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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > May-18 > POP ART: AREA

POP ART: AREA

RICHARD SMITH’S CREATIVE OUTPUT INCLUDES A DIVERSE RANGE OF CLIENTS AND STELLAR COLLABORATIONS. AS HALF OF THE DESIGN DUO, AREA, THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER’S IMPRESSIVE POP PORTFOLIO WAS HUGELY INFLUENTIAL IN THE 90s.

How did you get involved with design and was it always your intention to work in the field of sleeve art?

When I was finishing my last year of school in Guildford I spent much of my free time at the local record store or working on a fanzine called Catcrap with a friend. This became the gateway to the rest of my career.

I was on the verge of leaving school and looking to go to college, but had no clue what I wanted to do. Fortuitously, my school career guidance counsellor said: “If you like fanzines why don’t you do this graphic design course at Guildford Technical College?” Within a few months, I enrolled on a City & Guilds course in Design For Print. I was infatuated by the work of Peter Saville and his work married my obsession with Joy Division and New Order with my emerging design sensibilities. At the end of the course, I signed up to do a HND at the London College of Printing. Then, once I had graduated, I had to start looking for a job.

A friend of my older brother worked at Pentagram and I started a brief internship there. My brother’s friend gave me a list of agencies that Pentagram worked with to help me search for a job. One of those agencies was Peter Saville Associates (PSA). When I called them, Peter answered the phone arranged a meeting. On the day of my interview I waited several hours for him to arrive (I later realised this was ‘normal’ for him) and at the end of our very interesting conversation, I was offered a job.

What was the first sleeve design commission for you after the formation of your own design studio, Area, at the end of the 80s?

It was Personal Jesus, the first single from Depeche Mode’s 1990 album, Violator. For Personal Jesus, Anton Corbijn created the entire cover sleeve as a square painting, which we photographed. This approach became challenging when the record company asked for a cassette version or a rectangular in-store poster… anything that wasn’t square.

For the follow-up single Enjoy The Silence, I asked Anton to break it down into components that I could move around, colourise, edit and so on. Most of the ideas came from Anton, but, the more I worked with him, the more we discussed ideas. At the beginning of every new album he usually had a very clear idea about what he wanted to do. However, as I gained his trust, he leaned on me increasingly to do more of the design.

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About Classic Pop

In the new Classic Pop we celebrate 30 years of Kylie Minogue – from the PWL early days through to the iconic noughties classics and her new No.1 album, Golden. We also take an in-depth look at Kylie’s Fever for our Classic Album feature. As a special treat for Kylie fans, we have an exclusive limited edition special fan pack issue of the magazine available with four fantastic A4 glossy art cards of the star. Subscribers will receive an exclusive version of the issue with a collectable cover. Elsewhere, we are granted a rare audience with Scritti Politti's Green Gartside, we serve up our Top 15 sophisti-pop albums of all time and Prefab Sprout feature in The Lowdown. We chat to Kim Appleby about her new TV show and the prospect of new music; Sophie Ellis-Bextor talks to us about her new album of orchestral reworkings of her back catalogue and Daphne & Celeste return to the pop fray. Our album reviews section features Sting and Shaggy, CHVRCHES and Alison Moyet. This month’s reissues section includes John Foxx, The Human League and Brian Eno. On the live front, we check out gigs by Erasure, Morrissey, Paul Weller and Lloyd Cole.