Author: Charlotte Bearn

Art is the New Rock and Roll: The Relationship Between Art and Music

Art and Music have always been two of the most direct and intuitive forms of communication for humankind. When asking artists to cite their influences invariably music will come high up on the list. It is also commonplace for artists to work closely with musicians, producing images directly in response to their music which is seen as a visual extension of the musician’s work.

Even in the age of digital downloads replacing the physical purchase of CDs the most straightforward connection between art and music is still the humble album cover. Despite acclaimed designer Peter Saville (famed for creating the iconic covers for Joy Division and New Order), stating that album artwork was dead, we have seen artists continue to produce stunning works for new albums.

Snow Patrol Fallen Empire


Dan Baldwin is another artist who has recently created a record cover, this time for the single ‘Scream (funk up my life)’ by internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini. Baldwin used a cropped section from his multi-layered original painting ‘Cyclone’. This, however, is not Baldwin’s only link to the music industry; he is managed by Pat Magnarella who also represents the US Punk band ‘Green Day’.

Dan Baldwin Cover ArtDan Baldwin

Pat Magnarella lists several other prominent British artists on his roster, including whimsical painter Charming Baker and the subversive Street Art duo Miss Bugs. Magnarella has taken the promotional business model from rock and roll applied it with great effect to the art world. He also uses the same guerrilla marketing approaches found in music promotion, such as using street teams to hand out thousands of flyers and stick up fly posters when advertising art shows. Magnarella draws comparisons with the two forms of culture:

Whilst some artists look at the music business model as a template for success in the world of art, other artists become more closely associated with the musicians they work with. A prime example of this close working relationship is the one between the artist Stanley Donwood and the British experimental rock band Radiohead.
Stanley Donwood is often referred to as “the 6th member” of Radiohead, having produced virtually every piece of artwork since their 1995 commercial breakthrough album ‘The Bends’ right up to singer Thom Yorke’s 2013 side project ‘Atoms for Peace’. Donwood and Yorke met whilst studying at art school and they still share studio space to this day. Donwood has adapted his artistic style as the band has evolved and each new piece of artwork is as unique and distinctive as the music it accompanies.

Storm Thorgerson, who sadly passed away in 2013, is an example of another artist whose work is intrinsically linked to music and the genre. Thorgesen is famous for his cover designs for the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd. His work was featured on no less than 16 album covers for the band and Thorgersen also produced the band’s music videos and films of their performances.

Storm Thorgerson

Storm Thorgerson’s most well know image was for the seminal release ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in 1973, which remains one of the best selling albums of all time. Produced for the 40th anniversary of the album, Thorgesen reworked the iconic prism design in his limited edition print ‘Dark Side of the Moon 40th Anniversary’, paying homage to other great artists including Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso.

It would be seen as an act of sacrilege to not mention the Godfather of British Pop Art Sir Peter Blake, co-creator of perhaps the most iconic and instantly recognisable album covers ever made, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ by The Beatles. Blake was present in the studio during the recording of the album and even over 40 years later the album and artwork still have great cultural significance.

Peter Blake Sgt. Pepper The Beatles Cover

The worlds of art and Music frequently collide and as a result, they have a tremendous influence on each other. From artists being promoted and marketed in the same way, rock bands have been in the past, to artists working closely alongside musicians to produce work which connects the audio and visual experience. Practitioners from both fields share similar inspiration and creatively feed off each other with spectacular results.


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