Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | Brian Curtin in conversation with photographer Simon Larbalestier.

In the November issue (no 176) of Thailand’s art magazine art4d, I share some of the latest project ideas with Brian Curtin, curator of the recent “Surface Depth” exhibition at the H Gallery in Bangkok.

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay pages 66-67

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | pages 66-67

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | pages 68-69

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | page 66 (detail)

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | page 67 (detail)

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | page 68 (detail)

Chaos, Flux, Pleasure and Decay | page 69 (detail)


Pixies’ ‘Minotaur’ box set earns Grammy nomination for best packaging design.

Pixies’s Minotaur box set earns Grammy nomination for best packaging design. The Grammys will be awarded on February 13th.


Pixies' Minotaur Limited Edition Box Set

Pixies' Minotaur Limited Edition Box Set


A R C H I V E S | new dedicated blog.

A brand new online archives of my photographs dating from 1986 – the present day is now set up on its own dedicated blog with 20 new gallery pages: A R C H I V E S

"About" page from the Archives Blog


Wired: Best Album Art of All Time

Quote from Underwire:

Pixies: Come On PilgrimSurfer Rosa, Doolittle

Just as with The Velvet Underground, more bands (including Nirvana and Radiohead) were probably influenced by the Pixies than actually heard or saw the group during its ferociously productive heyday in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Those of us who did follow the Pixies around the country in those days were captivated by the brutal but beautiful music and art.

That graphically sonic merge was most capably illustrated on the Pixies’ EP Come On Pilgrim, full-length debut Surfer Rosa and crossover classic Doolittle, which featured deep and arty design and photography from Vaughan Oliver and Simon Larbalestier.

Like other stunning artwork produced for albums from the influential 4AD label, the imagery of the Pixies’ first three albums propelled alternative rock into the mainstream, where less talented bands like Nirvana built upon the group’s foundational artistry to achieve stratospheric fame. So-called alt-rock has sucked ever since.

Read More

Come on Pilgrim 1987

Surfer Rosa 1988

Doolittle 1988


Vaughan Oliver: A Portrait Of The Artist As A Jung Man

Vaughan Oliver has been responsible for creating the look and cementing the visual aesthetic of 4AD records since the early 80s. John Doran meets him to talk about producing sleeve art that endures. See the online interview here.


Vaughan Oliver and Simon Larbalestier talk Minotaur

Venue: The Gallery, UCA, Epsom, UK.

Time: Monday 7th December 2009 starts 5pm.

Vaughan Oliver and Simon Larbalestier discuss the Minotaur Project.

Hosted by Brian Whitehead including contributing students Ben Ewing, Aron Kitney, Phoebe Richardson, Michael Speed, Rose Thomas, Paul Tumber, and Rosie Upright.

Please apply for tickets at Registery Office limited places available.



Welcome to The Subbacultcha

Filter Magazine Issue 37 releases an interview with The Pixies’ Black Francis, Kim Deal, Vaughan Oliver and myself discussing the Minotaur project and past Pixies’s sleeve artworks. Read the full interview in print format.









Pixies Minotaur Launch Party Pictures

On the 15th June 2009, in London’s trendy Shoreditch district, the Pixies played a secret gig to 300 people invited to celebrate the launch of the Minotaur Box Set – a special limited edition package of the five original albums. These photos posted on my domain website here document the events leading up to and including the party. A few are posted below.

Opening pages from the Minotaur Limited Edition 92 page book. Village Underground, Shoreditch, London.

"Glove" a double page spread from the Minotaur Limited Edition 92 page book, rests against one of the Pixies' equipment tour crates, Village Underground, Shoreditch, London.

"Crush" a double page spread from the Minotaur Limited Edition 92 page book, rests against one of the Pixies' equipment tour crates, Village Underground, Shoreditch, London.








Pixies Minotaur Launch Party Press Release

Minotaur Invite@72dpi
Minotaur, the definitive Pixies’ Collector’s Sets, was already an extraordinary package when it was first announced, but with more content added, it’s even better.

Now, weighing in at about 25-pounds with a custom clamshell container that resembles the Monolith from the classic film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” new additions to the Limited Edition include Blu-ray and DVD discs that are mastered for 5.1 audio surround sound at 24/192 and 24/96, respectively, and two-channel stereo; five, 12-inch albums cut from the original analog tapes and pressed on 180-gram virgin vnyl; a faux fur hardcover 96-page fine art book of Oliver and Larbalestier’s project artwork printed on high-quality paper that measures 22 X 14″, and two frameable, 48″ X 36″, double-sided, fold-out, four color wall posters. In addition, all 3000 copies of the Limited Edition sets will be individually numbered and hand-signed by all four members of the Pixies and Vaughan Oliver.

Minotaur’s Limited Edition already includes all five of the Pixies’ studio albums on 24k gold-plated CDs and Blu-ray discs, a DVD and Blu-ray of the band’s previously unreleased 1991 performance at London’s Brixton Academy, all of the group’s videos, a 54-page book of brand new art created by the award-winning and legendary Vaughan Oliver (the graphic designer who created all of the artwork that accompanied the Pixies’ studio albums), and a 22″ X 14″ frameble Giclee print of a stunning photo taken exclusively for Minotaur by Pixies’ photographer Simon Larbalestier, the photographer for all of the band’s original albums.

