THE SLEEVE FOR 'LOVE IS A STRANGER'. SO THAT BECAME
THE FIRST RECORD SLEEVE I EVER DESIGNED AND THE FIRST HIT FOR EURYTHMICS.
Did you collaborate with Annie and Dave to come up with certain sleeve or album designs, or were you given free reign
to design things yourself, with final approval coming from Dave and Annie?
IT VARIES FROM ALBUM TO ALBUM. EACH PROJECT IS DIFFERENT. SOMETIMES
I WILL SIT DOWN WITH ANNIE AND TALK ABOUT THE NEW LOOK AND FEEL FOR
THE ALBUM. SOMETIMES I WILL PRESENT IDEAS TO THEM BASED ON THE ALBUM
TITLE. SOMETIMES WE WILL SEE A PHOTOGRAPHER'S WORK AND FEEL THAT IT'S
RIGHT FOR THIS ALBUM. I DON'T ALWAYS GET A CHANCE TO LISTEN TO ALL OF
THE SONGS BECAUSE NORMALLY THE ALBUM IS STILL BEING RECORDED WHILE I
AM WORKING ON THE ALBUM SLEEVE DESIGN. FOR EXAMPLE, THE NEW SINGLE
SLEEVE FOR THE SONG "I'VE GOT A LIFE" WAS DESIGNED BY ME IN LONDON
WHILE ANNIE & DAVE WERE IN L.A. RECORDING THE SONG AND I WORKED WITH
A PHOTOGRAPH THAT THEY HAD ALREADY TAKEN IN L.A. DAVE SENT ME THE
IMAGE AND SAID THAT THEY WANTED TO USE THAT FOR THE SINGLE SLEEVE.
I PRESENTED THEM WITH A SERIES OF DESIGNS WHILE THEY WERE RECORDING
THE TRACK AND THEY CHOSE THE DESIGN THAT THEY WANTED TO USE FROM MY
VISUAL IDEAS EVEN BEFORE THE SONG HAD BEEN FINISHED. IN FACT IT WAS
ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE CALLED 'I'VE GOT A LIFE [IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT'S
MINE] AND THAT'S WHAT APPEARED ON THE FIRST SINGLE SLEEVE DESIGNS THAT
I PRESENTED TO ANNIE & DAVE!
Eurythmics fans know of the now-infamous photos for the “Be Yourself Tonight” album cover that were scrapped in
favor of video stills. Will photos from that scrapped shoot be included in the liner notes of the re-release of “Be
YES THERE WILL BE A FEW IMAGES FROM THE ORIGINAL PRESS SHOOT IN THE
RE-PACKAGED ALBUM SLEEVE BOOKLET. I WOULDN'T CALL IT 'SCRAPPED'
ART WORK. DAVE AND ANNIE HAVE NEVER COMPROMISED ON THEIR VISUAL
STYLE AND HOPEFULLY I HAVEN'T EITHER ON THE DESIGNS THAT I'VE CREATED
FOR THEM. ONE EXAMPLE OF THIS IS THE SLEEVE FOR 'BE YOURSELF TONIGHT'
THAT YOU REFER TO. WE DID DO A PHOTO-SHOOT FOR THE ORIGINAL ALBUM
COVER OF 'BE YOURSELF TONIGHT' WHICH SHOWED ANNIE & DAVE WEARING
'BIRD MASKS', IT LOOKED GREAT BUT WAS TOO CONTROVERSIAL AT THE TIME.
