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Who Designed Yes Album Covers? Introducing Roger Dean

Roger Dean

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Roger Dean is the artist who designed many of Yes's iconic album covers. Known for his distinctive style featuring fantastical landscapes and surreal imagery, Dean's artwork has become closely associated with the band's progressive rock identity. Some of his most famous covers for Yes include albums like "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge."

His work has helped define the visual identity of many progressive rock and rock bands throughout the 1970s and beyond, including Uriah Heep, Budgie, Gentle Giant & Osibisa.

Fragile - Yes
Fragile - Yes (1971)
Osibisa - Osibisa
Osibisa - Osibisa (1971)

Introducing: Roger Dean

Roger Dean is a renowned English artist and designer, best known for his iconic album cover art for rock bands, particularly Yes and Asia. Born on 31 st August 1944, Dean's distinctive style features surreal landscapes, organic forms, and dreamlike scenes, which have become synonymous with the progressive rock genre. Beyond album covers, he has also designed stage sets, logos, and video game graphics, contributing significantly to the visual culture of music and entertainment.

Dean's Early Career

He began his journey into the music industry after studying at the Canterbury School of Art. He then went on to the Royal College of Art in London. It was at the Royal College that he developed his unique style, combining surreal landscapes with intricate details. This was largely inspired by his childhood, where he spent time living in Greece, Cyprus and Hong Kong due to his father being in the army.

In 1966, Dean was commissioned to redesign the interior of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, specifically their seating in the upstairs disco room, creating an atmospheric environment that complemented the club's reputation as London’s top venue for jazz performances.

Dean's breakthrough into the music industry came when he was commissioned to design the cover for "The Gun," an album by the band Gun in 1968. His work caught the attention of musicians and record labels, leading to further opportunities. His collaboration with Yes began when he was approached by the band’s management to design the cover for their album "Fragile" in 1971. This partnership solidified his reputation as a leading album cover artist and opened the door to many more collaborations with prominent bands.

The Gun - Gun
Gun - The Gun (1968)
Demons and Wizards - Uriah Heep (1972)
Demons and Wizards - Uriah Heep (1972)

Did He Collaborate With Other Significant Designers?

Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis shared a house after leaving university, and they attempted to collaborate on a project. However, the collaboration did not work out as planned. Their artistic styles and approaches were quite different, which likely contributed to the difficulty in working together.

In contrast to Dean’s surreal and fantastical landscapes, Storm Thorgerson and the Hipgnosis team were known for their conceptual and often photographic album cover designs, which frequently employed visual puns, surreal imagery, and elaborate staging.

Despite their unsuccessful collaboration, both artists went on to have highly influential careers in their respective styles and left a legacy in the world of album artwork.

Learn more about Hipgnosis

Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd
Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis had quite a different approach to design than Roger Dean.
Alpha - Asia (1983)
Alpha - Asia (1983)

Involvement in Video Game Design

Roger Dean’s involvement in video games primarily revolves around his iconic artwork and designs. His fantastical landscapes and imaginative worlds have been featured in numerous video games. One of his most notable collaborations was with the British software company Psygnosis, where his artwork was used for game covers and promotional materials.

Dean's artwork became synonymous with Psygnosis' games, such as “Brataccas,” "Shadow of the Beast," and "Terrorpods." He was also responsible for designing Psygnosis’ logo.

In addition to his collaborations with Psygnosis, Dean's artwork has also been featured in other video games and multimedia projects, including two more recent Tetris games. His work had a major influence on the style and atmosphere of 80s video games.

Terrorpods (1987)
Terrorpods (1987)
Tetris Worlds (2001)
eBay | Tetris Worlds (2001)

What Has Roger Dean Worked on Recently?

As you might imagine, he continues to design album covers for bands. For example, he created the artwork for Yes's 2019 album "From a Page" and has worked on other recent releases for various artists.

Dean is also involved in architectural projects and idea, leaning into early career ideals about wishing to “design the future” regarding where we live, and how.

You can keep up with everything Roger is up to on his social media channels, including many art exhibitions all over the world including on band tours. You can also find books, jigsaws and other merchandise featuring his fantastic artwork.

Browse Roger Dean's online store

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