Contents for the Deluxe Edition will include all five Pixies studio albums – Come on Pilgrim (1987), Surfer Rosa (1988), Doolittle (1989), Bossanova (1990), and Trompe le Monde (1991) – on the following formats: 24K gold-plated CDs; DVD and Blu-ray discs mastered for 5.1 surround sound at 24/192 and 24/96, respectively, and two-channel stereo; a DVD and Blu-ray of the Pixies’ 1991 performance at London’s Brixton Academy, now also mastered for 5.1 surround sound at 24/192 and 24/96 respectively.

Minotaur will be available for pre-order starting today, June 15, 2009 at

The Minotaur Deluxe Edition will retail for $175, while the Minotaur Limited Edition will be priced at $495; both will ship directly to the purchaser between late-September and mid-October.

“It’s beyond my expectations. I thought it was going to be your typical box set, but it’s monstrous, I’ve never seen anything like it.” — Pixies’ David Lovering

The Pixies have been acclaimed as the most influential pioneering band of the late 80s alt/rock movement. They recorded five studio albums between 1987 and 1991, creating a body of work that spawned many alt/rock radio standards, and influenced countless subsequent bands, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Radiohead.

Minotaur was spearheaded by Jeff Anderson, founder of A+R (Artist in Residence), who has put together expansive and eye-catching collector’s sets for Nine Inch Nails, Beck, and Sigur Ros.

Nearly a year ago, he took the first steps towards what would reunite what some have called the 4AD Records’ “dream team” – award-winning graphic designer Vaughan Oliver, gifted photographer Simon Larbalestier, and the music of the Pixies. What soon followed was the idea of Vaughan Oliver.

“I know people who used to buy the vinyl records from 4AD, they didn’t even know who the band was, they just bought the vinyl so they could have the artwork of Vaughan Oliver.” — Pixies’ Kim Deal

After discussing the project with Anderson, Oliver came up with an intriguing idea.

“I said, ‘That was then, this is now. Why don’t we do a whole new body of work? It’s all born of the same lyrics and albums -it would be evolving the ideas we had in the original packages.’ I worked with the same photographer who I worked with back then, Simon Larbalestier. If there were a ‘fifth Pixie,’ it would have been Simon – his work so suited what they were doing. Simon’s gone out and shot a whole new body of work. He was a bit panicked at first, he said, ‘The old sleeves – with the topless Spanish dancer, the red planet – have become iconic.’ I said to Simon, ‘Don’t be scared. Icons are there to be shot down. There’s the challenge. You’re 20 years on, you’re a better photographer. Let’s take all those same inspirations and create a new body of work.’ Subsequently, he’s shot some amazing images that I think will surpass what we did first time around.”

Now, nearly 20 years after the release of the Pixies final studio album, Oliver, recognized as one of the most innovative graphic designers of the past thirty years, and Larbalestier are using the same music as inspiration, but applying a 21st century perspective to create a complete new body of art and designs for Minotaur’s Deluxe and Limited Edition uber-sets – the outer casings, CD, vinyl and DVD sleeves and the inside boxes that house them, the four-color, hard- and soft-bound fine art books, the two oversized wall posters and more.

Oliver, working as designer-in-residence at the UK’s University of the Creative Arts in Epsom, Surrey, enlisted some of his students to work on Minotaur. The students experimented with typography in a spatial and expressive fashion using work as image, information as illustration, using a wide variety of techniques and materials (including construction nails), to create stunning and unconventional graphic responses to Larbalestier’s photography. Oliver also had one of his students sketch images from the original album covers, creating the only reference to the original artwork.

Oliver has given Minotaur a total feel, a total look, rather than a disparate quality of putting into one box five album packages that were designed at different times under varying circumstances.

“This was an opportunity for us to go back through the themes and the ideas that we’d covered at the time of the five albums, and treat them in a deeper, more substantial way,” explained Oliver. “There was the benefit of retrospect.”

Additionally, Larbalestier approached his photography from a completely different perspective for Minotaur than he did for the original Pixies’ album covers.

Explained Oliver, “For Minotaur, Simon used very different techniques. For his original photographs, he shot exclusively in a studio using a large format camera for what he called a ‘forensic approach,’ everything was very controlled. This time, he used a point-and-shoot digital camera and shot mostly on location. His new work is full of power, it carries a very strong visual poetry. Simon has the ability to imbue the inanimate with emotion, with sensibilities.”

“We realize we have a unique relationship with Vaughan. He’s the only person outside of the band who has ever been allowed to represent the band in any way, and we’ve given him carte blanche to do that.” — Frank Black


Pixies Minotaur Box Set Revealed

This is a somewhat late posting but on the 15th June the Pixies’ Minotaur Box Set was revealed in a private launch party held at the Village Underground, in Shoreditch, London. Spreads from the forthcoming box set were hung on the walls and the Pixies played a special set. My own photos documenting the setting up of the show, closeups of the spreads and the band members themselves will be posted later on my blog once I’ve had time to edit the files. For now here’s a link to the contents of the Minotaur Box Set.