WE ENDED UP SHOOTING THE SLEEVE IN L.A. FOR 5 WEEKS. NONE OF THOSE
IMAGES WORKED OUT. AND DAVE ENDED UP TAKING THE PICTURE OF ANNIE
THAT APPEARS ON THE FRONT OF THE 'BYT' ALBUM SLEEVE OFF OF A MONITOR
SCREEN IN THE CHAIRMAN'S OFFICE AT RCA IN LONDON! SO IT WASN'T AS
THOUGH THE ORIGINAL IDEA WAS REJECTED, IT JUST CHANGES OVER THE
PERIOD OF THE ALBUM PROJECT. AND ALSO LIKE A LOT OF CREATIVE PEOPLE,
BOTH DAVE & ANNIE CHANGE THEIR MINDS DURING A PROJECT BECAUSE THEY
ARE ALWAYS LOOKING TO GET THE BEST IMAGE AND STYLE FOR THAT ALBUM.
Personally speaking, out of all of the ones you have done for Eurythmics, what is your favorite sleeve or album artwork?
THE ALBUM COVER FOR 'SWEET DREAMS [ARE MADE OF THIS]' WILL ALWAYS
BE AN IMPORTANT SLEEVE FOR ME BECAUSE IT WAS MY FIRST EVER ALBUM
SLEEVE TO DESIGN AND IT SPAWNED EURYTHMICS' BIGGEST AND MOST WELL
KNOWN HIT SONG. BOTH 'WE TOO ARE ONE' AND 'PEACE' ARE FAVOURITE
COVERS FOR ME AS I LOVED WORKING WITH BOTH JEAN BAPTISTE-MONDINO
AND RICHARD AVEDON WHO TOOK THE ALBUM SLEEVE IMAGES. THE
PHOTOGRAPHS WERE FANTASTIC TO WORK WITH AS A DESIGNER. AND ALSO
FOR 'PEACE' ALBUM TO NOT HAVE A PICTURE OF ANNIE ON THE FRONT COVER
WAS CREATIVELY VERY INTERESTING TO WORK ON FOR ME. OF COURSE I ALSO
LIKE THE ALBUM COVER FOR 'TOUCH' AS IT'S SO WELL KNOWN AS AN ALBUM
SLEEVE. AND FOR THE FACT THAT ALL OF THE TYPE AND LETTERING FOR THAT
SLEEVE WAS DESIGNED BY HAND, AND STILL LOOKS GOOD TODAY.
What was the hardest album or sleeve to design graphics for, in terms of getting just the right image and feel to put
forth whatever Dave and Annie were trying to convey?
MY ROLE AS THE 'EURYTHMICS' ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER [OR FOR ANY OF THE OTHER BANDS THAT I DESIGN ALBUM CD
PACKAGING FOR] IS TO CREATE A VISUAL IMAGE FOR THE BAND'S ALBUM SLEEVE. THIS IMAGE/GRAPHICS WILL FORM
THE BASIS OF THE PACKAGING FOR THE NEW SONGS THAT THE BAND ARE RELEASING. I NEED TO CREATE A VISUAL
STYLE OR BRAND FOR THE ARTIST THAT CAN BE USED TO ADVERTISE THEIR NEW ALBUM AND WILL BE SEEN AROUND
THE WORLD TO PROMOTE THE VISUAL STYLE AND LOOK OF THE BAND. THESE DESIGN IDEAS CAN COME FROM THE
TITLE OF THE ALBUM OR FROM ONE OF THE SONGS FROM THE NEW RECORD. THIS WORK TAKES THE FORM OF
COMMISSIONING THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND WORKING WITH HIM ON ART DIRECTING THE PHOTO-SHOOT BASED ON THE
VISUAL IDEAS AND 'LOOKS' THAT I HAVE DISCUSSED WITH THE BAND. THE WHOLE CREATION OF THE SLEEVE DESIGN
INVOLVES A NUMBER OF PEOPLE INCLUDING MYSELF AND THE PHOTOGRAPHER, THERE IS THE ARTIST, STYLIST, AIR AND
MAKE-UP TEAM, PROPS, SET BUILD, LOCATION SCOUT, DIGITAL RETOUCHER, PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANTS ETC ........
