In the early-to-late 1980s, British record label 4AD’s visuals had a certain nocturnal, gothic and industrial look and feel that was simple, elegant and occasionally as fragile as moth wings . Most of the covers I recall, used photographs that were black and white or de-saturated color. The fonts were distinctive, the layouts uncluttered. The overall effect was timeless, nothing tied the work to fashion trends of the moment. Which has allowed the label to maintain their “look” throughout the years, even without the contribution of the two guys who were responsible for creating it.
In the 1985 documentary 23 Envelope we are introduced to graphic designer Vaughan Oliver and photographer/filmmaker Nigel Grierson who created the record sleeves for 4AD from 1983-1988. If you’ve seen record jackets for Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Pixies or Cocteau Twins, you’ve seen the work of Olivier and Grierson. The film contains music by 4AD bands of the era covered.