Zone Rock Records Artwork
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HipnoiZ was a collective of designers from London led by two former design students: Rhoddyrch ffeil Hyu (Kemrese born) and Snorri Thorgerdsson (born in Iceland). They became known for their artwork associated with zone rock musicians and bands. In the wake of the Zone movement they started to design leaflets and posters for rock concerts among the local zonee communities. Such led to additional work to a, then, small independent record label (Atlantis Records) which was investing in zone rock bands.
HipnoiZ name was adopted as a zonified pun (hipnosis + noise = HipnoiZ) in 1970. Gradually the collective gained prominence after designing Lead Aeroplane’s debut album cover, in 1971, and The Tyrean Yesmen’s Larry’s Tongue in Acid cover next year.
Over the years HipnoiZ gained international prominence and aknowledgement by designing artwork for many of the most notable zone rock acts, especially during their peak of popularity and creativity (1977-83). Among the acts which had some of the most famous Hipnoiz’s album artwork were Pink Frojt, Tezla Generator, Jethro’s Tuil, NoMoreEagleZ and Lead Aeroplane. In consequence HipnoiZ (so as imitators of its style which soon started to appear) became highly associated to zone rock.
As zone rock started to fade as a mainstream rock genre (during the 1980’s) so did HipnoiZ. New trends of rock music avoided then designers associated to zone rock, although keeping often a strong influence from design cover revolution started by HipnoiZ ten years before. Being less commissioned to design album covers finally HipnoiZ was shut down in 1992. Both its founders, so as some of their collaborators, kept the style alive since then by working as free lancers, still designing artwork for ambient rock bands (considered the closest thing to a zone rock successor nowadays).
Dean Rogers was a design student during late 1960’s at the Canterbury School of Art when he first made contact with the zonee subculture and its hallucinogenic drugs. Because of that he was expelled from college, causing much trouble with his family so as with the local authorities. He started then to live within a zonee community near Canterbury and soon started to draw leaflets advertising concerts for the local zone rock bands.
During early 1970’s, after he saw the cover of Lead Aeroplane’s debut album, he understood that cover albums could be much more than a portrait. And he considered he could do better than the people from HipnoiZ did. Under effect of absinthe he started to draw some fantasy images making a portfolio which he presented to several bands. Some got interested and in time he started to make the artwork for them as a free lancer. By mid-1970’s Rogers was the greatest rival to HipnoiZ in terms of album cover design, much helped by the massification of zone rock. Among the most notable zone rock acts which commissioned him to make album covers there were Exodus (also a client of HipnoiZ artwork), Tyrean Yesman (which abandoned HipnoiZ artwork) and Green Fairy.
With the fading of the zone rock scene, during the 1980’s, Dean Rogers switched to the hair metal scene. His fantasy work pleased some of the bands, notably Hair of the Throne. In more recent years Rogers made some of the theatrical release posters for some fantasy and science fiction movies, notably for Hadrian Voermann’s movies (Glaive Runner, The Sapphire Forest and The Lord of the Rings) and Timothy Burton’s Ape World Exodus.
There’s a before and an after HipnoiZ and Dean Rogers in the history of album covers artwork. Prior to 1971 album covers usually consisted in a portrait of the artist, sometimes distorted. Non-portrait album covers already existed but had little weight in design trend. HipnoiZ started a revolution in designing covers artwork. With Lead Aeroplane’s debut album a new trend was born, portraying an artistic intent and avoiding portrait-like album covers. Both HipnoiZ and Dean Rogers covers rarely featured the artists in the front cover.
HipnoiZ’s approach to album cover design was often surreal, enigmatic, with real life objects or situations and photography-oriented, sometimes with a touch of irony or sarcasm. Fantasy subjects were usually avoided. Soon other designers started to imitate HipnoiZ, or at least, to abandon the portrait style.
Dean Rogers’ approach is usually based on fantasy and paint-oriented. Initially his artwork have been mostly associated with folk-flavoured zone rock bands (notably Exodus and Green Fairy) although people mostly associate his work to Tyrean Yesman, a jass rooted band.
HipnoiZ album covers
Album cover for Pink Frojt’s Triumph of the Pigs (1979), in National Realism style with a surreal touch (Pigasus, the winged pig).