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As the visual mastermind of the 4AD label, Vaughan Oliver designed some of the most artful sleeves of the 80s and 90s. Murray Stassen finds out how the label’s organic aesthetic evolved…

Most of the artists and photographers we’ve featured in these pages are freelancers who have worked for a variety of clients over the years. Vaughan Oliver is an exception, a man whose work – over more than three decades – has been largely commissioned by and become synonymous with one label alone: 4AD.

Working alongside colleagues such as photographer Nigel Grierson and Chris Bigg as 23 Envelope and later v23, Oliver pioneered an instantly recognisable style of sleeve design – at times otherworldly and mysterious, often striking, and usually featuring immaculately styled typography. He’s a unique sleeve designer with a body of work that can genuinely be described as beautiful, and his style was crucial in positioning the label at the artier end of the UK independent scene.

Unlike other designers who became sidetracked into a career in the music industry, Oliver had decided as a teenager that he wanted to design record sleeves. “It was in my thoughts before I started out, really,” he reveals, sat in his archive at The University For The Creative Arts in Epsom, where he teaches as a visiting professor.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Jul-18
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