Vaughan Oliver, the English graphic designer best known for his work with the world-renowned London imprint 4AD, has died. According to Spin, Adrian Shaughnessy, writer, designer, and editor of the 2018 collection Vaughan Oliver: Archive, took to Twitter to announce Oliver’s death on the morning of Sunday, December 29, 2019. He tweeted “Desperately sad to announce that Vaughan Oliver died peacefully today, with his partner Lee by his side,” Shaughnessy wrote. “Great loss of friend and design hero.” Oliver was 62 years old.
vauAfter studying graphic at the Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic, Oliver and his childhood friend, photographer and filmmaker Nigel Grierson, launched 23 Envelope, the design studio responsible for many of 4AD’s most iconic record cover arts including Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, and The Breeders’ Last Splash. Oliver then launched his own studio called v23, where he worked with artists and designers like Chris Bigg, Simon Larbalestier, and Marc Atkins. He continued to make album artwork with artists including David Lynch, TV On the Radio, and The Breeders’ Kim Deal.
In an interview with Design Boom in 2014, Oliver discussed his love of making record sleeves. “I always wanted to design [record] sleeves as a kid. Record sleeves are ephemeral and I always wanted to make them more than that. It might sound pretentious, but I really wanted to make a mark…Now I realize, though, that the artwork can’t be timeless because of its connection to music. The music the artwork contains will always take you back to a certain time.”
Desperately sad to announce that Vaughan Oliver died peacefully today, with his partner Lee by his side. Great loss of friend and design hero. Vaughan Oliver (1957—2019.
— Adrian Shaughnessy (@AJWShaughnessy) December 29, 2019