In 1967 Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and Storm Thorgerson were approached by their friends in Pink Floyd to design the cover for the group’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets. This led to a flurry work from other bands including Free, The Pretty Things, Tyrannosaurus Rex  and Aynsley Dunbar.

The name Hipgnosis was born out of a chance encounter with a door frame. Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson, founders of the company, had been looking for a name for their fledgling studio. At the time they shared a flat in London’s South Kensington with Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and by chance Syd had scrawled in ball-point pen the word HIPGNOSIS on the door. When asked about it, Syd sheepishly denied he had written anything, but Syd was a clever wordsmith and only he could have made up such a brilliant acronym. He is to thank for linking ‘hip’ (pertaining to a cool subculture) with ‘gnostic’ (esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters ) and the noun ‘hypnosis’ (an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep characterised by heightened susceptibility to suggestion).

Over the next fifteen years Hipgnosis gained international prominence. Their famed 1973 cover design for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon paved the way for other  major rock bands to set foot in the surreal photo-design world of Po and Storm, resulting in many artworks for Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Genesis, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, The Alan Parsons Project, 10cc, Styx, Bad Company and Yes.

Peter Christopherson (of Throbbing Gristle and Coil fame) joined as an assistant in 1974, and such was his contribution that he became a full partner in 1978. Hipgnosis employed many assistants and artists to work with them over the years including George Hardie, Neville Brody, Richard Evans, Bush Hollyhead, Geoff Halpin and Humphrey Ocean.

By the early 1980s the popularity of expensive and complicated album jackets was on the wain – Punk had arrived and a transition was in progress. Hipgnosis started creating and photographing work for the advertising world but, with increasing frustration and difficulty after a decade and a half of designing art pictures for themselves, they decided to move on. In 1982 Hipgnosis ceased all album cover and advertising work and concentrated instead on moving pictures. Po, Storm and Peter formed the successful film company Green Back Films.



Walk Away Renee – The Work of Hipgnosis

by Aubrey Powell & Storm Thorgerson, 1978

Wings Over America

by Hipgnosis. Photographs by Aubrey Powell, 1978

The Goodbye Look – The Photodesigns of Hipgnosis

by Aubrey Powell & Storm Thorgerson, 1982

Classic Album Covers of the 1970s

by Aubrey Powell, 1994. Republished autumn 2012

100 Best Album Covers

by Aubrey Powell & Storm Thorgerson, 1999

For The Love of Vinyl – The Album Art of Hipgnosis

by Aubrey Powell & Storm Thorgerson, 2008

Available through or

Coming in 2014 . . .

Hipgnosis Portraits

by Aubrey Powell