Peter Saville – Unknown Pleasures

Peter Saville – Unknown Pleasures 1979

This project is cover art for the album Unknown Pleasure by Joy Division. This piece of art is one of Peter Saville’s most recognizable and popular designs. It is a depiction of  a wave image from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy. The image was originally created by radio astronomer Harold Craft at the Arecibo Observatory for his PhD thesis. Many people do not know what it is supposed to represent or symbolize. Many people thought it was sound waves or heart beats. It’s a very simplistic take on data visualization, which is ahead of its time. It was one of Peter’s very first album cover designs and has been the inspiration for many copies and imitations. It became a iconic piece of artwork for the band, allowing them to create a visual identity off of the album cover. Even though the band itself isn’t important to the piece, it is important to note that they did bring the piece forward to Peter, and he liked it, which was a first for him. I feel like this album cover art is the perfect amount of simplicity and interest. The simple white on black makes the thin lines pop with the high contrast. This cover art is also known as Fact 10, the catalogue number made famous by Factory Records. Peter Saville was lead designer and co founder for Factory Records. The lack of text on it makes the design so simplistic, but also so recognizable. A quote by Saville is “it’s not cool to put the title on the front.” I feel like if the name of the album or the name of the band was added it would take away the effect the single simple visual provided to the cover art. The design was taken out of the Encyclopedia of Astronomy directly, which to me seems not creative, but I understand the creative sense to understand that this would be a very successful and appropriate image for an album cover. Peter Saville will always be known for his album cover art, so it would make the most sense to include his most successful and appraised one in the curration of his best pieces of work.