Collection of three alternate artwork proof designs for the 1989 album Doolittle by the Pixies
London: 4AD, 1989. Three early never-issued alternate artwork proof designs for the classic 1989 album. Developed by British graphic designer Vaughan Oliver, with photography by Simon Larbalestier. Unique.
In 1980, Oliver and photographer Nigel Grierson formed the graphic design partnership 23 Envelope. In 1982 the duo were invited to create sleeve art for the 4AD record label by co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell. Under 23 Envelope and v23, Oliver would give 4AD one of the most acclaimed and distinguished visual identities of any record label of the 1980s and 1990s, designing album art for the Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, Colourbox, and the Pixies, among many others. Oliver managed the graphic design for the Pixies' entire discography during his lifetime, with "Doolittle" being the most celebrated.
Photographer Simon Larbalestier is best known for his collaborative work with Oliver under 23 Envelope and v23, and provided photography for all the Pixies albums, helping to give the band their distinctive and opulent visual style.
"Doolittle" was the first Pixies album for which Oliver and Larbalestier had access to the lyrics, which "made a fundamental difference" according to Larbalestier, and helped determined the photography, layout, and graphic style.
While each of the experimental proofs presented here retain the general overall layout of the released cover, each contains both stark and subtle differences. The first proof, the most dramatically divergent, is printed in a sharp copper, with the photograph a pale yellow, and the rear cover text a deep blue. The other two proofs, experimenting with metallic copper and gold, are both notably lighter in tone than the final art, but the photograph, printed in a gray green, is close to Oliver’s final design, with the rear cover text also in gray-green, as opposed to the white of the final design. The layout of the typography is also notably different in all three proofs, with the band name much smaller, and its accompanying grid nearly indiscernible, as is the title, placed discreetly above the band’s name.
Three extraordinary experimental proofs, documenting Oliver’s process in creating the exceptional art of one of the most celebrated and influential rock albums of all time.
25.25 x 13.75 inches on heavy card stock. Near Fine overall.
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