So who’s the Joy Division fan? The story of a brochure cover
August 12 2011
Ever since we published the 2011 brochure we’ve been asked “who’s the Joy Division fan and why did you use it?” So, Michael Bonney and John Chennells have finally got around to writing up who was responsible and explain what the design represents and how we came to use it.
I’ve always had an interest in music and Factory records are one of the record labels that have influenced me. Growing up in the North East of England in the 70‘s with its mining, shipbuilding and steel production meant that my initial influences and experiences are based around engineering, factories and the struggles that went with that. Art was a world one didn’t relate to, it wasn’t a working class interest and the little bits of art one did see were on album covers with their fantasy world images that meant little to me. In the late 70’s Punk changed that. I don’t know how I found out about them but I first saw Joy Division before the release of the Unknown Pleasures album. When the album was released I went to the record store to pick it up and stood looking at the cover for ages. I’d say other than images from Andy Warhol’s Factory/Velvets it was my first real experience of graphic design, I had no idea about how it had been arrived at but loved what it was and started to look at Factory and the designer Peter Saville, as much a part of the music as the artists themselves. As Factory progressed so did the graphic design with the black on black OMD Electricity cover, Duritti Column sandpaper cover and “use hearing protection” graphics and I can now look back at that period of my life and understand it's where my interest in graphic design and how it relates to a product or brand was born.
I don’t care to remember how far back this all takes me. Peter Saville is a name anyone worth his graphic design salt will be well aware of. To me it’s a name that’s mixed into the industrial revolution in graphic design that heralded the arrival of the ‘Apple Mac’ on the scene all at once daunting and threatening and yet exciting and full of possibility (yet often not quite there yet when you pushed it a bit). Although really he preceded all that, so if you think about it, he was well ahead of the game.
It was a time when trips to London were always an opportunity to browse the furthest reaches of Soho newsagent’s shelves for the latest and greatest esoteric publications.
That’s right, magazines like the Face, I-D and Ray Gun were not for mere mortals, they had to be sought out and treasured. Not only of the moment, these publications were portals to past influences and predictions of what was to come.
I look back at some of the nonsense that flew around back then and frankly it was unintelligible, no matter how much you pretended down the pub that it was ground-breaking and innovative, lots of it was downright confusing. On the other hand, Peter Saville’s output was simple, iconic yet accessible, and good humoured - often downright funny, I mean, A sandpaper album cover? That’s a practical joke right? I wish I’d thought of it.
Not complicating the simple is a constant battle every day. More often than not I reckon Peter Saville smacks that simple truth dead centre. I like that. I’d like to do it half as well.
Working at Orange I see many parallels with what Factory were and the way Orange Bikes is, both small gritty Northern businesses, on a good day topping the world be that music charts or world cup racing, always looking to move in a different direction to the competition around them and in doing so allowing those involved to retain the individuality that lets creative people produce moments of genius. Both companies seemed to find young raw talent be it riders or musicians and be the catalyst for their development. I admired Tony Wilson for the way the business ran, loose, chaotic, anarchic but always with passion and belief and it's something I feel is present at Orange, we don’t always get it right, don’t have a plan - its just bikes and us playing with them most days and I’ve always imagined that's what Factory would have been like, Peter Hook and Peter Saville are probably reading this pissing themselves laughing at how wrong I am.
I’ve worked with John, for over 15 years now, I’ve always seen him as our Peter Saville, the guy that adds to what is in effect an engineering company, he adds the style, the creativity, whether its web/print/ad or bike graphics, part of him is in every Orange product and that's how I’ve always seen what Peter did at Factory.
When we started on the 2011 brochure we already had an idea on the cover, we’ve tended to use riding shots, images chosen to inspire or show what our products can be used for and wanted to do something different, something that one wouldn't expect from a mountain bike company but still encompassed everything that Orange is. We’d talked about using the Unknown concept for many years, the idea came back as we looked at photographs of Peter’s amazing work on Tony Wilson’s gravestone.
While playing around with concepts for the 2011 brochure cover we were striving for something iconic, yet symbolic and had several versions on the table, but we kept coming back to our redux of the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ image. I didn’t want to just copy the design, I wanted to take those influences but adapt them to Orange. I had the idea on altering the lines so that instead of the pulsar trace they became hills, I started thinking of using real geographic profiles, but that started getting very complicated. As we sat in the factory with the first draft whilst the same, it was different; redrawn and composed with the Orange Bikes logo in the north west of our ‘Pennine hills’. When people who had never even seen the Joy Division cover totally got it, it seemed ever more destined to be the ‘one’ for the cover.
