Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Prying Open The Third Eye: Arik Roper’s Favourite Album Artwork

On the release of a new book bringing together his groundbreaking work, acclaimed graphic artist Arik Roper takes Dan Franklin through twelve of his favourite record sleeves, as well his own illustration for Dopesmoker

Arik Roper, photo by Javier Villegas

Arik Roper is an artist and psychonaut. He has provided the cover artwork for a host of heavy duty and psychedelic albums by Sleep, High On Fire, Earth, Windhand and… The Black Crowes. His style is instantly recognisable, full of vivid landscapes, whether of barren rocks presided over by a winged demon, or a wooded glade where another reality can be fleetingly glimpsed. Like Roger Dean, who he speaks about in this Baker’s Dozen of some of his favourite album covers, he unifies disparate bands under his distinctive aesthetic.

A new monograph of his work, Vision Of The Hawk, brings together his album artwork alongside poster artwork, animation, game design, and much more. It also includes testimony from Roper about his process and contributions from his collaborators, including musicians Stephen O’ Malley, Al Cisneros, Matt Pike, as well as authors Erik Davis, Peter Bebergal, and Jay Babcock.

Asked to pick his twelve favourite covers as well as one of his own for this special Baker’s Dozen, a lot of Roper’s selections hark back to the early seventies, when artists and revolutionary musicians had a symbiotic relationship. They also often demand something of the viewer – whether it’s to gaze longer into their lysergic depths, or to try to answer an ultimately unknowable question.

Aside from being a prolific and accomplished artist and designer, it’s clear that Roper is a true obscure music head and collector. He spoke about delving into krautrock reissues in the late nineties and digging through vinyl bins whenever he could. In the course of writing my book with and about Electric Wizard, guitarist Liz Buckingham told me it was Roper who first played her the Supercoven EP in his apartment, years before she joined the band. He is a facilitator and a conductor of others’ creativity, as well as his own.

Vision Of The Hawk: The Art Of Arik Moonhawk Roper is out now via Strange Attractor.

Dan Franklin’s new book Come My Fanatics: A Journey Into The World Of Electric Wizard is published on 22 June by White Rabbit.

To begin reading Roper’s Baker’s Dozen, click the image of him below.

First Record

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