David Bowie Blackstar Cover Design

— Jonathan Barnbrook

Grand Prix


David Bowie Blackstar Cover Design
Barnbrook has collaborated closely with Bowie with this and all of his music releases since the 2003 album Heathen. The design follows much of the themes in the lyrics and the feel of the music, describing the “emotional” feel of the music rather than directly interpret the songs. The design features black graphics and text on a black background. Instead of the full name “Blackstar” the unicode character was used. This was to give the album a elegant title which stood out, but also would appear in a similar way in different kinds of technology such as web, iTunes and email. it was also something that was designed to be easily shared by fans around the release of the album.
 The design encompassed the CD, vinyl album cover, digital single designs, tv adverts and billboards, all done in a very minimal style. The design works on the idea of being legible through being different. It features no images or text, merely a black star with broken black stars underneath which spell “bowie”. The advertising featured the use of 5 different stars. all with a different meaning that could be associated with the album.
 As a tribute to Bowie, the graphics for the album was released under a creative commons licence for fans to use and remember him by on a dedicated website: www.bowieblackstar.net.

Jonathan Barnbrook
Jonathan Barnbrook and his studio are one of the most well known design groups in Britain. They were David Bowie’s main designers since 2000. Working on all the albums since ‘Heathen’ up until the final design for the album ‘Blackstar’ released two days before Bowie’s death. In typography they are known for their pioneering and ubiquitous typefaces with unusual names such as Prozac, Mason, Exocet and Bastard. Barnbrook’s studio is also known for their activist collaborations with the Occupy movement, Banksy on his recent ‘Dismaland’ show last year and Adbusters. They have worked widely in Japan, creating the identity for Roppongi HIlls and Mori Arts Center in 2003. Their contribution to graphic design was recognised by a major exhibition at GGG in 2005 and the Design Museum, London in 2007.