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Alan Aldridge (1943 - )

Lifespan: 1943

Related: British art - illustration

Chelsea Girls

poster by Alan Aldridge for Chelsea Girls (1966)


Alan Aldridge is a UK artist, born in 1943. During the 1960s and 1970s he was responsible for a great many album covers, and helped create the graphic style of that era. He designed a series of science fiction book covers for Penguin Books.

He is possibly best known, however, for the picture book The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973), a series of illustrations of anthropomorphic insects and other creatures, which he created in collaboration with William Plomer, who wrote the accompanying verses. This was based on William Roscoe's poem of the same name, but was inspired when Aldridge read that John Tenniel had told Lewis Carroll it was impossible to draw a wasp in a wig. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Aldridge [Aug 2006]


Alan left school at 14 to work at Banana Wharf in London, unloading cargo boats, then later became an insurance clerk, a chicken plucker in a Halal butcher, a scene painter at The Old Vic and a barrow boy on Stratford Market.

In 1963, without having any art education, he started drawing portraits around the pubs of Soho and designing eye-popping book jackets for Penguin Books. He quickly became the ‘in-est’ artist in London, being dubbed by the press as ‘Beardsley in Blue Jeans’. He met and became friendly with The Beatles, and became design consultant to The Beatles Apple Corps. John Lennon awarded him the title of ‘His Royal Master of Images to Their Majesties The Beatles’.

By 1970 Alan’s clients included The Who (the cover for ‘A Quick One’ got nominated for a Grammy), The Rolling Stones and Cream. His involvement in the pop world included starring in the movie ‘Lets all make love in London’ with Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix. Perhaps one of the most distinctive and memorable of his creations was the innovative ‘Beatles Illustrated Lyrics’ published in two volumes in 1969 and 1970. Other works included The Penguin Book of Comics and the children’s book ‘Ann in the Moon’. He won a Silver Award from The Design and Art Director’s Club for his scandalous poster for Andy Warhol’s film ‘Chelsea Girls’ and was voted World’s No.1 artist by the Japanese public. He represented Britain at the New Europeans Show in Amsterdam and had his own fan club. He dominated and influenced every aspect of British advertising and editorial art.

But the famous ‘Swinging London’ party finally ended and Alan took off to distant Norfolk. Over the next decade he would create ‘Butterfly Ball’ (winner of the Whitbread Book Award), ‘Peacock Party’, ‘Lion’s Cavalcade’ and ‘The Ship’s Cat’ with Richard Adams, the author of ‘Watership Down’. He also developed ‘Captain Fantastic’ with Elton John as a film project, which took him to Hollywood. The album cover got him his second Grammy nomination. --http://www.prints-gallery.com/alan-aldridge-artist.htm



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