“I get paid to create my dreams” - Storm Thorgerson. Storm is his real name.
This late, great British graphic designer worked in the method of a film maker to realise now iconic images synonymous with equally calibered music over the past four decades; Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, Biffy Clyro, Mars Volta, 10cc, Black Sabbath, Anthrax - the list is as endless as it is legendary.
Spending his formative years in Cambridge before heading to London to create design company Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell and Peter Christopherson, greatness would await him. We witness the growth of seemingly limitless creative play. This play challenges visual perception and borrows ideas from surrealism; “I’m the plunderer”, Storm chuckles while stumbling over the repeated syllables.
Endearingly modest but far more than a “plunderer”, he and Hipgnosis pushed the boundaries of what a record sleeve was, expanding the covers in the way that music when played aloud expands around and beyond itself.
“As a form of packaging, album covers are different. You’re not obliged to show the product”, Storm explains, pointing out the strangeness of selling an initial concept, rather than an object itself. Fetishising album covers, embracing the tactical nature of records and the rituals surrounding them is no uncanny occurrence to him; representing the 40 plus minutes of music etched in plastic via a single captured moment from a site specific happening or staged art installation is his life.
Taken By Storm confronts the serious business of art making, speckled with its subject’s dry wit perfectly evidenced in his observations while undergoing acupuncture treatment; “the difficulty with acupuncture is it’s hard to see the point”.
The artistry of Storm’s work is not only represented, but reflected by the film’s director, Roddy Bogawa. We are indulged by first hand accounts from Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Zep Led and 10cc to name but a few, while Bogawa builds a frank, anecdotal and almost wholly autobiographical account of a life literally in film.
This is a well constructed, yet non-formulaic, exemplary insight by an accomplished film maker utilising primary and secondary sources to personify “the last great surrealist” who “won’t settle for second best”.
The lesson of this effortlessly beautiful documentary is that no labour is too great if there is love involved - passion and commitment accompany that as standard according to the extraordinary methods of “the last great surrealist”, Storm Thorgerson. It is nothing short of a genuine pleasure to experience Bogawa’s story telling. More of this please.
- We saw Taken By Storm at London's Doc N' Roll Fest, read the review here. The festival continues until 16 June. For tickets and more information, visit here.