ONCE THE PHOTO-SHOOT HAS FINISHED. I THEN HAVE TO DECIDE WHICH IMAGES WILL BE RIGHT FOR THE ALBUM OR
SINGLE DESIGN. I DO THIS BY CREATING A SERIES OF MOCK-UP DESIGN VISUALS TO SHOW THE BAND AND WE THEN
DISCUSS THE VARIOUS DESIGN OPTIONS, BASED ON THE BAND'S CHOICES FROM THE PHOTO-SHOOT. I DON'T HAVE A
HARDEST 'EURYTHMICS' PROJECT, THEY'VE ALL BEEN INCREDIBLE TO WORK ON. BOTH DAVE AND ANNIE MAKE EACH
PROJECT THAT WE WORK ON TOGETHER VERY INTERESTING AND EXCITING. AND ALSO IT'S A LOT OF FUN WORKING
Sony BMG has announced that all of the remastered albums will feature “refreshed” artwork. What exactly is involved
in the process of refreshing artwork?
IT HAS BEEN STRANGE AND EXCITING, RE-DESIGNING ALBUM SLEEVES THAT I ORIGINALLY DESIGNED SOME
20 ODD YEARS AGO FOR THE BAND. ESPECIALLY AS SOME OF THOSE ALBUM SLEEVES WEREN'T DESIGNED USING A MAC
COMPUTER, BUT WERE DESIGNED ON THE DINING-ROOM TABLE IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE .... BEFORE COMPUTERS WERE
AVAILABLE TO DESIGNERS. ALSO WITH THE RE-ISSUE PROJECT, IT ALLOWED ME TO GO INTO THE VAST EURYTHMICS
ARCHIVE THAT I HAVE PUT TOGETHER OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, AND PULL-OUT UNSEEN IMAGES TO INCLUDE IN THE
NEW CD BOOKLETS FOR THE OLD ALBUMS. I HAVE SO MUCH MATERIAL WE COULD HAVE MADE EACH ALBUM SLEEVE
BOOKLET AT LEAST 40 PAGES.......
This is something I’ve always personally wondered about – there is a graphic in the liner notes for the “Revenge”
album that looks like a sort of cursive letter R and letter E interwoven together. It looks like an R-E, the first two
letters of Revenge. What exactly is it? Does it have any meaning (if any)?
NO IT DOESN'T REALLY HAVE ANY MEANING. IT REFERS TO THE FIRST LETTER OF THE BAND REALLY AND IS JUST USED
AS A GRAPHIC TO FILL THE WHITE SPACE. LIKE A LOT OF THE EARLY LETTERING IT WAS HAND DRAWN AND WORKED
VERY WELL AS A 'FLOURISH' TO ENHANCE THE PACKAGE DESIGN.
What other projects is LSD involved with at the current time? Are you working with any other bands or are you
involved in something outside of music as well?
I'M WORKING ON A NUMBER OF OTHER PROJECTS AS WELL, INCLUDING SOME INTERESTING FASHION PROJECTS. THIS
IS AN AREA THAT I WOULD LIKE TO DESIGN MORE FOR. I'M ALSO CURRENTLY WORKING ON DESIGNING THE ALBUM
SLEEVE FOR A FANTASTIC NEW BAND CALLED 'AIRMAN' AND A NEW ARTIST ON POLYDOR RECORDS CALLED 'VITTORIO'.
I'VE ALSO BEEN CREATING GRAPHICS AND LOGOS FOR A NUMBER OF T-SHIRT RANGES FOR 'I NEED STYLE', 'EXTRA NYC',
'AMANDA GREY', AND 'WAREHOUSE'. WE'VE ALSO RECENTLY COMPLETED THE NEW ALBUM & DVD SLEEVE DESIGN FOR
THE LIVE ALBUM BY MUSE CALLED 'HULLABALOO'.
|Brand-new promo posters - look here
|The promo single for
I've Got A Life
Be Yourself Tonight, 1985
(Are Made of This),