Vaughan Oliver, Graphic Designer for Pixies, Cocteau Twins, and Extra, Lifeless at 62


Vaughan Oliver, graphic designer whose work was synonymous with 4AD and its alternative rock corner, died peacefully this afternoon (December 29 ) at the age of 62. Representatives from 4AD and the publishing house Unit Editions confirmed Pitchfork the news.

After studying in Newcastle, Oliver moved to London in the 1970s to work in packaging design. But he longed to keep a visual eye on music and later claimed that when he was raised in a small town, "the local record store was an art gallery for me." After a chance meeting with 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, Oliver became the only full-time employee of the label in 1983. His distinctive album covers, sometimes abrasive or experimental, others darkly seductive, adorned almost all of the label's records by 1987, thanks to his work with photographer Nigel Grierson as 23 Envelope.

Oliver was given full creative freedom and worked closely with band members, especially Black Francis from Pixies. "There are so many pictures in Pixies songs that it was a dream," he told the partnership's Design Week in 2016. A hole in the ozone layer. “His signatures include the cover images of the Cocteau Twins, the Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Lush and many more.

After retiring 23 Envelope, Oliver worked under the studio name v23 and designed for 4AD and other companies, including working with David Sylvian on albums such as Secrets of the Beehive. Despite his growing customer base – he made several music videos and TV commercials for Microsoft and Sony – Oliver continued to work for 4AD artists like Pixies (after their reform), TV on the radio (Return to Cookie Mountain) and Scott Walker (The Drift). He has exhibited work across Europe, in Tokyo and LA, and in the 20th century V&A gallery, where his work is part of the permanent collection. Unit Editions published Archives, a collection of Oliver's works, in 2018; You can find a selection on v23's Cargo Collective page.

Pixies, The Breeders and Superchunk are among those who pay tribute on Sunday. The Mountain Goats, who commissioned Oliver to design several album covers after signing at 4AD, called the artist "an indispensable part of the label's identity". You can't confuse it. It holds an unequal list together, claims a common vision. Knowing this means belonging to a secret society. "

Update: 4AD, its co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell, and Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills have made statements about Oliver's death:


“To propose means to create; describing means destroying ”-Robert Doisneau

We are incredibly sad to learn that Vaughan Oliver has died. There
was nobody else like him.

Without Vaughan, 4AD would not be 4AD, and that is not an understatement
say that his style also helped graphic design in the
Late 20th century.

In 1980 he was the first employee of the label to design his first sleeve
for the modern English single "Gathering Dust" before continuing
cult works for Pixies, Breeders, Cocteau Twins,
This Mortal Coil, throwing muses, lush, pale saint, television on the radio,
Scott Walker and countless others. The guard said his designs were
"Abstract, dreamy, elegant" and they were not wrong; He gave us both
as a label and our musicians an identity and a voice.

We will miss you Vaughan and our thoughts are with your family and
friends. We were blessed to know you and will be grateful forever
everything you did

Ivo Watts-Russell:

Vaughan Oliver taught me to value quality. He taught me how to do it
Look at the physical world. It was a force of nature and I have it
such a hard time to process this.

I have no idea how to describe the enormous impact it had in a few words
In my life. Two virgins with a tendency to control us
somehow we managed to congratulate and strengthen each other in our mission
Overcome mediocrity. The breadth and scope of the work is incomparable,
The inspiration continuously broadened a new collaboration
bring. I am aware that we considered each other as a puzzle.
a contradiction to our own personality, and I also know that ours
mutual respect was maintained.

We had separated less often over the years
and I moved to the States. Last year, one was unrelated but was aware
Serious illness gave me cause to bully my way back into his life
little. At that time I was afraid for him and found myself again
more sincere, more heartfelt than we were used to work
Side by side for years. So some things were said .. words of affection,
Admiration and eternal gratitude
unspoken. I am grateful for that. But I'm so angry that I made one
Complete recovery, he was still forgiven. And of course I just want to have it
another conversation.

It is rare to think of someone in your own life and to know that
absolute certainty that the course of our lives was irrevocable
consequently changed for the better. The result, the fruit, is
visible to everyone … at least in pictures.

Vaughan William Oliver, quite simply .. thanks for the beauty that
Friendship, work and madness.

Martin Mills:

Vaughan was the lead author of the 4AD label that
grew up in the 80s and. Designs for record sleeves by artists such as
as Cocteau Twinsand, the Pixies were the perfect addition to the
Music and inspired and influenced generations. It was unique
Personality and will be very missed and will be remembered for a long time.


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