What if hit records were books? Artist finds hit of his own

February 22, 2013

“Purple Rain” as a sci-fi book? “Abbey Road” as a pastoral page-turner? Radiohead’s “OK Computer” as an instruction manual?

A series of “classic albums reimagined as secondhand paperbacks” has been a hit for magazine art director and music industry designer Christophe Gowans. We had a question-and-answer exchange over e-mail with Gowans, who was busy producing material for an online shop after exposure in Paris Review and online.

What was the first ”cover” in the series?
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” I had a bit of leatherette and half an idea.

When did the idea hit you?
I saw Little Pixel’s rethink of album covers as Pelican/Penguin books from the ’60s, and got to thinking ‘what would the albums look like if they really had been books?’

Are you a bigger reader or audiophile?
No. 50/50

Do you have a favorite in your series? A favorite of the albums you have covered?
My favourite is probably Patti Smith’s “Horses.” The most ridiculously jarring combination, but ‘Patti Smith’ just sounds like the author of such a book.

Where do your musical taste range?
Abba to Zappa… ANY genre has its amazing exponents, people who just nail it, or move it on. All good.

Have you met or sold any of your ”covers” to the musicians themselves?
Nope. Do you think I should? I’m making some pretty lovely screen printed versions now. They’d love ‘em. I’ll get right onto it.

Did you learn about book designers when doing this? Did you develop a favorite?
No new favourites. I have a terrible memory for names, but I soak it all up and as an experienced – and enorrrrmously gifted – designer, capturing the look comes easily. Pure fun.

See more prints by Christophe Gowans here.

David Beard is a writer, editor and director of digital content for The Post. He also edits The Optimist, a weekly e-newsletter, and has been a foreign correspondent.
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