Probably most noted for his record and album cover designs for Factory Records, Peter Saville is a designer whose career spans several decades.

Born in Manchester in 1955, Peter Saville attended St Ambrose College and later went on to study graphic design at Manchester Met University. Influenced by fellow student, Malcolm Garrett, who had begun designing for the Manchester punk group, The Buzzcocks and by Herbert Spencer’s Pioneers of Modern Typography, Saville found the work mirrored the world-view of the Manchester music scene.

Peter Saville. Credit:

Saville entered the music scene after meeting Tony Wilson, the journalist and TV presenter, whom he approached at a Patti Smith show in 1978. This resulted in Wilson commissioning the first Factory poster. Saville designed a number of record sleeves for Factory Records artists, some of his more notable clients were Joy Division and New Order.

Saville’s output from this period included reappropiation from art and design. He would directly and irrelevantly lift an image from one genre and recontextualise it in another. This can be seen with a Fantin Latour ‘Roses’ painting in combination of a colour coded alphabet which became the album cover for New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies (1983).

New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies (1983). Credit:

In 1979, Saville moved from Manchester to London to become an art director of the Virgin offshoot, DinDisc. He created a body of artwork which furthered his refined take on Modernism, working with artists such as Roxy Music and Duran Duran. He was paid more to design Peter Gabriele’s 1986 album, So, than any other record in his career, receiving £20,000. Saville decided to found the design agency Peter Saville Associates before he was invited to close his office in 1990 to join the partner owned firm Pentagram, one of the most respected design consultancies in the world.

In 1993, Saville moved to Los Angeles, USA due to the fact that he was offered partnership at the ad agency, Frankfurt Balkind. He returned to London and re-opened the design studio with Howard Wakefield. They earned the title ‘The Apartment’ for Saville’s modernist apartment that was featured in covers like in the album This is Hardcore by Pulp.

Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division (1979) Credit:

 In the following years, Saville achieved commercial and creative success as he grew in demand, with design consultancy clients such as Selfridges, EMI and Calvin Klein. In 2004, Saville became Creative Director of the City of Manchester, playing a strategic role in the regeneration of his home city. Saville’s success has continued throughout the years, most recently in 2018, redesigning the logo for fashion house, Burberry.

History of Modern. Credit:

You can preview Peter Saville’s work on his website here.

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