At this point we started to consider what we were doing, we were using someone else’s concept and whilst not copying it, it was the inspiration and an adaptation so started researching how it was arrived at. Unknown Pleasures was unusual in that Bernard Sumner from the band supplied Peter the idea, he took it from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, and it was originally drawn with black lines on a white background. It represents successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered, As we read this we realized that Peter had done exactly what we were doing, taking inspiration and adapting, naively we assumed that was our get out should it be ever claimed we’d breached copyright.
As we tweaked the cover art I was chatting to Dominic at Four Corners Print who handle our brochure production “Could we run the design as foil block?”. Dominic thought this would be OK so went off to check, saying that it wouldn’t be cheap. This might be a stumbling block. I rang Michael.
“Can we do a foil block in a nice matt aluminium finish on the cover, it’ll look ace.”
“How much is ‘not much’?”
I’ve always got my business head on and said “No” as I knew how expensive it would be, then I asked “why?” John came back with “it's there to represent the aluminum we work with in the frames, real metal not ink”. Won over, I asked him to minimize costs which he did and I have to thank Dom and Lena at Four Corners Media for the help they gave us with this. Anyone who knows anything about print will know how expensive that size piece of foil is and the die stamp that's needed, but Four Corners knew what they were working on and saw what we were trying to achieve. For me it was another Factory moment, i’d always envisaged that's how it would be there, Tony pushed by the bands and artists and always trying to let the creativity out no matter what the cost.
New brochure day is always a big one in the factory, the boxes arrived and finally we got to see it. I’ve never kept any of our brochures despite working on every one since 1994, I opened the box and knew instantly it was a keeper, I’d shot a lot of the images in it but that wasn’t why, the cover had the same impact as it did over 30 years but this time I got it, I knew why and it's a moment in my biking industry career I’ll always remember.
It's now almost a year since that brochure went to print and in that time we’d made a limited edition run of tee shirts which are sold via our website. One day Ben took a phone call from Peter Hook asking about the shirts and the artwork copyright, we sat discussing whether it could be the “real” Peter Hook or a hoax phone call, I’m a big Joy Division/New Order fan, knew of the stories of Peter’s reputation and knew it was probably not a hoax, so nervously I returned the call.
I’ve got a reasonable knowledge of intellectual property and copyright and genuinely believed we weren't trying to pass ourselves off as selling a Joy Division product nor benefit financially from it and hoped he’d see it that way. Fortunately after an explanation on how/why we had arrived at it Peter was brilliant, listened and made a simple request that a percentage of profit from those shirts should be donated to The Epilepsy Society in memory of Ian Curtis. It’s a request we are more than happy to agree to and in fact we’ll be donating all the profit from the ‘Unknown’ shirts to that charity. If you want one, the Tee Shirts are here. [Update] All sold out, sorry.
The threat of getting sued by one of your heroes is an unusual one, I called John to explain. John thought it was brilliant.
John: “Has Peter Saville seen it?”, “Does he like it ?”.
In my head I can just imagine a day like that at Factory, maybe our decision to use it was bit closer to the truth than I’d ever imagined.....
Below left: a detail from the original artwork by Peter Saville (1979), Below right: The cover for our brochure, John Chennells (October 2010)
Peter Hook, Peter Saville thanks for your understanding.
Tony Wilson for your inspiration and even in death being a catalyst for creativity.
Dom and Lena at Four Corners Print for turning it into reality.
John Chennells - getting sued isn’t a game.
Further reading viewing/listening
History of Factory Records
Peter Saville talks album covers
Peter Saville and Tony Wilson talk graphic design
And a good blog piece here: http://adamcap.com/2011/05/history-of-joy-division-unknown-pleasures-album-art/
An evening with Peter Saville
Peter Hook performs Unknown Pleasure tour dates
If you want to copy or imitate make sure you check it out first, copyright exists for 70 years plus 30 and not everyone will be as understanding as the band have been with us! Don’t steal artwork, don’t steal music, artists need to be able to buy mountain bikes as well.
Those of you familiar with Joy Division will know that lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis, diagnosed with epilepsy and suffering depression sadly took his own life on 18 May 1980 hence Peter’s request for the proceeds to be donated to The Epilepsy Society.