Continuing with our occasional blog called U2 x 5, whereby we take 5 related pieces we’ve designed or been involved with for the band and comment on them, we thought we’d share some things we’ve done for U2 that through design or accident aren’t at first or even second look easily seen. Mostly these elements were obscure or hidden, sometimes deliberately so and sometimes we included them just for fun.
Zooropa – album cover
The album was recorded while the band were on their European leg of the Zoo TV tour called Zooropa, from which the album took its name. The tour with its highly charged electronic TV images in all of their saturated colours and fizz gave us the notion of conjuring up the sleeve of Zooropa as a kind of electronic flag. It’s central motif of the Astrobaby surrounded by 12 stars in imitation of the European flag tied in strongly with the album’s European roots. The design, made quite quickly, is built up of a grid of images in the same manner of Achtung Baby over which layers of distressed, floating text are placed. This text was comprised of the upcoming album’s track titles provided to us as we were designing the sleeve. Somehow lost in the rush, we managed to not to update this track list so that several songs that didn’t make the final cut got left behind in the embedded piece, including Wake Up Dead Man, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me and If You Wear That Velvet Dress!
Recently we found some boxes containing the Stealing Hearts At A Travelling Show book which we published in 2003. It wasn’t a lot of books, but they were in perfect condition. So, what do we do with them? It’s a book we are proud of, we put a lot of thought into its process; Lisa Godson (of The Sunday Times) wrote the text with exclusive interviews with Bono and Adam, we went and recreated the artwork utilizing the special metallic silver and gold colours of the work and even the fluorescent orange of the Popmart era. So… we have signed them and put them up for sale on our website at a reasonable price that included posting them to anywhere in the world: www.ampvisual.com/shop/
We drew some postcards to go into the first 60 orders and strangely, it’s these postcards that people have been really interested in! We have drawn some more, enough for every 1 in ten books, but we’ve even had people just asking us to send them the drawing… that’s not possible to accommodate… sorry!
In case people don’t know btw, everyone who buys the book goes into a draw to get a copy of the U2 Wide Awake In Europe limited 12 inch numbered vinyl.
So, thank you to the people who’ve bought the book. Do please ‘Like’ us on your Facebook page. We hope your book arrives to you shortly to enjoy.
Finally, there are still some copies left if you’d like to order one quickly before the end of the year.
Continuing in our occasional blog called U2 x 5, whereby we take 5 related pieces we’ve designed or been involved with for the band and comment on them, here’s a blog that’s kind of in tribute to Anton Corbijn being awarded the prestigious Price Bernhard Culture Fund award for his life’s work in 2011, we’ve chosen just five of his photographs for U2 and say why we like them.
THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE – Back Cover
All of the elements of this photograph from the back cover of U2′s 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire, go into making it a powerful and memorable image. The shattered dark ruin of the castle rising into the sky, the evidence of a prevailing windswept landscape with scrub growth and a leaning Hawthorn tree and finally the small figures of the band merging into the undulating form of the hillside. The infrared film stock lends a ghostly light to the scene, which is enhanced by the sepia tones of the print.
The Virgin Prunes – a short design history
A short time after working with U2 I was introduced to their friends and sometime touring partners the Virgin Prunes. In fact at the gig in Howth where U2 played two sets (one as The Hype, as a five piece band and the second as the four member U2) it was also the live debuts of the Virgin Prunes and my own (then) band The Modern Heirs – incidentally Adam Clayton played with all four bands that evening. That was the start of a long-time relationship that included the design of many of the covers for their recorded output.
It’s always a very exciting time for AMP Visual when a big band we’re working with, release a big album. This is especially the case when it’s the essential, career defining second. The moment that makes or breaks a group.
We’ve worked with U2 for a long time as their graphic designers and through the years we’ve made quite a number of design pieces for the band. So we thought we’d do an occasional blog called U2 x 5. The idea is simply for us to take 5 related graphic pieces we’ve designed for the band and comment on them. This blog is about U2 logos.
Logos, they’re absolutely all around us. They are the shorthand and visual idiom of our age. We have always enjoyed making these little marks and symbols for U2. We’ve picked just five logos out of the many we’ve made for the band and say a few words about each.
The Joshua Tree
The isolated silhouette drawing of the Joshua tree was the first U2 logo to appear that people recognised globally. It works both literally and figuratively and it is highly memorable. People connect it intrinsically with the U2 masterpiece album and as such the icon has inherited the characteristics of integrity and a certain kind of honesty and beauty. The tree itself has a lovely very individual shape with its unusual branches and leaves. The logo represents all that that album means to people, so much so that some people have it as a tattoo.
When I first heard the opening salvo of U2 Achtung Baby and the channel flipping darkly distorted sound of Zoo Station, I literally thought that the CD player had broken, or that the speakers had blown, or that we had mistakenly been sent music by another band, it really was that different, that NEW, that un-U2 like.
Not many designers relish the late evening call from a client as it invariably means one of two things. It’s the client’s eleventh hour and the design agency they were previously using hasn’t come up with a suitable result (and the budget’s all spent), or it’s the eleventh hour and your client needs something from you by the twelfth hour (and we’ll discuss the budget after). The common theme here is always the ticking clock.
AMP Visual’s Shaughn McGrath will be participating in an Offset / State 2010 event panel discussion, “Does Music Need Design Anymore?” on Friday 1st October.
AMP Visual are a new design consultancy based at 68 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, but our design team have a long history of producing an exciting mix of creative and innovative solutions for our clients. From brand identity to web design AMP Visual are open for business.
After building a credible reputation for a particular brand for many years it is something of a jolt to the system to be forced to start again from scratch. It becomes a time to re-access what your doing and why you’re actually doing it – aside from the obvious need to make a living. So when we formed AMP visual it gave us the opportunity to take our future into our hands.
It’s not everyday that we get to design an item for something resembling a spacecraft, engines lit, ready for liftoff, but the cover image of our latest in a long line of pieces of work for U2 has just that feel. We’ve just finished designing the packaging for the U2360º Live DVD, filmed in Pasadena, California in October 2009, the cover of which is a live shot of the show with the stage bathed in red and gold with lights blazing and the entire 97,000 audience fantastically illuminated that we worked hard to get just right.