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In an update to Mr. Porter’s Issue 4 online editorial, the platform turns to influential graphic designer Alan Aldridge for both a well-styled lookbook as well as a short interview. Since entering the graphic art scene in the mid-1960s, he has gone on to ultimately create some important pieces of musical art, including album covers for the likes of The Beatles. A selection of answers are seen below with a full look over at Mr. Porter.
To an outsider how would you describe your work?
I’d say it’s hell’s-a-popping-psychedelic-surrealism…
You’ve been described as one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century. In your opinion what has been your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement has been my kids, but outside of that, putting The Beatles book together in nine weeks – pulling that off was pretty hard and it’s been a monumental success for me.
You’ve worked with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Mr Elton John – can you describe a few career highlights?
Oh my gosh, that would have to be when I was at the showing of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus at a tacky little rented cinema. I sat with The Stones and watched it. At the end when the lights went up, this little man stood up and freaked out and said: “We’re going to have to shoot the whole frickin’ thing again.” It was Allen Klein, their manager. It turned out that nobody touched the project for about 30 years.
Your work in the Sixties and Seventies defined a whole era of graphics. Were you aware at the time the weight your work would have?
No, when I was made art director of Penguin Books – I just took to it naturally, I think. We were doing something like one hundred book covers a month, commissioning artists and photographers and, as for myself, I just gave every job my best shot and people started using the word ‘genius’ and I had to look it up… I was a pretty green kid.
Looking back how has the style of your artwork changed over the years?
Well, it’s changed with the computer because once upon a time the colouring was a personal process between myself and an airbrush artist called Harry Willock. Now I simply draw the black and white lines and then hand them to Photoshop – there are these brilliant kids around and they get done that way.