Aubrey Powell – Hipgnosis
Aubrey Powell co-founded the album cover design company Hipgnosis with Storm Thorgerson in 1967. The company ran successfully for 15 years until 1982. Hipgnosis created some of the most innovative and surreal record cover art of the 1960s, 70s and 80s for many of the big name rock bands of the era including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Yes, Genesis, 10cc, Peter Gabriel, Bad Company, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Scorpions, Styx, Syd Barrett and Black Sabbath. Hipgnosis were nominated five times for Grammy Awards.
Since 1982 Aubrey Powell has been involved in film making, first as a producer and writer and then as director. In 2011 he directed the documentary The Bull Runners of Pamplona which took two years to make and was shot in HD and 3D. The film is currently doing the festival circuit and on its second screening won the Best Documentary Film 2012 at the New Jersey Film Festival. In 2012 he directed Eric Idle, Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Billy Connolly, Tracey Ullman and Jane Leeves in a film of the Eric Idle play What About Dick?.
Aubrey Powell was born on 23 September 1946 in Sussex. His parents lived abroad for most of his formative years and he attended The Kings School, Ely, Cambridgeshire. On leaving school, he met Storm Thorgerson and members of the then fledgling Pink Floyd in Cambridge and struck up a friendship and working relationship that was to last to the present day. In 1965 he secured a job in London as assistant scenic designer to Nick Pemberton, creating sets for the television series Z Cars, Dr Finlay’s Casebook and Emergency Ward 10. He and Storm Thorgerson shared an apartment which was to prove the inspiration for the start of Hipgnosis and in 1968 they conceived their first album cover for Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets. A studio was acquired at 6 Denmark Street in Soho and until 1982 Hipgnosis thrived as one of the best known photo design companies. By the early 1980s the studio had diversified into advertising – designing and shooting campaigns for Peugeot, Kronenbourg 1664, Levi Jeans, Volvo, Gillette, Stella Artois, Rank Xerox, and The Beatles.
Moving from photo design into moving pictures, Powell, Thorgerson and Peter Christopherson started Green Back Films in 1982, shooting music videos for many of their existing, and new clients including ‘Big Log’ for Robert Plant, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’ for Paul Young, ‘Owner of A Lonely Heart’ for Yes, and ‘Blue Light’ for David Gilmour. The trio wrote, produced and directed three feature films: Incident at Channel Q starring Al Corley (Sony), Train of Thought with Yumi Matsutoya (Toshiba EMI), and Now Voyager starring Sir Michael Hordern and Barry Gibb (Universal). Green Back Films closed in 1984.
Aubrey Powell formed Aubrey Powell Productions in 1985 with Peter Christopherson and producer Fiz Oliver, shooting music videos, long form music-based films and television commercials. Credits include Coca Cola (with Robert Plant), Miller Lite (with Randy Quaid and The Who), Budweiser, Nissan, Pan Am, Grolsch, Bristol & West Bank (with Joan Collins), and Le Jardin de Max Factor (with Jane Seymour).
In 1989 Aubrey Powell was made creative director for the Paul McCartney World Tour, designing the stage set, video wall and filmed images. During his tenure he directed the documentary From Rio to Liverpool for Channel 4 and the feature movie Get Back, co-directed with Richard Lester. For Paul McCartney’s 1993 New World Tour he again designed the visual staging, and directed another documentary Movin’ On, and for Fox Network Television directed Paul McCartney’s Live in the New World concert from Charlotte, North Carolina, winning the CableACE Award and a nomination for the Golden Rose of Montreux.
Since 1994, when he created Hipgnosis Ltd, Aubrey Powell has directed documentaries, live multi-camera shoots and corporate films.