31st Jan 2012, Brian Cannon.
On Tuesday 31st of Jan, Brian Cannon come in to do a lecture for us. I found his life really interesting and his work very inspiring. How lucky he was to find himself work with bands like the verve and oasis but also how hard he worked when creating the album sleeve’s and promotional material needed for them.
After training as a graphic designer, Brian set up Microdot in 1990 and first came to prominence working with The Verve. Sleeve designs such as those for singles ‘She’s A Superstar’, ‘Gravity Grave’ and the band’s debut album ‘A Storm In Heaven’ are still regarded as some of the most innovative and original of the last two decades.
From the iconic white on black logo Oasis to every single and album sleeve until 1998, Microdot’s designs were seen as a fitting visual companion to the bands music, often referencing both the songs themselves and giving a nod to band’s own influences.
In a Q magazine poll of the Top 100 album covers of all time, Microdot were featured twice, for Definitely Maybe (Oasis) and This is Music (The Verve).
Brian told us that The Sex Pistols was a big influence for him as a young lad, Never Mind The Bollocks is in his eyes the greatest typographical album sleeve of all time. It was punk generally and the Pistols in particular that inspired him to do the job in producing album covers himself.
Brian Cannon told us for the Verve album sleeve, ‘Shes a Superstar’ he set up a set on a flowing stream with neon lights they made that say the verve in the water lit up by a generator just out of shot. He went on to tell us that the water wasnt blue enough as he wanted for the final shot so he went half a mile upstream and poured a full dustbin full of food colouring into the water to give a brighter, more defined blue, it was alright though because the food colouring was bio-degradable. This shown me how much effort he had to put in just for that one perfect shot that he has pictured in his head and also how hard it must of been back then without the technology like photoshop.
He also went on to tell us how he met Noel Gallagher and how he ended up working with Oasis and how lucky he was to be in the right place at the right time. He said,” first met Noel in 1992/3, I had a tiny office in the same building as the Inspiral Carpets just off Rochdale Road in Manchester where Noel worked as a roadie. Noel and I would see each other around the building but we were too cool to actually speak to each other. That was until one day when I got into the lift at work wearing a pair of trainers unavailable in England at the time, Adidas Indoor Super, which I had bought in Rome when I took my Mum for her 60th birthday. The first thing Noel Gallagher ever said to me was ‘Alright, I put me hands up, where the F***k did you get them trainers?!’ We got talking and he asked what I did, I told him I was into designing record sleeves – he asked me what I had done, I told him about the early Verve stuff, he was impressed as he liked The Verve and their artwork. As he was leaving the lift he said ‘I’m in a band, and when we get signed I want you to do the artwork’”.
We asked a few questions at the end of the lecture to Brian, one of the questions was ‘are there any bands now that you might like to work for?’ He said he would love to work with Noel Gallagher again and his new band and also the Arctic Monkeys cos there music is very good.
I found this lecture very inspiring, his work and style of traditional media to produce album artwork and music related products make me want to go down that path further in the future with my own graphic design career.