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Jonathan Barnbrook Talks Bowie Artwork
Laurie Tuffrey , January 8th, 2013 10:43

Cover artist covers background of new LP sleeve in blog post

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If you haven't already seen it, the artwork of David Bowie's just-announced new album The Next Day takes the cover of his 1977 masterwork "Heroes", and places a whopping great white square over the top of it, on top of which is the album title, underneath the older LP's stricken-through name. And it looks ace.

Jonathan Barnbrook, the designer behind the sleeve, has just posted on his blog, answering a few questions about the ideas behind it.

"The Heroes cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is ‘of the moment’, forgetting or obliterating the past," says Barnbrook, who previously designed the cover of Bowie's 2002 album Heathen.

Talking about today's newly-released track, he writes about why they chose "Heroes" as the base for the design: "[T]he new album is very contemplative and the "Heroes" cover matched this mood. The song 'Where Are We Now?' is a comparison between Berlin when the wall fell and Berlin today. Most people know of Bowie’s heritage in Berlin and we want people to think about the time when the original album was produced and now."

Touching on the literary touchstones of the album's title, he says: "The Next Day evokes numerous reference points, notably Macbeth’s speech ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow’, which deals with the relentless onward push that any unnatural position of power requires. It also has the existential element of Waiting For Godot with waiting for The Next Day – these all seem to question the nature of existence so a monochrome palette seemed most appropriate to this feeling."

Finally, Barnbrook writes "[O]ften the most simple ideas can be the most radical. We understand that many would have preferred a nice new picture of Bowie but we believed that would be far less interesting and not acknowledge many of the things we have tried to discuss by doing this design." Choice well made, we think you'd agree.

Read the post in full here.

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Rre@ert.c
Jan 8, 2013 6:57pm

Perfect album cover. If I was to make one minor suggestion it would be to delete the "heroes" text entirely for the album release proper

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Jeff
Jan 8, 2013 7:14pm

In reply to Rre@ert.c:

I agree. This is a daring album cover. It's a [more] successful take on what some of Bowie's contemporaries have tried to do.

Roger Waters, take notes.

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Thomas Mann Dem
Jan 8, 2013 11:20pm

Doesn't bode well. If Bowie needed some hapless ape to lash together a cover in the sytle of John Baldessari he should have gone to a CSM first year show.

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